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myths on lipstick

6 Lipstick Myths I’m Tired of Hearing (and You Should Stop Believing)

Back in my last year in college, I could remember one day when everything was falling out of place: revisions in our design project, repeat experiments for our research and a short notice announcement for an exam. I was so stressed out and couldn’t even figure out which one to prioritize. That moment when I thought I was about to explode, I went to the restroom, took a deep breath, rinsed my face, put on a face powder (that was all I had back then) and wore the Mac Russian Red Lipstick I got from my mom. I knew it didn’t solve my problem but dang, I did feel better. That’s the kind of power a lipstick can give me. We know we are queens and we have crowns of our own, but lipsticks are those tiny glittery gems on our crowns that add glamour to our queendom.

Now You know why joker is happy all the time

This obsession of women over lipstick is challenged with different myths crawling around the internet. Being told that we shouldn’t be using what we think is one of the greatest invention for womankind, is definitely alarming to us. Don’t worry, this article reassures you can still wear ’em.

Let’s explore some myths about lipstick that you may have heard from your workmate Susan, or read from an article on your Facebook timeline (which was probably shared by your workmate, Susan).

 1. It contains toxic Lead

lipstick lead

In the first place, what makes a chemical toxic? Toxicity of substances is dependent on its amount. The truth is, all chemicals can be toxic or dangerous – at a certain dosage. It is true that there are traces of lead in many lipstick brands products. However,  there is no credible study proving that FDA-approved lipsticks can cause lead poisoning.

The real problem? Scary things are much more interesting to share than facts. Even some brands use this myth for marketing. “Lead-free” lipsticks imply that the presence of such substance is dangerous which is not necessarily the case.

2. Prolonged use of lipstick can give you cancer

lipstick meme yolo


Few years back, websites in the internet spread a story that prolonged use of lipstick can cause breast cancer among women.  This was based on a published study (1) concluding that Butyl Benzyl Pthalate (BBP)  can cause changes on genome expression or mammary tissue in rats. BBP is an organic compound belonging to the family of phthalates that has similar properties to the female hormone, estrogen. Because Butyl Benzyl Pthalate are also present in lipsticks, this gave birth to the myth that lipsticks can cause cancer.

Butyl benzyl phthalate Source: Wikipedia

Butyl benzyl phthalate Source: Wikipedia

However, recent studies show that amount of BBP that induced hormonal changes in rats is 125 times greater than the highest estimate of amount BBP the general population is exposed to (2). Although one cannot argue that BBP is toxic, the amount that is present in our lipstick is not enough to cause cancer

3. “CLASS A lipsticks” has the same quality with the Authentic Ones.

fakes everywhere

Me scrolling through Shopee feeds

Class A lipstick is just a euphemism for FAKE lipstick. Go wear fake shoes or fake bags – just not fake topical products-much more products for your lips. I have read and heard comments about Class A lipsticks being perfect copy of the authentic ones. However, the reason I don’t patronize fake make up  is the lack of accountability from its manufacturers. The fact that they are imitations means they do not have own brands that they have to protect and no name to live up to. They do not put high regard on quality standards and their quality control. I’m not talking about the “perceivable” qualities like shade, texture, skin feel and longevity. Rather, I’m concerned with the parameters not detectable by our senses like bacterial count and heavy metal content.

If on a budget,  buy a cheaper drugstore lipstick than spend the same amount on imitations of high-end brands.

4. Lipstick will make your lips turn dark

Dark lips

Some lipsticks can cause staining on the lips, but when properly removed every day, this shouldn’t be a problem. Dark lips can be genetic or can be caused by other factors:

Sun Damage

Remember that our lips still consist of skin cells and is vulnerable to UV damage like the rest of our skin. In fact, wearing lipstick can be helpful to protect lips. Matte or opaque lipstick provides a little SPF and is better than no protection. However, shimmery and glossy lipsticks may do you more harm than good. It absorbs UV rays which my worsen sun damage.

Not Moisturizing

Dry lips will always appear darker than when moisturized.

Not Exfoliating

Dry and dead skin cells are darker than moist and healthy ones. Lip scrubs or even as simple as gentle brushing of your lips using our tooth brush can aid in exfoliating.


smoking woman

Smoker’s lips can be characterized by visible vertical wrinkles and may appear darker than the natural shade. Smoking hastens the skin’s aging process hence the early appearance of wrinkles. Nicotine from cigarettes causes blood vessels to shrink, decreasing the vessel diameter. This results to reduced blood flow that could starve the skin with nutrients and oxygen that may lead to premature cell death. Dead cells always appear darker than new, healthy ones. Both tar and nicotine in smoke can also react with melanin resulting to hyperpigmentation.

5. Lipsticks can make your lips dry

YES and NO. – depends on the type of lipstick.

Most liquid matte lipstick have caused my lips to dry after application. This may be caused by the volatile substances that carries water from your lips as the lipstick dries up, seconds after application. Application of lip balm can be a way to minimize dryness because it creates a waxy layer between your lips and the product.

Applying lip balm before applying lipstick helps moisturize lips and create a barrier to protect lips from drying

6. Red Lipstick is for Fair Skin

Total myth. There are several shades of red that will compliment whatever skin tone you have. Truth is, no one can really tell you which shade you should and shouldn’t wear. As long as you wear it with confidence, any shade will look flattering.

If you are unsure, here’s a basic guide in choosing the right red for you (I’d like to emphasize this as a guide, not a rule):

Warm Undertones

warm undertones

red to orange hues looks flattering on warm undertones

Skin with Warm undertones usually have their veins appear green and looks more flattering in gold jewelries. Colors that look good on this skin tone is earthy oranges, mustard and green. Red lipsticks that looks flattering in warm complexions tend to lean towards orange hues like coral, copper, on its way to brown.

Tarush shade by Vice Cosmetics

Tarush shade by Vice Cosmetics

Heroine Shade of Superstay lipsticks from Maybelline

Heroine Shade of Superstay lipsticks from Maybelline

Get Reddy Shade of Matte Lipstick by Maybelline

Get Reddy Shade of Matte Lipstick from Maybelline

Cool Undertones

lipstick cool undertones

Reds with blue undertones to plum colors look flattering on skin with cool undertones

Skin with cool undertones usually have their veins appear blue to purple and looks silver jewelries look flattering on them. Colors that look good on this skin tone are grays and blues. Red lipsticks with pink and blue hues look great on skin with cool tones.


Chery Black by Loreal

Cherry Black by Loreal

Pioneer Shade of Superstay lipsticks from Maybelline

Pioneer Shade of Superstay lipsticks from Maybelline

Voyager Shade of Superstay Lipstick from Maybelline

Neutral Undertones

Nuetral skin tones have veins that appear blue-green and can both silver and gold look flattering on them. It can totally rock any shade of red. I personally think this skin tone looks good on “absolute reds”. In fact, these kind of reds are cult classic because they look flattering in any skin tones.

Russian Red by Mac

Russian Red by Mac

Retro Red-Revlon

Retro Red-Revlon

Take away

Having reached the bottom of this article tells that you love lipsticks like I do *virtual high-five*. So go ahead and wear those lippies with confidence and give your friend Susan that  contagious smile the next time she tells you to stop wearing lipstick everyday.



  1. Moral R, Wang R, Russo I et al. The plasticizer butyl benzyl phthalate induces genomic changes in rat mammary gland after neonatal/prepubertal exposure. BMC Genomics. 2007; 8:453.
  2. Center for The Evaluation Risks to Human Reproduction, Monograph on the Potentional Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Butyl Benzyl Phtalate (BBP), Center for the Evaulation of Risks to Human Reproduction, 2006, National Toxicology Program- US Department of Health and Human Services.


Article written by:

Anne Porter

Hi! I’m Anne. I am a chemical engineer from Cebu, Philippines. I created Zarins Beautylab because of my love for cosmetics, skin care products and all other stuff that makes me (and you) look and feel beautiful. My semesters of chemistry courses come in handy as I explain the science behind different beauty products: which works and how it works. Well, Sometimes its science and sometimes its just good ol’ common sense.

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