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In this report

Finding the perfect shade of red lipstick

Lipstick is a cosmetic staple. With sales reaching $290 million in 2011 -- 13 percent more than in 2010 according to the Wall Street Journal -- there's no evidence that these lip bullets will be dislodged from our makeup kits anytime in the near future in society today. For the best reviews of lipstick, we turned to Paula Begoun, who regularly tests thousands of beauty products for safety and efficacy at her subscription-based website, Beautypedia.com. Several of these reviews are also available in her book, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," and at her online storefront, CosmeticsCop.com; neither source is updated as frequently as Beautypedia.com, however.

Good Housekeeping puts five brands of long-lasting lip color through a series of tests to see which ones last the longest during a typical day that includes eating, drinking, blotting and kissing. A dated report from ConsumerReports.org also tests four long-lasting lipsticks and finds that drugstore brands work just as efficiently as expensive brands, for less than half the cost. Beauty magazines such as Allure, InStyle, Shape, Self and Natural Health also test hundreds of products and choose the best lipsticks for their annual beauty awards. We found useful consumer reviews at MakeupAlley.com and TotalBeauty.com, where users rate lipsticks on their practical application.

Lipstick ingredients

Lipstick is made of a variety of waxes, oils, lubricating ingredients and, of course, pigments. In recent years, manufacturers have begun to add other ingredients, such as vitamin E, aloe vera, collagen, sunscreen and more, to soften and protect the lips. While lipstick is commonly sold in a tube, it's also available in non-stick form to be applied with a lip brush. There are a variety of lipstick finishes available, each of which contains slightly different components. The most common formulas are matte and cream.

According to Rita Johnson, writing in Chemical & Engineering News, matte lipsticks have more wax and pigment, or dye, and fewer lubricants. This formulation gives the color more texture than shine. Cream lipsticks, on the other hand, use more oils, giving them extra shine while still keeping some of the texture. Frosted and shimmer lipsticks are considered creams but have additional ingredients, such as mica, silica particles or pearlizing agents to add luster and glimmer. Sheers and stains use a lot of oil but only a medium amount of wax and a slight amount of color. Long-lasting formulas employ silicone oil to seal color to the lips.

Lip balms and glosses are also popular and can be used instead of or in addition to lipstick. Lip glosses contain more oils than wax and often come in liquid formulas sold in jars. Glosses generally contain little to no pigment for a more sheer but shiny look. Lip balms are typically used to moisturize and protect lips, although some contain a hint of color as well. Balms are more hydrating than lipsticks and contain ingredients such as lanolin, shea butter and cocoa butter.

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