The Lipstick Effect


We all love looking beautiful – and I’m sure you will be as fascinated as I am to read about the latest scientific research into “The Lipstick Effect”.

But if you are like me, you DON’T want beauty and self-confidence at the expense of your good health.

If you wear any type of make-up, you absolutely need to know this information about the ingredients in makeup, and what they could be doing to your overall health and to your skin.

If you don’t wear makeup, would you change your mind if you knew that there was a makeup line out there that was so nourishing to the skin that it’s health-giving, and better than wearing no make-up at all? Enjoy the read!!!!

The Lipstick Effect

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Chieti in Italy put the phenomenon called “The Lipstick Effect” to the test. They began their study with this statement:

“What is the relationship between self-esteem and daily life tasks? Do we perform better when we feel more secure of our physical experience?

“Previous studies have shown that higher levels of self-esteem are associated with better academic performance. However, there is no evidence if make-up can indirectly influence academic achievement and cognition through self-esteem.

“In this study, we aim to explore whether or not wearing make-up can increase the level of perceived beauty, with consequent enhancement of self-esteem, resulting in better cognitive performance.”

186 female undergraduate students participated in this study. They were sorted into groups, and each group was given a different “mood-influencing task” – either listening to positive music, colouring a drawing of a human face, or applying makeup. The students then took a simulated multiple choice exam about general psychology, and their scores were noted.

The results were amazing! It was the makeup group that outshone all the others, with “significantly higher” test scores….even higher than those who listened to positive music. Researchers concluded that:

The effect of makeup proved to be a better predictor for higher grades than mood boosters like listening to positive music.

SOURCE: “Does make-up make you feel smarter? The “lipstick effect” extended to academic achievement”, by Rocco Palumbo, Beth Fairfield, Nicola Mammarella and Alberto di Domenico. Evolutionary Psychology, 15th June 2017.

But….Is your lipstick killing you?

After reading about the Lipstick Effect, you may be ready to up your beauty quotient and watch your self-confidence and success soar. And, we now know why so many women love to wear lipstick – it’s a deliberate “pick me up” throughout the day.

Those vibrant pigments often stay on for hours during the day, and some women even choose to sleep with their lipstick on.

But those very same pigments that give lipstick their striking colours also contain harsh chemicals that irritate the skin.

Lipsticks typically include toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury and antimony.

They are also high in formaldehyde and parabens, which are preservatives and known carcinogens, & mineral oils which can block pores.

Lead is actually one of the worst ingredients, and it’s contained in virtually all of your vibrant red lipsticks.

It’s difficult to make a true “red” lipstick unless you use either synthetic dyes (like lead) or….beetle guts!!!!

The FDA identified 400 different lipsticks that contained lead. They say that anything under 10 ppm of lead is safe to use, and a lot of these lipsticks contain around 7ppm of lead….but think about the accumulative effect. I was listening to a fascinating lecture on this by Wendy Mercure at Young Living’s International Grand Convention, and she said that if you start wearing lipstick each day from age 10, you will consume 4 pounds of lipstick over your lifetime!!! WOW – That’s a lot of lead to be exposed to!!!

Lead has been shown to harm not only the nervous system, but also the hormonal system. Other harmful effects from lipsticks include blockage of pores, drying and chapping of lips….and of course the daily poisoning effect from the heavy metals.

Researchers discovered that an average amount of lipstick or lip gloss use resulted in women exceeding the daily intake guidelines for aluminium, cadmium, chromium and manganese. These accumulate in the body’s tissues with continual use, and lead to a build-up of toxicity in the cells.

Your beautiful skin – a two-edged sword

Your skin is beautiful….and it’s also a beautiful sponge. Anything placed on it absorbs into the skin’s layers and from there into the bloodstream…..and this includes toxins. According to Wendy Mercure,

One study showed that some of the contaminants in groundwater were absorbed through the skin more easily than if you’d been drinking it!

So be very careful about what you are applying over your skin, as you might as well be eating it. When we take in these toxins faster than we can excrete them, they start to accumulate in our system. This produces an effect called “Bioaccumulation”.

And it’s this bioaccumulation of toxins from our make-up and personal care products that is linked to autism, low birth rates, Alzheimer’s, mental disorders, heart disease, diabetes, and prostate/breast/testicular cancer.

The harmful chemicals you want to avoid….

1. Parabens:

These are used as a preservative and antibacterial agent, and one of the common parabens (methyl paraben) is found in over 13,000 products.

But it’s a ticking time bomb in our body, because it binds to the estrogen receptor, and mimics estrogen.

Why is this an issue?

Well, in one experiment, it has been found in high concentrations in the breast tissue in 18 out of 20 women studied who have breast tumours.

The University of Reading also studied the link between parabens and breast cancer. They took 4 samples of breast tissue from 40 women who were undergoing mastectomies for breast cancer. Of these 160 samples taken, 99% of them contained at least one paraben, and 60% of the samples contained 5 parabens!

Another study was done where methyl paraben was applied to the skin, and the skin was then exposed to an average amount of UV light….similar to what you’d get with normal sun exposure.

19% of the skin where the methyl paraben had been applied died, compared with only 6% for skin where no methyl paraben had been applied.

So the Methyl Paraben more than tripled the rate of skin death, and it also tripled the amount of lipid peroxide in the skin. That’s the substance that causes wrinkling and skin aging.

And this is what companies are putting into our expensive face creams and lipsticks!

Source articles:

  1. ‘Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum’ by L. Barr, G. Metaxas, C. A. J. Harbach, L. A. Savoy and P. D. Darbre is published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology:

2. Fragrances

Most household products and cosmetics are scented – from dishwashing liquid, to toilet and room deodorisers, to facial products and makeup. And unfortunately synthetic scents are much cheaper to produce than using natural aromas. So instead of turning to nature, many companies turn to chemicals to recreate nature’s smells. A single synthetic fragrance can contain hundreds, if not thousands, of toxic chemicals.

One of the most common groups of chemicals found in synthetic aromas are phthalates (pronounced “thal-ates”).

These are powerful hormone disrupters, tricking our body into increasing or decreasing hormone production.

This is part of the reason why girls are now entering puberty at such an early age:

  • In 1860, the average age for girls reaching puberty was 16.6 years
  • In 2010, it was 10.5 years

Phthalate exposure in the womb and early childhood has now been linked with lower IQ levels, and is one of many potential triggers for ADHD

And men exposed to phthalates are secreting less testosterone. This is serious, because testosterone is so important for male fertility!

Maternal urinary tests are even showing that high phthalates are linked to a 50% increased likelihood of a child developing early onset eczema, and twice the likelihood of developing allergies and wheezing, including asthma. It also is linked to increased behavioural problems, ADHD and autism. And women exposed to phthalates are more likely to develop endometriosis.

Source articles:

  1. Could exposure to phthalates speed up or delay pubertal onset and development? A 1.5-year follow-up of a school-based population, by Y. Zhang, Y. Cao, H. Shi, X. Jiang, Y. Zhao, X. Fang and C. Xie, Environment International. 2015 Oct; 83:41-9. Doi:10. 1016/j. envint.2016.06.005. Epub 2015 Jun 12.
  2. Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Pubertal Development, by Samim Ozen and Şükran DarcanJournal of Clinical Research into Pediatry and Endocrinology. 2011 Mar; 3(1): 1–6. Published online 2011 Feb 23. doi: 10.4274/jcrpe.v3i1.01
  4. Phthalate exposure and children’s neurodevelopment: A systematic review by M. Ejaredar, E.C. Nyanza, K. Ten Eycke and D. Dewey. Environmental Research. 2015 Jun 19;142:51-60. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.06.014. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Association between phthalates and externalizing behaviors and corticol thickness in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, by S. Park, J.M. Lee, J.W. Kim, J.H. Cheong, H.J. Yun, Y.C. Hong, Y. Kim, D.H. Han, H.J. Yoo, M.S. Shin, S.C. Cho, B.N. Kim. Psychological Medicine. 2015 Jun; 45(8):1601-12. doi:10.1017/S0033291714002694. Epub 2014 Nov 12.
  6. Phthalates might interfere with testicular function by reducing testosterone and insulin-like factor 3 levels, by W.H. Chang, S.S. Li, M.H. Wu, H.A. Pan and C.C. Lee, Human Reproduction. 2015 Sep 18, pii: dev225 [Epub ahead of print]


Another common heavy metal found in makeup is Bismuth. It’s very common amongst the mineral makeups, and because it’s pearly in texture, it helps to hide fine lines. It gets into pores, and causes irritation to the skin and itchiness.









Talc is a cheap filler often used to bulk up the mineral makeups. It stops the minerals from clumping together, and in fact it’s the #1 ingredient in some makeup.

But a very well known company is battling 6,000 legal cases claiming that its talc caused ovarian cancer. And in April 2018, this company was ordered to pay $117 million dollars in compensation to a man who allegedly developed mesothelioma from the regular use of talcum powder.

Then of course we have our petrochemicals in many personal care products. These are substances like:

Propylene Glycol

This is an anti-freeze agent, and it’s used not only in cosmetics but also in some pet and baby food in order to help these products to retain their moisture. In cosmetics, it gives you skin that soft, moist feel. But it’s a serious chemical. The safety data sheets say that spillages must be taken to a toxic waste dump.

Not only does it break down protein and cells, which are the foundation of our skin – it also is a skin irritant, causing rashes and dry skin. And it’s been linked to dermatitis, kidney damage, liver abnormalities, nausea, headaches, vomiting and central nervous system depression.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This is another common chemical used in high concentration as a filler in many personal care products.

It’s a harsh engine degreaser, and it is used as a cheap foaming agent so you get the suds (in your soaps, shampoos, cleansers, etc.).

Because it denatures protein (including eye protein), it’s been linked to improper eye development in children, and can even cause permanent eye damage, eye irritation and cataracts.

It breaks down cell membranes, and can lead to hair loss, separation of skin layers, skin inflammation, and damage to the cell’s DNA as well as the body’s immune system.

After reading this, I’m sure you will agree with me that chemicals are NOT the way to good health, and the more that we expose ourselves to these harmful ingredients, the more likely we are to pave the way to a life of health challenges.

It’s amazing how many people have found their family has become healthier once they’ve removed all chemicals from the home – from their cleaning solutions, to their food (ie. avoiding processed foods), to their personal care and makeup products.



If you would love to receive our essential oils bulletin
from The Oil Temple, CLICK HERE to subscribe

If you’re not already receiving our weekly
Raw Divinity bulletin, CLICK HERE to subscribe