Your Lipstick Is Killing You

Have you ever wondered why some makeup brands are so expensive? Yes, there are certain brands that work better than others, and as girls we all have our preferences. So I won’t write about which ones not to buy because they’re “too expensive.” Instead I’m going to explore whether it’s the ingredients or the brand name itself that makes them so expensive.


I’m not one to wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis, so I don’t do much makeup shopping. But I know a handful of girls who like to experiment with makeup as I like to experiment with nail polish. I know the basic brands like CoverGirl, Maybelline, and so on (what I would call the medium price point) work really well. I’ve also picked up some of e.l.f.’s line (the low price point) but only used those products once or twice. Since I’m not a makeup guru, I’ve always stayed away from the expensive brands for the simple fact that I didn’t want to waste money.

One possible theory as to why makeup is so expensive is the quality of ingredients that make up the makeup. So I’ve explored different websites and found a lot more information than I originally thought—especially since there are so many types of makeup and products to explore. As an overview of lipstick, for example, I can report that most of them contain the same basic ingredients. You can find your favorite products’ ingredients and hazards on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

My biggest concern is that lead still is an ingredient in lipstick. An article that highlighted a study of popular lipsticks cited many mid-range lipsticks as having high levels of lead—meaning if you apply it more than three times a day, daily, you’re at risk for lead poisoning, among other health concerns. The author said that Wet n’ Wild, Bobbi Brown, and Shiseido brand lipsticks have the smallest amount of lead in them. The NY Times also wrote about a study that found lead in more than 400 lipstick brands.

Another one of my theories as to why some brands are more expensive than others is whether they test on animals. It doesn’t necessarily influence my choice of makeup, but some people are really cautious of brands that test on animals. Is it possible that there is some level of correlation between animal testing and price? Aveda and M.A.C. are both owned by Estee Lauder. Aveda doesn’t test on animals, but M.A.C. does. Both brands sell basic lipsticks for $16. Cheaper brands (like Wet ‘n Wild, e.l.f., and NYX) don’t test on animals, and mid-range brands (like Maybelline, Almay, and Avon) test on animals. Brands might have to compensate for animal testing (aka, more expensive makeup). To find a company that doesn’t test on animals and for more information, visit PETA’s website.

Even though everyone has their own opinion about why makeup is expensive, this website lists a couple of possible reasons. Basically, the author says that the expensive brands: (1) Use higher-quality ingredients—I still don’t understand how the same ingredients could be “higher-quality” to affect performance; (2) have more various color choices; (3) use more expensive/elaborate packaging; and (4) advertise more than their competitors.


E.l.f’s eye palette offers 144 shades and costs $15.


Urban Decay’s Electric palette offers 10 shades and costs $49.










You can make your own conclusions about my theories from the resources I provided (or any others), but personally I think cheaper brands are cheap because they don’t test on animals, and they contain the smallest amount of lead (an expensive ingredient). Packaging and advertising also play a role in price, considering e.l.f.’s packages are very basic with black and white type and Urban Decay, for example, is very elaborate and colorful. What do you think? Tell me in the comments below!


Charice’s Costmetics — Naturally Cruelty Free Lipstick



One thought on “Your Lipstick Is Killing You

  1. V says:

    Interesting article! To me, quality can effect price but not necessarily. A lot of it too is brand recognition. I won’t name names, but certain brands that usually make high quality products get away with selling an average or low quality product here and there because of their name.


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