How to create a lipstick that consumers will love


Gaëlle André and Clara Roux from contract manufacturer STRAND High Tech Color Cosmetics explain the dos and don’ts of making a simple lipstick that meets key trends

A simple stick lipstick is, ironically, far from simple. There are multiple stages at which the formulation could go wrong and lots of extra factors to consider when aiming to meet current trends, such as natural and vegan.

Gaëlle André, MakeUp R&D Laboratory Manager, and Clara Roux, Trends & Markets Analyst from STRAND High Tech Color Cosmetics provide their insight into making a lip product that meets the latest trends and which doesn't fall prey to any of the common pitfalls that can occur when formulating a lipstick.

<i>Clara Roux, Marketing Trends Manager</i>

Clara Roux, Marketing Trends Manager

<i>Gaëlle André,<br> Make-Up R&D Laboratory Manager</i>

Gaëlle André,
Make-Up R&D Laboratory Manager

Over to the experts...

STRAND High Tech Color Cosmetics has historical expertise in the formulation of lipsticks.

Without revealing all our secrets, the recipe for a stick brings together a combination of waxes with different melting points for suitable application and solidness, oils and emollients, pigments, dyes and pearlescent agents, an antioxidant and a perfume or aroma.

Depending on the expected positioning, gloss or matte agents and care active ingredients can be added.

It is worth considering if the lipstick needs to meet any specific trends, lifestyle criteria, etc. This positioning is decisive when it comes to the choice of raw materials.

The selection of ingredients and their quantities will be made according to the target audience and their expectations, whether this be related to function, coverage, preference for a matte or shiny finish, naturalness or efficiency.

The challenge is to offer an attractive product at the best price value.

Naturalness is a key differentiator, as is the vegan claim. Both are part of responsible consumption, and they are associated with visible and attractive product features, such as transparency and the diameter or shape of the stick, which add something unique and original.

New casting technologies allow for velvet, vinyl or ultra-pearlescent effects on the surface and even allow for bicolour and/or bifunctional sticks, by proposing a core loaded with active ingredients, for example.

It is also possible to incorporate pigments as an undercoat, the uniform shade of which changes when applied to reveal a different shade on the lips.

The trend towards minimalism has led us to formulate lipsticks with a limited number of raw materials, which makes formulation more complex; the selection of ingredients and their quality is therefore essential to ensure long lasting stability, efficiency and reproducibility.

When making lipstick, it is crucial to analyse the melting steps scale of the different waxes, as well as their association with emollients to obtain a simple formula.

Other warning points are related to oxidation (which could spoil the preservation of the formula), obtaining the perfect balance of solidness and sensoriality, and the grinding of the pigments, upon which the uniformity of the displayed colour and the colour obtained on application depend.

Alternatives to stick lipsticks: Pros & cons

Liquid lipstick:
Pros: Performant outfit. No crystallisation. Gesture appreciated by millennials;
Cons: Less sensual than a stick of lipstick on application. Warning for stability. Limited choice of eco-packaging.

Dye (water formula):
Pros: Natural effect. Long lasting hold. Freshness;
Cons: Less precise. Light coverage.

Compact powder lipstick:
Pros: Heat resistance (does not melt). Good conservation. Allows for superior matte finish;
Cons: Requires a tool for application. Less sensory application. Less glamorous.

Creamy lipstick (in a jar)
Pros: Allows for creative and fun packs. Popular format with Gen-Z;
Cons: Requires a tool for application. Less precise. Less coverage. Limited outfit.