Lipstick… A star among make-up stars!

An iconic accessory in the make-up routine, and a spearhead of any cosmetic line, lipstick as we know it, appeared in the 1920s. Our great-grandmothers – but also gentlemen at the Court – also used to put “red’ to their lips, by picking with their finger or a brush some coloured ointment from a jar.
Lipstick will be the topic next February 9, from 03:30 pm to 04:00 pm of the round table animated by Gérald Martines, founder of the marketing / innovation consulting firm IN•SIGNS, with the participation of Philippe Pavageau, CEO, Alkos Group; Sonia Cerato, Category Manager Makeup Division, Quadpack and Sabine Oelschlegel, VP Marketing and R&D, Weckerle.

The democratization of modern lipstick really started in the 40s with Max Factor, a Hollywood Makeup Artist of the 20s and 30s.

Max Factor also invented the ‘Kissing Machine’ to test and improve the performance of its formulas. This device, which irresistibly evokes the organ from a retro-science fiction humanoid robot, nevertheless enabled to make huge strides in the burgeoning art of formulating the ‘grape’, this bullet-shaped small piece of soft material which became so hugely popular.

Hence, formulas used at first for modern lipsticks, consisting mainly of wax and pigments, were packaged in a small metal tube with a helical mechanism enabling to motion the grape in and out.
This type of mechanism is in fact the one, which is still widely used nowadays: its realization has meanwhile benefited from progress offered by plastic injection technologies, enabling to reduce production costs and to make therefore lipstick available to a greater number of beautistas.

This core innovation still remains the most widely used packaging for “classic” formulas.

But gradually, brands improved this indispensable accessory by developing so-called “multifunctional” formulas: to mere colouring functions were added moisturising agents, or anti- UVs (due to the absence of melanin, the skin of lips is particularly sensitive) and then “long hold” agents: times are gone when ladies could be traced thanks to carmine lipstick marks left on the rim of a glass, the filter of a cigarette or the cheek of a man!

Each of these advances made in the use of lipstick, achieved by modifying the formulation, was accompanied by a reduction in the structural rigidity of the grape. The addition of active ingredients, solvents, the search for smoother textures, etc. resulted in softer or more volatile formulas and packagings that had to adapt.

The 2000s, the turning point!

In the 2000s a second major innovation emerged with ‘slim packs’: thinner and longer than traditional packs, they feature two advantages. Their ‘guided’ mechanism principle allows to better supports smooth formulas, which are therefore less likely to deform or break during application. The small bevelled end which is one of their specificities allows only using a small quantity of product while keeping an ergonomic application gesture. Moreover, their constitution allows them to be waterproof and to protect volatile formulas from drying.
These packs are a new addition to the range of technologies available to brands.

Of course the ongoing search for the ‘best product ever’ has continued to nurture innovations in formulas, which on their side have continued to expand to offer either, more comfort and gloss – or like more recently velvety matt shades… and have become smoother and delicate. Packaging manufacturers have followed suit by proposing mechanisms that could be conditioned by pouring ultra-soft formulas directly in the pack, the only way to handle them, the pack becoming as a matter of fact the “mould” itself of the formula – third major innovation!

From tubes to pencils…

Changing fashions, an accelerating pace of life, the attraction of younger generations for novelty, immediacy, simplicity and nomadism have resulted in the emergence of a new gesture, offered by pencils. Meanwhile pencils had become ubiquitous in all other make-up applications, resulting (again) in a new pack format: the Jumbo Stick, popularized by Clinique with its Chubby Sticks. Here, innovation is not technological, and the formula and the principle of the pack are not revolutionary either, what changed is the use and the gesture thus requiring a new structure for the mechanism, in between conventional mechanisms and the first guided mechanisms – fourth major innovation.

And there is certainly more to come, brands and manufacturers surely have quite a few surprises up their sleeves for us, like these grapes which are no longer round – why should we limit ourselves to a cylinder shape when the grape no longer rotates in the tube but slides in it? Especially when some “drop-shaped” grapes allow a more precise application. Similarly why should the user need to rotate the mechanism? Why not just slide the grape out of the tube like Guerlain and its Rouge Automatique, or with a click, as proposes Saint Laurent with its popular pen, ‘Touche Eclat’?

Indeed many more surprises are due to emerge in the next coming years!