Durable Beauty: Formulating Transfer-resistant, Persistent Color Cosmetics


Read the full article in the September 2021 digital edition. . .

While the transmission of COVID-19 was a subject of early debate, inhalation, as well as deposition of fine droplets onto mucous membranes and aerosols exhaled by infected persons, were identified as critical routes of infection.1 As such, the use of cloth masks that cover the mouth and nose has become an important part of public health strategy to address transmission.2

Mask wearing may persist as part of modern culture to reduce the risk of infection. In relation, interest in long-wear and transfer-resistant color cosmetics beneath masks, especially lip color, has grown substantially, bringing renewed focus to ingredient selection and formulation strategies.3 These strategies are briefly presented here.

Lip Stains

It has been 70 years since chemist Hazel Bishop set off the infamous lipstick wars when she commercialized the first “kiss-proof” lipstick. It utilized a combination of pigments and bromo acid dyes to provide long lasting color.4 The original beauty DIY-er, Bishop purportedly experimented with 300 batches of lipstick in her kitchen before settling on a formulation.

Of the colorants approved for lip use in the United States today, bromo acid dyes Orange 5 (CI 45370), Red 21 (CI 45380) and Red 27 (CI 45410) have staining properties that lend themselves to perceived long wear effects in lip colors. Orange 5 produces a yellow shade of orange while both Red 21 and 27 develop a blue shade of red. Bromo acid dyes are also used to create novelty, color changing formulations.5, 6

These colors can be used alone to create lip stains or in combination with pigments (see Colorant Definitions sidebar) to enhance the perception of persistence. Care must be taken in formulation, selection of packaging, manufacturing and stability testing as these colorants are quite sensitive to pH, temperature and exposure to light. Opaque packaging and the inclusion of UV absorbers such as benzophenone-3—which is identified as oxybenzone when used as a sunscreen active—are recommended when utilizing these colorants. It also is important to use the proper INCI name to indicate the intended function when used solely as a color protectant.

. . .Read more in the September 2021 digital edition. . .


  1. CDC (2021, May 7). Scientific brief: SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/sars-cov-2-transmission.html
  2. Honein, M.A., Christie, A., … Liburd, L.C., et al. (2020). Summary of guidance for public health strategies to address high levels of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and related deaths, December 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 69(49) 1860.
  3. Global Cosmetic Industry. (2021, Jun 21). Consumer trend: Long wearing lipsticks. Available at https://www.gcimagazine.com/marketstrends/segments/cosmetics/Consumer-Trend-Long-Wearing-Lipsticks-574664431.html
  4. Tannen, M. (1998, Dec 10). Hazel Bishop, 92, an innovator who made lipstick kissproof. The New York Times (p. 16).
  5. Hollenberg, J.C. (2016). Anhydrous products, part II: Lip products. In Color cosmetics: A practical guide to formulation (pp. 133-174). Allured Business Media.
  6. Finkenaur, R.S.G. (2009). Lipstick. In M.L. Schlossman (ed.), The chemistry and manufacture of cosmetics (vol. II, pp 443-474). Allured Business Media.
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