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5 GREEN and NOT MEAN Lipsticks

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ogp_greennotmeanlipsticksWorldwide, there are countless people who apply make-up as part of their morning, or evening, routine. We have make-up bags overflowing with endless products and in selecting an item such as lipstick, we’re thinking about what compliments our skin tone; matches a particular outfit; or is moisturising. What we often overlook are what ingredients these products contain, many of which can cause us severe health problems.

The ingredients are hidden on a tiny slip of paper stuck to the lipstick itself or inside a miniscule box. Who looks at this list of ingredients when purchasing a new lipstick? Well, we would all do well to take a good look, as what we’ll find is a long list of chemicals and toxins. As something that might be applied on a regular basis each day, we should be aware of what is going on an intimate area such as our lips.


There are statistics thrown around from time-to-time stating that people who wear lipstick eat somewhere between four and six pounds of it in their lifetime. While these statistics are exaggerated, it remains true that lipstick is ingested, as well as being absorbed into the bloodstream through the lips. The more that is applied, the more that is absorbed and ingested. So what are we allowing into our bodies? Well, lead for starters, on top of which lipstick often contains bismuth oxychloride, formaldehyde,  various parabens and other petrochemicals, all of which are harmful to our health.

Lead is a neurotoxin and can cause numerous problems, even in low quantities. It has been linked to aggression; attention, behavioural, and learning difficulties, hormonal imbalances, infertility and miscarriage, as well as permanent brain damage. Continual exposure to this through the (re)application of lipstick increases the chance of these serious health risks, and if pregnant, lead can be passed to the unborn baby, affecting them long before being born.

Bismuth oxychloride and formaldehyde are both known carcinogens. Common parabens include methylparaben and propylparaben, both of which are considered carcinogenic by the European Union (and banned) as well as endocrine disruptors. On top of all of this, the petrochemicals are known to accelerate aging – not what a beauty king or queen wants to hear – in addition to causing cancer, and raising estrogen levels.

In addition to our health we should consider the health and lives of those non-human animals who are subjected to barbaric experiments for make-up (and other) products. Before lipsticks hit the stores, the ingredients (as well as the final product) are tested on innocent beings who are restrained whilst the substances are administered orally, applied to the eyes or skin, inhaled through a mask or in an inhalation chamber and injected. These experiments cause an excruciating amount of pain for the animals, and some die during the process.


It is possible to source cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and natural lipsticks. Reading the label is a good place to start, although there are still some unfamiliar or unpronounceable words from time-to-time. While we have listed some of the most common chemicals and toxins, there are countless more, so for information on what each lipstick contains go to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. The EWG has listed all ingredients and scored them on a scale of zero to ten, with ten being the worst.

5 of the best lipsticks on the market now include:

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5 comments on “5 GREEN and NOT MEAN Lipsticks”

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5 Years Ago

I just checked the Colorganics' webpage. Their lipsticks are not vegan, they contain beeswax and may contain carmine. Their liners may contain carmine, too.

Corey Wrenn
5 Years Ago

Are these products vegan?

Caroline Lennon
19 Apr 2013

Hi Corey, Yes, all of these products are vegan.

5 Years Ago

It just goes to show that there is no excuse for animal testing ! The cruelty free brands contain 'clean' and safe ingredients and are very pleasant to use. Performance wise they are very good, so as far as I'm concerned cruelty free ticks all the boxes. Somebody tell China ! it's about time they started treating animals as sentient creatures, not trash.

Caroline Lennon
19 Apr 2013

Hi Karen, I agree! Almost all cruelty-free options are undoubtedly greener and safer than their non-vegan counterparts. The companies that care for the well-being of animals, choosing not to test on them or include any animal-derived ingredients, tend also to be conscious of the effect certain chemicals and toxins have on the environment, as well as our own health. I too think that cruelty-free options are therefore a good place to start! :)

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