How the New Maybelline Powder Matte Lipstick Was Created From Start to Finish

March 16, 2018
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary

Ever wonder what it’s like to create a makeup product from start to finish? Us too. Welcome to our “life of” series, where Alanna goes behind the scenes at the beauty lab to find out exactly what it takes to create a single makeup product — from concept to process and finally to execution. First up is the brand new Maybelline Powder Matte Lipstick.

When you think of matte lipstick, you probably envision: powdery, opaque, flat. It’s these textures that make matte lipstick what it is, and creating a truly matte yet still movable finish like no other lip product was exactly the challenge that attracted L’Oréal USA Sr. Chemist II Roselin Rosario, Chemist Yan Lee and Scientific Liaison Laura Martone.

“Matte finish is trending, and many brands offer different levels of matte, including a true matte finish,” the group notes. “So we were challenged to transform the Maybelline Color Sensational Matte lipstick into a powdery true matte finish.” Thus, the Maybelline Powder Matte Lipstick was born — a fresh spin on a Maybelline classic.

Generally, lipstick formulas include waxes, pigments, oils and powders — but it’s often these oils that are the arch nemesis of the matte finish. “Most oils are shiny so trying to mask the shine from coming through in the finish is incredibly challenging,” explain the scientists. Through various experimental trials, the chemists come up with a combination of mattifying powders that provide the finish that they feel meets the expectation of what’s needed to create a matte product.


The before shot. 💄💋

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As opposed to a regular matte formula, the magic of the powder matte started in its conception, with a conscience effort to avoid even an inkling of shine. “We pushed the limits on the amount of mattifying powders we could load into the formula and decreased the amount of shiny oils in the lipstick compared to a regular matte,” say Rosario, Lee and Martone. “With the powder matte lipstick, you will not see any light reflection, giving it its unique texture and finish.”  

Next, the team worked closely with marketing to merge the technology and concept together. “Once the powders and oils were selected, we ran a series of experiments to formulate the powder matte lipstick,” they explain. The chemists also worked on a lot of in vitro testing (translation: makeup lovers tried it on) to ensure the product would do everything it’s meant to do. “For example, we used a gloss meter to determine the level of matte, and the winning formula was tested by consumers to confirm that it matched the performance expectation and key benefits of our concept.” To launch a sole product like this, not only are the chemists in the lab involved, but an army of people from different departments also collaborate — including real-life beauty gurus outside of the company. (Sign us up!)

The unique features of the powder matte lipstick don’t stop there: “The overall concept

was inspired by an edgy powerful shade lineup that highlight the powder matte finish,” say the chemists. The product development team and researchers went with the cooler side of the shade spectrum to really push the boundaries with grungy undertones and a color story that stands out amongst the typical sea of red and pink lipsticks. “You will see that we have an included a unique white top tone that really complements and enhances the mattness that this architecture offers without washing out the lip,” the team adds.

And this unconventional thinking translates from the inner product to the outer packaging. “The same lipstick bullet shape that is signature of Maybelline lipsticks which provides precise contouring with high payoff,” Rosario, Lee and Martone note. For the Powder Matte package design specifically, the tube’s finish mimics the product inside: matte, clean and rather smart — you’ll be able to recognize its touch at the bottom of your bag.

“All elements really helped us work toward the trend of ‘no boundaries,’ making unconventional, conventional,” the team says of the entire project. “Our favorite part was the experiments and exploring, designing and implementing new test methods. We also loved to work together as a team, each of us bringing their expertise to have a winning product — and after all the hard work and challenges, seeing the product on the market makes every effort worth it.”

Creating lipsticks is no easy task. There’s a lot of brains, research and passion behind every little crevice of the tube that sits in your beauty stash. “Whether we need a powder matte or a long-wear lipstick, we need to use our scientific knowledge and creativity to achieve the objective, and as a chemist or scientist, it is exciting to see a product go from concept to market,” say the scientists.

What’s even more exciting? I’m loving powder mattes even more than regular matte lipsticks — and it’s all thanks to the scientists who made it possible.