What Is Lip Gloss Made Of: Ingredients + Benefits

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Lip gloss is a beauty staple in almost everyone’s beauty kit.

It’s a great multi-purpose cosmetic product that can moisturize your lips, add some color, and give you that gorgeous shine.

Even beauty lovers who don’t spend much of their day applying a lot of makeup will often swipe on some gloss for a touch of shine or hydration before heading out the door.

Lip gloss is a versatile product with many uses. It’s great for the lips but can also be used on other parts of the face as a highlighter, cheek tint, or brow gel.

a close-up image of a woman applying lip gloss using a transparent applicator

But how does lip gloss provide shine, color, and hydration simultaneously?

Ever wondered what lip gloss is made of? And are all lip glosses created equal?

We look closer at this wonder product and determine what it’s made of, the benefits of each ingredient, and how to find the right lip gloss for you.

How Do You Use Lip Gloss?

So what does lip gloss do? Lip gloss is primarily used to give the lips a shiny and slick finish. The added luster can also make lips appear plumper and smoother.

Some lip glosses also have a tint and can add color to your lipstick. Some popular colored lip glosses have such a vibrant color that you can use them without lipstick.

You can apply lip gloss in either solid or liquid form, and many of the more popular ones are usually liquid. Glosses are generally very shiny and can also be opalescent, metallic, or glittery, depending on the product.

Using lip gloss is relatively simple. 

You can apply it alone or in tandem with a lip balm or lipstick.

If you want a simple tint or sheen for your look, apply a hydrating balm followed by your favorite tinted lip gloss.

If you want a more luxurious look, you can use gloss with your favorite lipliner and lipstick and follow these simple steps:

  1. Exfoliate your lips.
  2. Add a lightweight lip balm for moisture.
  3. Carefully line your lips with lipliner.
  4. Apply your lip color. You can use a creamy matte color if you want it really vibrant.
  5. Apply your lip gloss on top.

And you’re good to go! Adding lip gloss gives your lips a bright and lustrous sheen that amplifies your lip color and makes your lips stand out.

Types of Lip Gloss

Like many other cosmetic products, lip glosses are made for different purposes. Let’s look at some of the most popular kinds:

1. Sheer Gloss 

This is probably the most common lip gloss. This gloss is clear or pearlescent and looks excellent on top of lip color to add a nice glossy finish.

2. Tinted Gloss

A cropped photo of a woman pouting her lips and holding tinted lip gloss on one hand

If you don’t want to use multiple products, lip glosses can be highly pigmented too. Colored glosses can provide a bold enough color to rival lipsticks and lasts as long.

3. Shimmer Gloss

A 90’s classic, shimmer lip gloss is full of finely milled shimmer for that gorgeous shimmery look.

4. Glitter Gloss

Different from shimmer, glitter gloss is a chunkier, more reflective glitter formula for a very sparkly finish.

How Is Lip Gloss Made?

Now that you know more about what lip gloss is for and how it’s used, let’s answer the question “What’s lip gloss made of?” and let’s learn how to select the best lip gloss for you.

Lip gloss is made from a typical base of either wax or petroleum jelly.

It’s often combined with various ingredients like oils, fragrances, pigments, and sometimes vitamins and minerals.

The chosen ingredients are melted together to make the gloss. Once melted, it’s poured into the selected package like a squeezable applicator or tube and then cooled until ready for use.

While the basic recipe for lip gloss is usually the same, it can be highly personalized to suit different needs.

What Are the Main Ingredients of Lip Gloss?

While the main ingredients tend to be the same, the answer to what is lip gloss made out of is… it depends.

Not all glosses are created the same, and the answer may differ depending on the brand and type of gloss you use. 

As mentioned, the main ingredient is the gloss base, which is usually wax or petroleum jelly combined with a carrier oil.

Alongside these two, other ingredients used to enrich the gloss include vitamins, scents, other essential oils, and sometimes anesthetics, depending on the product.

Let’s learn more about the different ingredients.

A variety of lip glosses on a pink background.

Emollients in Lip Gloss

One of the main differences between gloss and lipstick is that the former often uses emollients while the latter more often uses wax.

Emollients can soften the skin and help the lip gloss prevent moisture loss. They can also work as moisturizing agents. Some examples include coconut oil, argan oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and more.

Emollients are typically oils, and they give the gloss that gel-like texture and make it slick and shiny.

These oils may be natural or synthetic. If products use organic and high-quality oils, they often last longer. However, this also makes them more expensive.

Waxes in Lip Gloss

Some glosses also use wax as a medium to mix the other ingredients.

When your product is a bit more sticky and the lip gloss stays longer, this is probably a gloss with a lot of wax content.

Wax can also help moisturize and seal in moisturize chapped lips. The waxes used include carnauba, shea butter, lanolin, and beeswax.

Thickeners in Lip Gloss

Thickeners are added to, you guessed it, thicken the product and also to keep it from dripping off your lips when you apply it. 

Waxes like beeswax and ozokerite are used as gloss thickeners. Alternatively, clays like kaolinite can also be used to thicken lip gloss and add texture.

Anesthetic Agents in Lip Gloss

Some medicated glosses have mild anesthetics. These agents help soothe irritated lips.

Some examples of these include the following:

  1. Camphor
  2. Menthol
  3. Mint

When your lips feel tingly after applying a gloss, you can bet that one of the ingredients of that lip gloss is an anesthetic.

Fragrances in Lip Gloss

Sometimes when you mix all the different ingredients, the result is a product that may have a strange or unpleasant smell.

Because of that, many products add a scent to make them more appealing and to cover up any strange smells from other ingredients.

These scents, often essential oils, give lip gloss a long-lasting pleasant scent even after being opened and exposed to the air and environment for a long time.

Color Pigments in Lip Gloss

Many lip gloss products are also mixed with various colors and tints to provide a hint of color. Some have such vibrant pigments so people can use them alone without lip color.

Most flavored lip glosses use color pigments, while clear and nude glosses skip this ingredient.

Some of the coloring ingredients used are traditional Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved dyes or natural elements like fruit extracts from fruits like dragonfruit, roselle, and beetroot, to name a few.

Other tinted glitter glosses also use mineral deposits like iron oxide or mica for color and shimmer.

Antioxidants and Sunscreen in Lip Gloss

Because many beauty lovers want multipurpose products that protect their skin, several lip glosses are formulated as protective agents for the lips.

Brands often enrich their glosses with vitamins E and C and nutrient-rich plant- and fruit-based extracts to protect the lips and neutralize free radicals that can potentially damage the skin’s collagen and elasticity.

Additionally, sun blockers are often added to protect lips from the sun and UV rays.

Ingredients You Should Avoid (Like Whale Sperm?)

Now that you know the basic answer to the question ‘What is lip gloss made from?” are there specific ingredients you should avoid? Like whale sperm?

Don’t worry, the age-old rumor that lip gloss is made with whale sperm is really just that — a rumor. There is no scientific evidence that sperm (whale or otherwise) is used to make lip gloss.

There are, however, some ingredients that you would benefit from skipping. The most important of which is anything that might cause allergies. 

Common allergens in makeup include preservatives, dyes, metals, and some fragrances.

Here are ingredients you should also skip:

1. Parabens

You’ve undoubtedly heard this word before.

Parabens are chemicals most commonly used as preservatives in various cosmetic products. They are used to lengthen product life and prevent mold and bacteria growth.

It’s always a good idea to avoid parabens because they can disrupt the body’s hormones and even potentially impact reproductive functions or increase the risk of cancer.

2. Synthetic Antioxidants 

These are antioxidants created through chemical processes. They are also used as preservatives in lip balms, glosses, and other products. 

Ones to avoid include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). These have been linked to various health issues, like potentially causing respiratory irritation or even cancer. 

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use natural and organic ingredients whenever possible.

3. Bee Venom

There are lip gloss products known as lip plumpers. These products temporarily give your lips a plumper and fuller look. 

What you may not know is how these products work. They are mild irritants to the lips, making them plump through temporary swelling or inflammation. 

Some glosses use spicy irritants like cinnamon oil or capsicum, while some use bee venom to fool the skin and make it believe it has been stung, leading to swelling. 

Using bee venom products is not recommended if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies. 

The same is true for even food-derived spicy ingredients. Plus, you can irritate and chap your lips by using lip plumpers too often. 

If you really want to use them, try to opt for ones with mild ingredients boosted with hyaluronic acid to protect your skin

And don’t fall for the claims that these products can permanently change your lips. There is no natural way to make your lips fuller outside of lip fillers.

a woman applying lip gloss under natural lighting

Frequently Asked Questions About Lip Gloss

Is lip gloss healthy?

Lip gloss in moderation, like any other product, is okay. Just be aware of the product you’re using and its ingredients. 

Some glosses may be bad for you, depending on their ingredients, so knowing the answer to the question “What is lip gloss made up of?” is highly important. 

Some ingredients may worsen dry lip problems, depending on how your skin reacts to them.

Also, overusing any products with plumping agents can irritate lips.

Can too much lip gloss be bad?

Too much of anything can be harmful. As a rule of thumb, listening to your body is always good. 

Even your favorite lip products may not be good to use repeatedly if your lips feel chapped, irritated, or dry.

Can lip gloss expire?

Like all makeup, lip gloss can expire. Because it’s liquid, glosses should be replaced more often than lipstick. 

You should be able to use your gloss safely for a year, but if you notice it starts to smell differently, separate, or change, it’s best to replace it.

What are the ingredients in lip gloss we should try to find?

While there are ingredients you should avoid, some are also good to seek out. 

Natural, organic ingredients are best to look for, and if you can find lip products that contain vitamin E and zinc oxide, these can prevent the lips from getting sunburned or chapped.

Not All Lip Glosses are Created Equal

It’s always good to know what your favorite beauty products are made of. That way, you can make informed decisions about which products benefit your skin best.

Remember, just like all glosses aren’t created equal, your skin is unique and won’t always react the same as others when it comes to certain products.

Be sure to test products first to see how you react before committing to your favorites.

If you choose your products carefully, you can find high-quality products that look great on you and are healthy for you too!

What are your favorite lip glosses? Share in the comments below.

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  • Michelle Alejandro

    Michelle has had a lifelong love affair with makeup. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Communications /Journalism, she began an illustrious career as a writer. Michelle penned a beauty and lifestyle national newspaper column for over a decade and became the Beauty Editor for Chalk Magazine and Editor-in-Chief for Metro Weddings for over nine years, working with some of the biggest makeup artists and trusted beauty brands in the business. During this time, she also completed a course in Creative Artistic Makeup Design and worked as a freelance makeup artist, beauty editor, and writer.

  • Rebecca Green

    With ten years in the beauty industry, Rebecca Green has mastered the art of makeup. Trained by celebrity makeup artist Debra Macki, she's worked from Macy's to Bobbi Brown, freelanced for high-profile clients, and even launched her own brand, BeccaPink Makeup. Her versatility spans from everyday looks to editorial shoots, and her work has been featured in Greek Cosmopolitan.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for this wonderful information

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