Hopes for truly long-lasting lipstick must no longer simply be kissed off Fashion: Cosmetics companies say they have discovered the secrets to colors that stay on at least a full workday.

July 11, 1996|By Valli Herman | Valli Herman,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

The words on the lips of almost every cosmetics company these days are "long lasting." In their search for makeup that stays put, companies are focusing right on the kisser.

For decades, cosmetics makers have attached long-wearing claims to their products. But making a lipstick that really sticks has been the big challenge. Unlike eye shadow or even foundation, lipstick is worn off by eating, talking and contact with coffee cups.

Now many companies say they have discovered the secrets for lipstick that lasts at least a full workday, as well as for other long-wearing color cosmetics.

A mass-market breakthrough came in 1993 when the Revlon corporation introduced Ultima II Lipsexxxy Lipcolor (Revlon owns Ultima).

The ultra-matte stick delivered deep color, a drier texture and a promise not to transfer to cups or cheeks. A year later, Revlon came out with its own brand, ColorStay Lipcolor, which quickly became its most successful lipstick and its big money maker.

"For years, lots of lipsticks have said they last a long time," says Kathy Dwyer, president of Revlon Cosmetics North America. "What made it [ColorStay] credible to consumers was that it doesn't transfer off."

The company recently patented the ColorStay formula, a move that reflects how carefully companies are trying to guard their formulas.

Dwyer says her product is different from ordinary matte lipsticks because, "it's not a wax-based lipstick."

Like L'Oreal's Colour Endure, the lipsticks stay on thanks to silicone and a blend of new oils and waxes.

Now prestige brands, such as Lancome, Guerlain and Shiseido, are following the mass marketers' lead with lip products they say won't kiss off.

The longer-lasting lipsticks have virtually sailed off shelves, causing some makers to tack "long wear" labels onto lip liner, mascara, eye shadow and foundation.

The performance claims multiply, too.

Revlon's parent corporation is suing L'Oreal (maker of Colour Endure) and Maybelline (maker of Great Lip Lip Color), claiming that they're selling what Revlon calls "copycat" products. Revlon already settled out of court with competitor Procter & Gamble Co., which makes Cover Girl and Max Factor.

P&G challenged the Revlon ColorStay advertising claim that its foundation "won't rub off." (Revlon agreed to modify ads to indicate the foundation is "transfer resistant, not transfer proof.")

The concept of "long wearing" continues to be confusing, especially to consumers.

"There is no industry standard," says Eva Lesko, spokeswoman for Clinique, maker of Long Last Lipstick.

But consumers seem satisfied, so far, that with the newest formulations "longer" can mean longer than what you're used to, but on average, about eight hours. That new staying power is largely the result of silicone, a chemical that absorbs moisture.

Scientists can coat color pigments with silicone, which helps the pigments sit on the skin's surface instead of sinking and fading into it. Other formula ingredients evaporate after application and leave a firm film, which keeps the color intact.

The evaporation process is why most "long lasting" lipsticks must set for 60 seconds or more and aren't to be blotted.

And don't forget to snap the cap shut or else the stick may dry up like a sponge, says Geoffrey Finkenaur, manager of lip products for L'Oreal.

He says performance, or the feel of the lipstick, was the big challenge to cosmetics scientists seeking a long-wearing product.

"In the '50s, they had kiss-proof lipstick. They added tremendous amounts of certain colorings and actually stained the lips.

But they were incredibly drying," says Finkenaur. "And the only tones you could get were blue reds."

The new silicone-based formulas contain built-in lip conditioners, such as L'Oreal's jojoba oil, or Shiseido's "moist power capsules."

Some companies have developed separate lip moisturizer products, such as Revlon's Lip Condition.

Application techniques can set traditional makeup longer, says Laura Mercier, a Parisian makeup artist who recently launched her own Texas-based cosmetics line called Laura Mercier Classiques. (Her foundation primer is formulated to extend foundation wear.) But lipstick is trickier.

"If you make a matte lipstick, you have to increase the pigment load so much and decrease the oils. It stays on, but it can be really uncomfortable, especially if you have dry or sensitive lips," says Mercier.

Any matte lipstick tends to have long wear because it is drier. Paula Begoun, author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," calls Lipsexxxy and others like it "ultra matte lipstick."

"This category of lipstick goes on truly flat," she says. "It doesn't kiss off because it's so dry. It has no movement. Creamy comes off."

It's no coincidence that most of the new silicone-based, long-lasting lipsticks have a deep matte finish. Few truly glossy formulas are long wearing, though Clinique now offers a longer-wearing lip gloss.

'This is high tech.'

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