Chemist Hazel Bishop set off the infamous lipstick wars when she commercialized the first “kiss-proof” lipstick in the 1950s. The original beauty DIY’er, Bishop purportedly experimented with 300 batches of lipstick in her kitchen before settling on a formulation that used Red 21, Red 27 and a small amount of Orange—a trio that stains lips to give the impression of longer wear, possesses pH-indicating properties and is responsible for the color-changing makeup we still see on the market today.
While these colorants effectively delivered longer-lasting color, during the ‘90s there was a second push for more highly pigmented lipsticks in a great variety of shades that could last through eating and drinking, recalls cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos. “A big flurry of innovation in transfer-resistant lip colors occurred then, as evidenced by a number of patents and another lipstick war over long claims between beauty giants.” Today’s take: Chemists in the lab and makeup artists under the lights share their picks for what really stays put.
Achieving a high level of gloss can be challenging with transfer-resistant lipsticks. “This one contains a unique silicone resin—trimethyl pentaphenyl trisiloxane—that provides high shine with decreased stiffness of the pigment film,” Dobos says.
Liquid formulations are the preferred format for transfer-resistant lip colors today, Dobos says. “Liquids can more easily glide over the lip to lay down color evenly before volatile solvents—namely isododecane—evaporate; the silicone resins then leave behind a strong, rubresistant, matte-pigmented film. Because these pigment films can be dry, a topcoat in the form of a silky balm or clear gloss is applied as Step 2. The topcoats are made with ingredients like natural oils and waxes that don’t mix with or dissolve the silicone resin films.” Additionally, the custom color shade ranges were made using sophisticated color measurement techniques to flatter a wide range of skin tones.
Celebrity makeup artist Ermahn Ospina says his current go-nowhere, wear-under-a-mask pick is this moisturizing lip stain. “One of the most important qualities I am looking for in a lip product right now is that it has to be hydrating. This product is, and it comes in variety of shades that are long-lasting. Its precision applicator glides across lips, creating a perfect pout every time.”
A high-pigment lipstick delivers bold, intense color, but because pigments are powders, incorporating them at considerable levels can make a formula feel thick and dry. Surfacetreated pigments have special chemical coatings like amino acids that surround the individual particles, making them softer and easier to incorporate. This particular formula also utilizes a mix of two wetting agents that help deliver more pigment and increased color payoff.
The Rules for Wear
Stay-put lip colors can be difficult to remove with ordinary water-based cleansers, so Dobos recommends using baby oil or petrolatum to dissolve them. “Vaseline is one of my favorite drugstore beauty products that has tons of uses.”
While transfer-resistant lip colors have come a long way, they can still be drying. “The skin on our lips is very thin and devoid of oil and sweat glands, making them much more susceptible to chapping,” Dobos says. “Be sure to apply a good balm or an overnight treatment that contains waxes and butters to help lock in moisture.”
Want to make your favorite lipstick last longer? Lock it in with translucent setting powder. “Apply your lip color, then remove a layer from a facial tissue so you have just one thin sheet and hold it over your lips before patting the powder over the top of the tissue,” says Dobos. “Look for highly transparent silica, polymethyl methacrylate or synthetic mica, labeled as synthetic fluorphlogopite, closer to the top of the ingredient list.”
Ospina says his overall advice is to keep it simple. “For this very unique time, I like keeping the whole makeup process as easy and as accessible as possible— that includes the lips.”
In the Kit
Celebrity makeup artist D’Andre Michael’s number-one tip for getting any kind of makeup—including lip color—to stay put is a good setting spray. “I recommend using one to keep makeup long-wear and fresh throughout the day. After applying concealer and foundation, allow it to sit for a minute and then mist your face with the setting spray until it’s dry.” These four products hit his “must-use” list when it comes to making a look last under the camera lights: beautyblender Bounce Airbrush Liquid Whip Concealer ($26); DMK Cosmetics Premier Foundation ($38); L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray and Set Makeup Extender ($17); Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray ($33).
Find a Doctor
Find a NewBeauty "Top Beauty Doctor" Near you