12-hour Lipstick

Keep your lipstick on your lips, not on the ones you love. See our makeup tips pictures.
© iStockphoto.com/eaniton

Many women feel naked without lipstick and wouldn't think of leaving the house without it. However, it's a busy world, and most women have a to-do list a mile long. A jam-packed schedule doesn't leave time for frequent pit stops to reapply lipstick. Women wanted to wake up, put their face on and have it stay there, no matter how much talking, eating, drinking or kissing they did.

And of course, there are men that like the made-up look as well; in fact, one of the first long-lasting lipstick ads claimed to be for men only. In 1956, Coty produced an ad that bemoaned how fetching a woman could look at dinner, only to look "washed-out" and "pale" when she woke the next morning [source: Green]. Clearly, the answer to such a conundrum was a lipstick that would be there morning, noon and night -- a lipstick that would last at least 12 hours.

Coty's long-lasting lipstick is still on the market today, along with several other products that promise to last all day long. In an interview with CBS, Glamour magazine beauty editor Andrea Pomerantz likened these lipsticks to tampons, the birth control pill and the dishwasher in terms of the revolutionary amount of time they save a woman [source: Neal]. Not only do women save time, they're also spared embarrassing situations; a 1996 survey found that 87 percent of American women had left traces of lipstick in unwanted places [source: Johnson]. The only downside? It may be harder to catch a cheating partner; after all, lipstick on the collar is no longer a tip-off.

But rather than focusing on the negative implications of these 12-hour lipsticks, let's investigate how they work. Just how do they last so long?




Long-lasting Lipsticks

Hazel Bishop uses her own lipstick in 1951.
Hazel Bishop uses her own lipstick in 1951.

The original fairy godmother of long-lasting lipstick is Hazel Bishop. In the 1940s, Bishop was working as a chemist by day, perfecting high-altitude airplane fuels. By night, though, Bishop was a makeup mad scientist. Using what she knew about chemistry, in combination with what she knew about women, Bishop spent hours in her mother's kitchen mixing up various lipstick recipes. In 1950, the fruits of her labor went on sale for $1 a tube -- she had invented the first "kissproof lipstick," a product that would stay put no matter how many kisses given, cigarettes smoked or glasses of wine consumed. The product was loaded with pigments called bromo acids that stained the lips.

Bishop's creation was a runaway hit, but so much pigment can dry out the lips. Twelve-hour lipsticks have less oil than other lipsticks, as that oil is what causes the dreaded smearing. Since Bishop's day, other scientists have taken up the task of developing day-long lipsticks that stay put through a number of kisses, all while leaving lips kissable. Some 12-hour lipsticks come packed with bromo acids that contain strong pigments, paired with hydrating ingredients. Others operate on a time-release principle, and factors like heat or dryness cause the product to pump out an additional release of color [source: Berg].

Procter & Gamble has developed a battery of "torture tests" to evaluate the quality of long-lasting lipticks; some of these tests include eating spaghetti, kickboxing and giving birth [source: Nelson]. This testing led to the development of PermaTone, which combined pigments and polymers to create a type of flexible mesh on the lips [sources: Neal, Nelson]. Procter & Gamble scientists fine-tuned Permatone with the CoverGirl Outlast lipstick. Rather than applying the mesh and risking dryness, CoverGirl Outlast is applied in two stages. First, a layer of color is applied, which stains the lips. Throughout the day, a gloss is applied over the stain to maintain moisture.

If you're a lipstick pro, then wearing a 12-hour lipstick can save time and money (though long-lasting lipsticks cost more up front, replacements are needed much less frequently). Novices, though, should beware: If you make a mistake in your initial application of the stain, you'll be reaching for makeup remover or petroleum jelly to fix the error, rather than a simple sheet of bathroom tissue.

Related Articles


  • Berg, Rona. "Beauty: Lips that Linger." New York Times. Aug. 29, 1993. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/magazine/beauty-lips-that-linger.html
  • Green, Penelope. "Beauty: Lip Reading." New York Times. Aug. 5, 1990. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/05/magazine/beauty-lip-reading.html
  • Johnson, Rita. "What's That Stuff: Lipstick." Chemical & Engineering News. July 12, 1999. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/stuff/7728scit2.html
  • Kay, Gwen. "Hazel Bishop." Chemical Heritage. Summer 2000. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://www.chemheritage.org/women_chemistry/style/bishop.html
  • "Kiss Dryness Good-Bye." Shape. October 2009.
  • "Lasting Legacy." People. Jan. 1, 1999.
  • Neal, Rome. "Long-Lasting Lipsticks." CBS. March 29, 2004. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/29/earlyshow/living/beauty/main609240.shtml
  • Nelson, Emily. "Stuck on You: P&G's New Outlast Lipstick is Nothing to Pout About." Wall Street Journal. May 9, 2002.
  • Pallington, Jessica. "Lipstick." Macmillan. 1998. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=OZ2afobXdLIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  • Tannen, Mary. "Hazel Bishop, 92, an Innovator Who Made Lipstick Kissproof." New York Times. Dec. 10, 1998. (Nov. 16, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/10/nyregion/hazel-bishop-92-an-innovator-who-made-lipstick-kissproof.html