The chemicals and compounds often found in lip glosses include petroleum jelly, beeswax, mica, parabens preservatives and artificial dyes. Many lip glosses also contain toxic substances such as lead, arsenic and cadmium. Others, however, feature only safe, organic and non-toxic ingredients.
All colored lip glosses contain pigment suspended in a viscous carrier medium. Thick, sticky glosses stay on the lips for much longer than thinner products. Some lip glosses provide more than color and shine by plumping lips with peppermint extract or other mild irritants. Consumers with sensitive lips often report that plumping glosses cause a mild tingling or burning sensation, while others feel nothing. For the maximum plumping effect, users should wear these glosses directly on bare lips.
Many lip glosses and balms contain sunblock. Products with SPF prevent sun damage and premature aging, including the development of lines around the lips. To safely wear non-SPF glosses, slick them on over a coat of SPF lip balm.
Individuals concerned about artificial cosmetic dyes prefer lip glosses made with only natural ingredients. These often contain biodegradable plant dyes made from fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians and vegans also avoid glosses made with carmine, a bright red dye made from crushed beetle shells. Beeswax is a popular ingredient in many glosses and lipsticks because it is natural, non-toxic, affordable and has a sweet taste. Like carmine, beeswax is an animal product avoided by most vegans.