The one area of women’s cosmetics that has and hasn’t changed dramatically is lip color. It hasn’t changed in that today, as in eras past, the colors available are many and varied and can be as vibrant or as subdued as
you would want. It HAS changed, though, in the areas of formulation. In ages past, lipstick application took precision and repeated touch-ups to keep your mouth looking perfect.
The purpose of lip color is to mimic the blush response in the face and provide the impression of youthfulness. At least, this is the origin of using lip color. You see, when a person blushes, the blood-flow increases to
the face, and the soft spongy tissue of the lips – which is translucent – grows darker from the blood seen through the skin of the lips. Lipstick is meant to mimic this response so that the person appears younger and
more innocent, and thereby more appealing.
These days, lipsticks come in three main categories – lipstick, lip stain, and lip gloss. Of course there are ancillary products: lip balms, lip liners, lip filler, and plumping formulas. These all serve specific purposes
and will be discussed in turn. But for the time being let’s look at the main categories of lip color and the needs they fulfill:
This is probably the product that comes to mind whenever most people think of lip color. Generally, it’s found as a wax-based “stick” that is applied to the lip surface the way one would use a crayon. Its shape is
generally intended to make applying the product easier, though it can often wear down or become distorted by heat and other factors. (My mom was forever finding pools of waxy color in the bottoms of her purses or on
car upholstery from leaving her lipsticks in the hot car while shopping or visiting away from home.
Lipstick’s specific formula is designed to serve two purposes: moisturize & protect the lips and add enhancing color to the lips. The original formulas of lipstick used things like wax and whale blubber to accomplish
this, and modern formulas have developed all-natural and animal-friendly versions. Other lipstick formulas were more of a cream or paste that is dispensed by a sponge-tipped or brush-tipped wand applicator to give an
easily-applied, smooth finish. The benefits of this formula are that the color is – generally - more-evenly applied, while the finish is typically shinier and gives a wetter look.
The drawback to these more liquid lipsticks is that they tended to wear off more easily. Since this means more-frequent re-applying, it also means more cost in the long-term because the product gets used up faster. In
spite of this, the liquid/creamy lip color products are still very popular because of the silky, smooth, and light feel.
There are also long-wear versions of lipsticks, that usually come with a “sealant” product to try to lock the lipstick in place – either by creating a barrier to prevent the lipstick from rubbing off when eating,
drinking, kissing or talking, or by solidifying the texture of the lipstick in order to make it harder to wear off. These generally get mixed reviews – some like the long-wear aspect enough to put up with what they
deem are “minor” inconveniences in texture and feel, while others think the whole process is too unwieldy and the feel is too inhibiting. They deem it easier to simply re-apply their normal lipstick.
The second category of lip color is generally called “lip stain”. These products can be just as viscous as the creamier lipstick formulas or they may simply appear like darkly-colored water. The purpose of lip stain is
in the name. They are simply designed to impart color to the skin of the lips. As the name implies, they do in fact, stain the skin, and therefore offer long-lasting color. The longevity of the color imparted by lip
stain is significantly greater than that of regular lip color.