Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mixing the perfect lip color

On Thursday I wrote that I bought Benetint, this supposedly miraculous product that gives your lips and cheeks a wonderful natural glow. In truth, it's basically a small container of Kool-Aid priced at $28, and even when the Benefit makeup artist put it on me in the store, I wasn't too impressed. It didn't go smoothly on my lips - perhaps because my lips need to be exfoliated, but that's beside the point. And it had an artificial, bright red-pink color that was sort of fun, but hardly the natural, good-genes look I wanted.

When I got back to work, I went on and found this (click for big):

Basically, this says you can buy organic red/pink food dye (made with beets, most likely) and it will stain your skin just the same way, for much less money.

Benetint, by the way, is colored with carmine, a red dye made from crushed insects (seriously). I'm not particularly freaked out by dead insects on my lips, but I'd prefer beet juice any day.

So, I headed down to Whole Foods today, and they didn't have any organic food coloring. Drat! I stopped at Rite Aid real quick, in case they had canned beets. They didn't have those. Time for Plan B...

I went home and assembled:
a. various colored lip glosses, most of which I rarely wear
b. some plastic utensils and containers
c. cocoa butter and Burt's Bees lemon-lime lip gloss, which I use on my lips all the time. These were to be used as bases.

You need to understand that lipstick simply doesn't work for me; it dries out my lips and looks terrible, and I don't like all the artificial colors and other nasty ingredients in it. I enjoy lip glosses, but I am always drinking water or eating something, and they last about five seconds. Thus my enthusiasm for a no-fuss, preferably all-natural stain that will actually last if I apply it in the morning.

Closeup of some of my items. I wear the Burt's Bees lip gloss on the far left; not so much the three items on the right. My mission: add color to the stuff I do wear, so I'm actually using products I've paid money for, while adding some much-need color to my lips.

My first experiment: adding color (Burt's Bees lip shimmer in Rhubarb) to cocoa butter. (I love cocoa butter, by the way. It tastes/smells good, contains Vitamin E, and moisturizes everything from lips to dry or sunburned skin. Best of all, it's dirt cheap and non-fussy. Find it at any drugstore.)

The colored lip shimmer mixed readily with the cocoa butter. I kept adding more color, testing it on my lips as I went.

I added more color and more cocoa butter, mixing with a plastic knife, until I was happy with the formulation.

A sample of the new lip balm on my finger. It's a semi-sheer red/pink.

The finished product! It tingles a bit, since the original Burt's Bees lip shimmer had a ton of peppermint. As desired, the cocoa butter tones down the color and peppermint flavor/tingle of the original product. I'm also happy I can apply it with my fingers now.

By the way - the container is from the Benefit counter at Macy's. The makeup artist put a little sample of body scrub in it, which I used this morning. I like these little containers, and I'm going to ask for more when I return the Benetint.

Next, I went back to the original "lip stain" idea. I've used cherry juice to make pink frosting before...could I use cocoa butter to make a colored balm with staining power?

Unfortunately, even the promise of beauty can't overcome the law of physics. Water does not mix with oil (cocoa butter). Darn! Scrap that idea.

Next, I turned to the Zuzu lip gloss, a lovely dark red (Zuzu is a vegan line of cosmetics carried at Whole Foods, by the way). Would it mix with cocoa butter? Yes, though my main problem here was getting enough red out of the tube of lip gloss.

The result: a small amount semi-sheer, rusty red gloss.

Next, I turned to some random coral lip gloss I bought at a crappy strip mall clothing store in Mira Mesa. Would it make my trusty Burt's Bees lemon-lime lip gloss a pretty coral color?

I mustered the courage check out the ingredients on this mystery gloss. I was pleasantly surprised. The color comes from titanium dioxide and iron oxide, not artificial color.

I teased a bunch of lip gloss out of the tube, then scooped the waxy lemon-lime gloss from the pot with a plastic knife.

I kept adding more and more coral lip gloss to the Burt's Bees stuff, until the pot was empty and I was tired of getting lip gloss out of the tube bit by bit. Mixing them together was simple - the lip gloss may be solid and waxy in its normal state, but it was pliable as soon as I scooped it out. I didn't have to warm it up or anything.

The finished product: a semi-sheer coral gloss in the original Burt's Bees packaging.

My three new lip colors.

Closeup of the finished products. The two pots will go in my purse, and the rusty red gloss in the larger container will stay at home. I'm curious to see how they age, and if the colors will stay true.

Lessons learned: Hacking cosmetics is cheap and fun. Cocoa butter and other neutral, nourishing lip balms are excellent vehicles for oil- or wax-based lip colors (lip glosses, lipsticks and tinted lip balms). Petroleum jelly or even ChapStick (or maybe even plain beeswax?) would work fine as bases for homemade lip colors.

I will continue to look out for organic red food coloring to use as lip stain (which can be topped with lip loss, though not directly mixed with it). I really do want a no-fuss lip stain!


Anonymous said...

Haha. This is great! I'm the original author who wrote about natural red food dye as a lip stain on MUA (teacakeanyone). I recently got interested in (the perhaps losing battle for me) lip stains again, and a Google search brought me to you. How neat I have an influence like this. Keep up the good hunting, and if you ever find anything great, please let me know!

Frank & Bella said...

Good job! The mark up on cosmetics is outrageous!

Megan Squire said...

great posting. Google brought me here with "beet juice lipstick".I like your idea of using the bert's bees stuff to start.