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[Formulation] How to make a liquid lipstick (long lasting and waterproof)

How to make liquid lipstick

“How do I make a liquid lipstick?”

This post is going to disclose all the secrets to make a matte long lasting liquid lipstick from scratch.

The info I‘ll provide is also a great starting point to learn how to make liquid lipstick at home and for fun.

At the end of the post, I will also show you which ingredient provides the smudge proof effect and how you can easily control it.

 NOTE: the market for liquid lipsticks is highly competitive and close to saturation.

 To be successful, you need a lipstick that stands out. The variety of formulations and shades is almost comprehensive. For this reason, I do not recommend to start a new beauty line with liquid lipstick as the first product.

 I do not intend to discourage you, I’m simply offering honest advice. If you still want to pursue it,  make sure you have an awesome marketing team and, of course, an adequate budget.

You can find almost all the ingredients you need on the internet or you can purchase a base and add the pigments to create your custom shades.

With so many liquid lipsticks on the market, it’s no surprise to see they have many ingredients in common.

 After talking with hundreds of people, I realized one of the highest rated lipstick is the Jeffree Star- Velour.

 It is a vegan and long-lasting lipstick. It’s not completely smudge-proof, but this is a plus as it doesn’t dry out your lips.

 I‘ve never worked for Jeffree Star nor have any kind of relationship with this company. What I am going to write is merely based on my experience, intuition, and knowledge as a cosmetic chemist.

 PRO TIP: To improve the performance of any lipstick, use a lip scrub before application.

How to make a liquid lipstick- The Ingredients

 

JS liquid lipstick ingredients --- Click here

NOTE: there’s no guarantee the ingredients list you find on the producer’s website is the actual one, but it should list the key ingredients.

 

Isododecane. Is the solvent (carrier) you’ll find in 90% of the lipsticks out there. It is a volatile, colorless and odorless liquid.

Horrible (but cheaper) alternatives are paraffin/mineral oil. Better ones are some volatile silicones (for example trisiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane or dimethicone).  

Isododecane in a liquid lipstick formula is around 60%-65% and provides a non-tacky feeling while also minimizing the color transfer.

 Trimethylsiloxysilicate: it’s responsible for the long-lasting, waterproof effect as film forming agent. Its % goes from about 10% up to 20%. Do not go way over 20% or you’ll get a lipstick that crumbles. Trimethylsiloxysilicate is highly soluble in isododecane.

 Dimethicone contributes to the waterproof effect and acts as both film-forming and emollient. Its concentration varies from 16 to 20%.

Dimethicone in liquid lipstick

Dimethicone belongs to the silicones class and it's often used in liquid lipsticks for its emollient and waterproof properties .

Kaolin: opacifying and mattifying agent.

Synthetic Beeswax it’s used as a thickening agent at around 4%. Not all liquid lipsticks have waxes that are put in them. Fumed silica act as thickening agent, too. If you decide to use wax, do not put too much or the lipstick will be sticky.

Cyclopentasiloxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, and  Propylene Carbonate: three ingredients that are sold as a unique product called BENTONE GEL® VS-5PC V HV. In the U.S it’s distributed by DD Chemco (See details here). Cyclopentasiloxane is a volatile silicone.

This gel acts as:

 -Viscosity increasing agent.

 -Suspending agent (you need something that keeps your pigments suspended, or after a few days you’ll find them at the bottom of the bottle).

 -Enhances skin feel.

 You can incorporate Bentone Gel in the formula at around 5%. You must use a medium or high-shear mixer. You’ll see chunks at first. Do not proceed until all the chunks have been dissolved.

 I know some of you don’t have a business address (yet! ) and thus don’t have access to ulprospector.com to request samples. As mentioned in my raw material report, most likely you’ll still be able to receive samples if you contact the company directly, and provide your UPS or FedEx account #.

 If you really can’t find this ingredient, no worries. There’s a very close one here

 Hydrogenated Polyisobutene enhances color shine and acts as emollient. I would use it in a lipgloss rather than matte lipstick.

 Silica Dimethyl Silylate is a fumed silica that has been treated with a silicone.

 -It prevents the pigments from  “bleeding” into the lines of the lips.

 – By increasing the viscosity of the formula, It prevents pigments from settling.

 -It provides optimal pigments stability and water resistance.

Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E) is an antioxidant. It’s needed for stability or marketing reasons. Usually, you can’t go wrong by adding it at a 0.2%.

Hydrogen Dimethicone ensures adherence to the skin. It’s a difficult ingredient to source and not necessary.

Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate it’s a UV adsorber and prevents shades variations besides protecting your lips.

Ethylhexylglycerin has a bacteriostatic (limits bacteria reproduction) and moisturizing effect. Due to a synergistic effect, the dosage of the preservative can be reduced when this ingredient is present. Unnecessary in this kind of products.

 Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol is a preservative known as Lexgard HPO. A liquid lipstick, being an oil-based formulation, doesn’t require a preservative. I’ve formulated lipsticks with no preservative that were able to pass stability, pet and microbiological tests. However, remember that not adding a preservative could make you lose customers.

How to make a liquid lipstick-other common ingredients

Nylon12. It’s used to increase payoff and texture.

Synthetic Fluorphlogopite. It helps with the mattifying effect. Can replace talc, kaolin and similar.

Polypropylsilsesquioxane: you’ll often find it in association with trimethylsiloxysilicate. It provides a silky smooth feel.

 –Polyethylene: acts as a binder and increases hardness and slip.

 –Trihydroxystearin is a thickening agent that can replace wax. Having a lower melting point, it can benefit volatile ingredients such as Cyclopentasiloxane (less heating required than waxes). Trihydroxystearin is a naturally derived (modified hydrogenated Castor Oil).

liquid lipstick other common ingredients

liquid lipstick: what are other common ingredients?

Liquid lipstick formula

Finally, it’s time to write down a formula.

This step might be tricky if you don’t have any formulation knowledge, but don’t worry because you can simply copy this one. I have eliminated some ingredients and added some others.

 This is just a general formula that will definitely work, but of course, it can be further improved and customized. My goal here is to leave you some practical advice.

 Isododecane 54.6%

Trimethylsiloxysilicate 17%

Dimethicone 15%

Bentone Gel 5%

Synthetic Fluorphlogopite 3%

Synthetic Beeswax 2%

Fumed Silica 2.5%

Tocopheryl Acetate 0.2%

Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol 0.2%

You’ll want to add pigments at the end to obtain your favorite shades. When making those shades, even a 0.01% variation can make a huge difference, so you really want to have an accurate scale. If you’re uncertain on what to buy, Ohaus is an excellent brand (this, in particular, has a readability of 0.01g and 200g capacity).

 For the shades, I suggest you use iron oxides as a starting point as they’re easy to handle and give a very noticeable, strong coloration. Here you can find a great selection of pigments.

liquid lipstick pigments

A huge variety of pigments can be used to make liquid lipstick


How to start a cosmetic business

Create a successful cosmetic business.

 If you want to slightly modify the formula, don’t pay obsessive attention to the overall sum of the ingredients (that should yield 100% ) nor to the preservative. You can fix those details later, usually by adjusting the isododecane.

Instead, focus on the 3  key ingredients and try to find the best ratio (= the one that works best for you). The 3 key ingredients are trimethylsiloxysilicate, Bentone gel and dimethicone.

 Feel free to leave out the preservative from your calculation as well. You might not even want to use it.

Procedure

To make everything easier, start by making 100g of product. 

By doing this, you don’t have to make any calculations with the ingredients. It’s straightforward. If the formula says 60% isododecane, the weight is 60 g. It’s that simple!

Need to purchase beakers, scale or other stuff? Take a look at this post.

Weigh the isododecane in a beaker and add the trimethylsiloxysilicate. It will dissolve easily.

Add the dimethicone and then the Benton gel. To exert its full potential, the Benton gel needs to be dispersed using a high shear mixer (this one is perfect).

Add the vitamin E and the preservative (if using it).

Add the fumed silica. This step is very important, fumed silica must be properly dispersed to exert its function. You should be using a high shear mixer and mix for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have a high shear mixer, don’t use the fumed silica. Increase the wax by 2% instead.

Add the wax, melt it, and let it cool down while stirring.

Add the pigments while always mixing. If the mixing of the pigments becomes too difficult after adding the pigments, it’s possible to add them right before the wax when the viscosity is lower.

The most difficult thing when making a liquid lipstick is to achieve the perfect balance between a long-lasting effect and a comfortable wear. There’s no silver bullet for this. My suggestion is to try as many combinations as you can.

 When you increase the trimethylsiloxysilicate, you’re aiming at making a completely smudge-proof, waterproof product. The liquid lipstick will form a hydrophobic film on your skin that gives a drying feel. This kind of lipstick usually has a very short list of ingredients, I would say 6 or 7 plus the colorants (for example this one).

How to remove liquid lipstick

To remove even the most stubborn lipstick, an oil-based remover is your only chance.

When I say oil-based, I don’t necessarily mean oils such as olive oil, coconut oil etc.

From a chemical point of view, what matters, is to use a low polarity substance ( for instance isododecane or Cyclopentasiloxane)

 If you look at this bestseller make-up remover, you’ll see that it contains Cyclopentasiloxane and isohexadecane (which is very similar to isododecane). 


Have you ever tried to formulate a liquid lipstick? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments section below

45 thoughts on “[Formulation] How to make a liquid lipstick (long lasting and waterproof)

  1. When using kaolin in this formula, when should it be added in the formulation sequence.

    1. Thank you for your comment. You can add the kaolin at the end, right before the pigments.

  2. When using a polybutene ingredient, which viscosity is used, thinner or thicker?

    1. You can use both. If you use the one with higher viscosity, you might want to adjust (decrease ) the % of the thickening agent a bit.

  3. When using Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, what stage can I incorporate it?

    1. Add it to the oil phase along with other oil soluble ingredients. It can be heated up to approximately 85C degrees.

  4. Hi
    first I want to thank you for useful tips for formulation lipstick.
    second is there any alternative for
    – Isododecane
    – trimethyl siloxy silicate
    Thanks
    fatemeh zonozi

    1. Thanks! cyclomethicone and/or cyclopentasiloxane can replace isododecane. Polypropylsilsesquioxane can replace trimethylsiloxysilicate.

  5. Hi Ms.Luisa, I just want to ask the percentage of

    dimethicone
    trymethylsiloxysilicate
    kaolin clay

    to provide a matte and transferproof lip cream?

    1. It’s impossible to tell. I don’t even know what you’re trying to make.

  6. Is there a particular website or place you typically purchase these ingredients from? I have found a few ingredients online but everything is at different stores. I was wondering if there is just one or two places all the ingredients could be purchased from.

    1. as far as I remember makingcosmetics.com has all of them.

  7. Hello! my lip ink is too watery. my friends want to buy some from me but request to have a thicker consistency. what ingredient should i add?

    1. I should see the formula but as you can read in the article beeswax can increase the viscosity.

  8. Can i add aloe vera or carrier oil to this formula?

    1. No, aloe vera is water soluble and won’t work. Carrier oils won’t work as well because they will make the lipstick smudge.

  9. i know jefree star is the most popular but the formula is dry and crumbles easily,hes a social media star so it will be popular,sephora matte lip cream is amazing that would be an amazing for you to break down

    1. Thank you for the comment. You might be right. I’m more specialized in skincare now and aren’t really aware of what is going on in the makeup world.

  10. Hi Luisa! Thanks for all the information on this page. I know this is not the topic of the post but I wonder if you know if there is a safe way to convert a lipstick into a liquid matte lipstick?

    1. No. Because traditional lipstick is solid, liquid lipstick is liquid. Clearly they have two different formulas. Or maybe I didn’t understand your question…

  11. Thank you for the valuable information. Great job
    Keep it up.

    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging words and thank you for reading!

      1. Good day ,
        Love the formula was wondering if you can come up with a creamy liquid lipstick formula to follow?

  12. Thanks for sharing useful information, Please share some more information about Bentone gel, its ingredients and procedure of manufacturing.

    1. Thank you! There are different kinds of bentone gel and composition is different. I would suggest contacting the supplier/distributor DD Chemco or subscribing to ulprospector.com/personalcare to find info needed.

  13. Luisa buongiorno, complimenti per il sito.
    Ho provato questa formulazione. La trovo molto buona e performante.
    Una sola cosa: come può essere possibile che aggiungendo i pigmenti, su alcuni colori, dopo qualche ora ho una separazione di isododecano?
    Da notare che la base, prima di essere colorata, si presenta perfettamente omogenea anche dopo giorni.

    Grazie in anticipo.

    Luca

    1. Hi Luca, it’s probably because you don’t use enough suspending agent. It also depends on the pigments you’re using.

  14. Great explaination

  15. Love the formula just but what I really want to know is how do you make a creamy liquid lipstick Instead of a matte liquid lipstick ?

    1. Not sure what you mean. The matte liquid lipstick describes has a creamy texture.

      1. No I meaning I know it’s matte but I would love to make one that is not matte

        1. it would be a lipgloss rather than a lipstick. This formula is for lipstick.

  16. What is a good substitution for Bentone Gel

  17. Hi, Luisa,
    So glad to have found you. Like you I answer questions on Quora. I’m hoping to draw a little attention to myself so that I can make pocket change now that I have stopped working for good. I hope Quora has been good to you. I’m overjoyed to have found your site. Everything you’ve said about reading ingredients, and all the rest, I’ve known for years. But what I’ve never been able to figure out is what actually works. Your common sense answer makes me feel confident. I’m waiting for my severance pay and you can believe I will be using your product. At 59 years old, I’m pretty lucky. I never wore very much makeup, especially not foundations and powders. Usually a little mascara and some lip gloss. I smoked from age 16 to age 32. But I suspect with my fair skin and too much exposure to the sun, I have those horrible vertical lines on my upper lip (more above it). I’m lucky, I’ve seen much worse. But still, my lips were never super full and now I feel like I have dried up flaps (at least the upper lip). I’m hoping to get any results. I might be exaggerating because I’m so self conscious about them…to make matters worse I used to have a tiny small mole under my bottom lip that has decided to grow a bit. Yes, I’ve had it checked out. Just old age striking again. But it’s much closer to my bottom lip and so between the wrinkles and dryness, I can’t wear hardly any lipstick or even just tinted chapstick between my upper lip thinness and the lipstick has no where to go but in those vertical lines. On the bottom lip it seems to run down to the mole emphasizing it. I might as well go ahead and just add some to the mole because somehow the lipstick always creeps down there. I’d say there is less than two hair widths between the mole and lip so it takes an act of courage to hold my hand still enough to draw the line and not hit the mole. Anyway, long, long, long story not short…I only saw the 2-3 products on your website. I was hoping perhaps you could steer me to a few of your clients who have succeeded in following your methods and need a “tester”. Of course, I would pay retail costs…just thought maybe they would like someone with difficult lips to try and give feedback. Cheers!

    1. Thank you! Will keep your offer in mind!

  18. Hi! I’m just a student from Philippines and I want to start a cosmetic business. I just want to ask why doesn’t your formula has titanium dioxide? I thought it was necessary. I also want to know what is the purpose of anti-oxidant agents? And if Vitamin E is a great moisturizer, why can’t I add more? Thank you!

    1. Vitamin E is used as antioxidant. You can add more if you want , but the product might come out too sticky. Titanium dioxide is included in the colorants. I provided the formula for the base.

  19. Very informative, I like your content 🙂

  20. Hello! I have been researching cosmetic formulas for a while now, and I am very interested in purchasing the ingredients needed to start making some of my own! Thank you so much for all of the info posted here, Luisa. I have a few questions

    -On makingcosmetics.com , there is a matte liquid lipstick kit that you can purchase. It comes with a pre-mixed base, and colorants. Is the reason their kit does not require a high shear mixer because all of the ingredients that would need to be blended together using the mixer…is already done to create the base?

    -I cannot afford a high shear mixer at this time. Is there any alternative way to make your formula, or ANY formula, without one? Is there a cheaper substitute? and, if there is NOT…Can I buy the base mixture from makingcosmetics, and tweak their formula by adding various percentages of the ingredients listed in YOUR formulation?

    I’m really excited about diving in and trying some things out, but my lack of high shear mixer is causing me to question what is actually achievable or not. can you help me?

    1. I went on makingcosmetics.com to take a look at the kit. It looks like it’s on the liquid side. If you can’t even afford the mixer I posted in the other comment, your only possibility is to use kitchen mixing tools. Result won’t be the same, but you can always upgrade in the future.

  21. Hello, I posted a comment on here earlier but it seems to have been erased.

    I’m wanting to start experimenting with making my own cosmetics, and I just saw you on the episode regarding the makeup industry on the Netflix show “Broken”. I’m so glad I found you!

    I cannot afford a high shear mixer at this time, as I am only just beginning my journey into makeup production. I have found some kits on other websites that all include a pre made base, which is why I assume they do not talk about needing to blend anything with a high shear mixer. My question is:

    -Can I adjust the pre made bases and formulas I purchase from somewhere else with some of the ingredients from your formula in order to change the consistency etc?

    -Is there any alternative to the high shear mixer since I cannot afford one? I would love to be able to experiment with formulas from scratch, like the one you provided above!

    any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi John! The premade bases are a great idea. However, you’ll need a mixer to disperse the pigments. There are some inexpensive ones which are okay for beginners…for example this one https://amzn.to/2RrqVav

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