Women who suffer from makeup fade-out may find a cure among the latest crop of cosmetics. More and more lipsticks, eye shadows, foundations, eye pencils, blushers and even mascaras have a common theme: longevity. They are intended to be applied and stay put.
Their aim is to help women overcome the problem of lipsticks that are licked or eaten off in an hour; foundations, blushers and eye shadows that quickly sink into the skin; pencils that fade or smear within minutes of mingling with tears or skin oils.
The demand for the new products, some cosmetics company executives say, came from women who work.
"The general inclination toward more and more long wear has come from women being busier and having less and less time for the pampering stuff during the day," said Annette Golden, executive vice president of creative marketing for Revlon. "It was something that started with the consumer earlier in the 80s, but part of the ability to achieve it came from some new technologies."
Advertisements for longer-wearing cosmetics promise marathon staying power. Lipsticks like Lancome's Rouge Superbe, Max Factor's New Definition LipColor; Revlon's Velvet Touch, and L'Oreal's Colour Supreme Long Wearable Lipstick variously promise to cling from four to six hours.
Revlon's Overtime Shadow claims "crease-proof" wear on the eyes from 9 to 5. Max Factor's Splish Splash mascara is made to stay on up to three hours under water. Maybelline's Finish Matte makeup foundation contains oil-absorbing ingredients and promises a long-wearing matte patina.
Do the claims hold up? Ultimately it depends upon the wearer and how she uses a product.
It is tougher for cosmetics to stay true on oily skin than on dry. And women who lick their lips more frequently, touch their skin more often or apply a product more sparingly will not get as much wear as those who do not.
The new lipsticks cling because the technology of dispersing colorants has become more sophisticated and the bases, which are made of waxes and oils, are made to stay on the lips longer, industry officials say.
Even then, lipsticks in tones like pale pink and brown will not stay on as long as reds and oranges, said John Penicnak, senior vice president of the corporate scientific department at Lancome.
Efforts to prevent makeup fade-out date to the 1950s, when lipsticks left indelible orange or bluish-purple stains even after the original color had worn off stains that could be removed only by scrubbing with soap and water. Those products, made with heavy doses of colorants known as bromo acids, were also responsible for extreme drying of the lips, irritation and allergic reactions.
While the new lipsticks still use some of the same staining dyes, they use much smaller quantities of them, so users generally do not encounter the same reactions caused by earlier products.
"The newer dyes in lipsticks seem to be quite safe," said Dr. Alexander A. Fisher, a New York City dermatologist who specializes in contact dermatitis. "So far we haven't had any problems with them."
When it comes to eye shadows, improvements in longevity are attributed to the use of different binders to hold the powder together and different pigment treatments to make them cling better to the eyelid, Ms. Golden said.
The demand for more makeup bases with a matte or natural finish has led to a reduction in the oil content, so the makeup also wears longer, she said.
Still, when it comes to lipsticks at least, it is sometimes hard to believe the claims of staying power. A lipstick that will stay on through a meal? Maybe if the wearer sips through a straw.