Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's The Deal With Airline Food and/or Lipstick Made From Crayons?

Anna asks, "I was wondering if you could possibly make a post concerning DIY makeup, specifically crayola lipstick… Is it actually lip safe? You write my fav empirically supported beauty posts!"

At this point, making lipstick out of crayons is a bonafide DIY sensation, with hundreds of tutorials littering the internet.

Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QloxsO9Jy0E

The most commonly cited reason for using crayons to create lipstick is that lipsticks contain trace amounts of lead. I can wax poetic about how low levels of lead in lipstick isn't a reason to hide in your panic room, but the easiest way to show the silliness of this claim is to write about lead levels in crayons.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), crayons contain between 2 and 5 ppm of lead. The CPSC caps lead levels in children's art materials at 100 ppm. This isn't a concern, because children are not eating huge boxes of crayons and because companies are actually staying well below the legal limit… but it's still higher than what you would find in lipstick. According to the FDA, lipsticks average closer 1.11 ppm. So, there's no real benefit to picking crayons as your lipstick of choice.

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/

There are, however, some noteworthy downsides. Crayons are typically comprised of paraffin wax, which is used in low levels to add a little bit of gloss to lipstick. Unfortunately, because the texture is stiff and brittle, and because it doesn't play nicely with other cosmetics ingredients, you'd be hard-pressed to find a lipstick that is comprised of large amounts of paraffin wax. It's unlikely, then, that crayon-based lipstick will create a lipstick with the texture and color-payoff of a commercially available lipstick.

In addition to paraffin wax, crayons contain pigments. Reasonably, companies like Crayola do not release information about the pigments they use. Unfortunately for crayon-lipstick-makers, that means there is no way to know whether or not the pigments in any given crayon are lip-safe. On their website, Crayola cautions not to use their products on food, such as eggshells (I apparently did Easter wrong as a child… oops…). Although Crayola likely understands that an occasional hunk of crayon will get chewed on, this is still an indication that they are not formulating their product for consistent lip-adjecency. (And why would they?)

Proponents of DIY makeup like crayon lipstick often suggest that creating your own lipstick means you know exactly what is in it, while commercially produced cosmetics are a mystery concoction. In reality, it's the opposite. Crayon lipstick is what you put in it + secret Crayola proprietary ingredients that may or may not be lip-safe, whereas traditional lipsticks have a wonderful, convenient ingredient list.

13 comments:

  1. It is common, but very entertaining, for you to write posts debunking terrible beauty-DIY ideas that I hadn't even heard of previously. (Milk of Magnesia?? CRAYONS?!) Thank you for both parts of that. Your blog is invariably informative.

    Also - even though I'm late - thank you for the PBLC swatches. I went on to buy about 75% of their lipsticks samples, but the eye-approved AND lip-approved glitters are a huge win for me! So... thanks for doing your thing, I guess. :-)

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  2. Oy - while I wholeheartedly approve of *informed* DIY experiments, the crayon lipstick thing made my face twitch in particular. The post I read about it (I genuinely forget where) cited Crayola crayons as a good base for lipstick because 'they make it so that a toddler can eat a whole box and be fine'. This is patently untrue. If nothing else, if you eat a box of crayons I'd expect you to get a nasty intestinal blockage at the very least, but that's beside the point. I actually emailed Crayola about the safety of their crayons for cosmetic purposes, and their response was:

    'Our goal at Crayola is to provide safe, kid-friendly products and at the same time, guarantee their high quality. Since safety is a priority for us, we are always concerned when a product is being intentionally misused by consumers. Unfortunately, these types of videos have become widespread in recent years across the Internet, and are obviously not endorsed by Crayola.'

    So there you have it, I guess? I suppose the lukewarm nature of the response could serve as proof that the practice is unlikely to kill anyone, but they're certainly distancing themselves, which suggests that it might still give you dermatitis or some other non-fatal thing. But I speculate.

    I'm really at a loss to explain the behaviour of people who will assume that one company (a cosmetic one with teams of scientists, overseen by regulatory agencies, with sterile manufactring facilities) is after their painful demise at the hands of 'chemicals' (*facepalm*), while another company's products (also made of chemicals, by the way, and not intended for cosmetic use) are naturally safe for *any* purpose because...reasons?

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  3. Excellent write-up. I often see people cite color choice as the reason they risk crayons. No one should. OCC, PBLC, KVD, lip safe loose pigments, and many more offer interesting colors and the ability to create more with researched safety.

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  4. I had always assumed that the crayon lipstick thing was just one of those things people experimented with for laughs on a rainy day... until I joined Pinterest, that is. I can't believe that people would actually think crayons are a "safer" alternative to regular lipstick - what planet are we on here?

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  5. I actually HAVE made crayon lipstick (more to try out custom colors than for the formula), and the formula didn't seem worth the effort. It was fun just to have a craft night.

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    1. I was just thinking that it seems like it'd be fun, but not practical.

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  6. Excellent!
    Once I asked my dermatologist to recommend some at-home remedies for acne. She said:
    "There are millions of products out there in every price range designed specifically for that purpose. Why the hell do you need to go mixing crap and making your own? Bad idea." So now I don't put toothpaste on my face.

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  7. Robyn, this post reminded me -- are you going to review any of the NYX Macaron lipsticks?

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    1. Yes, I want to see how you wear them too. I bought six and I need ideas!

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  8. I didn't realize people were doing this as a real thing. I thought this was just to test out colors for fun and on the cheap. Thanks for covering this.

    Another thing I'm interested in that I see suggested all the time is adding eye drops to dried-up mascara. The Beauty Department recently published the suggestion, though it's been making the rounds for some time. It seems like a bad, bacteria-breeding idea to me, even as someone who keeps mascaras way past the suggested date.

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  9. I made them once because it was so exciting to be able to concoct your own colors for very cheap. I don't think they are safer than lipsticks but I don't think they are necessarily harmful either. SOME lipstick is ingested when you wear it but not enough to be a concern, it is really the idea of it being on your skin for long periods that is questionable. But I don't think it is an issue unless you have an allergy. All in all they aren't something I would wear often but for fun and to experiment i like them. I'm glad you wrote about them, although I thought for sure you already had!

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