Beauty PI: What Makes Lipstick “Sweat”?

By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
Beauty PI: What Makes Lipstick “Sweat”?

We’ve all been there: It’s a scorching hot summer day at the beach and you open your makeup bag to find your lipstick covered in what looks like little beads of water. “Um, is my lipstick sweating?” you wonder. While your lipstick may seem to be comically mimicking your life at that very moment, we wanted to investigate what’s really happening to the product in these circumstances. Ahead, we spoke with L’Oréal Associate Principal Chemist Roselin Rosario about what lipstick sweat really is and whether you should be concerned about it. 

What Causes Lipsticks to Sweat?

Contrary to what we thought, those little drops surrounding your bullet are not water at all. “The sweating observed in lipsticks is most likely oils from the formula slowly coming out,” says Rosario. When oils or waxes in the formula are partially compatible or not compatible, Rosario says that they will start to separate over time. A drastic change in climate may, however, bring these conditions on sooner. “The waxes require high temperature to become mobile,” she says, “but the oils do not because their physical state is liquid, which is why we see droplets coming out of the surface.” If a lipstick is prone to sweating, it will continue to do so as it ages or when it’s exposed to heat. 

Are Certain Lipsticks More Likely to Sweat Than Others?

It’s difficult to tell which lipsticks might have a stronger tendency to sweat “It all comes down to the compatibility of all the components in the formula,” says Rosario. “Even a very small change in the formula can make a lipstick more disposed to sweat,.”

You Should, However, Avoid Hot Temps

Although lipsticks are built to withstand temperatures around 50°C or 122°F, it’s important to pay attention to the formula when it’s kept in high heat. “Not only can high temperature soften or melt waxes, if there are any volatile ingredients — those that might vaporize at room temperature — they will be removed from the formula, therefore changing its properties and performance,” says Rosario.

It’s also important to note that every wax has its own distinct melting temperature, and should it go beyond that degree, it will lose its shape.You can pour this melted lipstick into a container and refrigerate it back to a solid form, but Rosario notes that it will most likely not perform the same as the initial lipstick. 

So, Should You Be Concerned about Lipstick Sweat?

According to Rosario, you don’t need to be worried about lipstick sweat, but you may want to pay attention to it. “If the extent of the sweating is small, the lipstick composition is only slightly changed, and you will not see any differences when you use it,” says Rosario. If the sweating seems to be extensive or there are other changes in the product — like the texture or color — Rosario’s best advice is to replace it. “Keep track of the age of your lipstick. A fresh lipstick will have a much better performance than one that’s several years old.”

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