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Lip oils: a delivery platform to watch in 2015

Lip oils: a delivery platform to watch in 2015
Link: Lip oils: a delivery platform to watch in 2015 | PCM
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Lip oil is a novel delivery platform designed to provide nourishment and colour to the lips. The trend was sparked with the launch of Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil1 which the brand describes as: “a lip care treatment infused with all the power of plant oils to nourish and enhance your lips’ natural beauty.” This launch was followed with Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) introducing Volupte Tint-in-Oil2 which YSL describes as a: “revolutionary lip color with a lip tint suspended in a deep conditioning oil.”

Both of the above key launches major on containing vegetal oils, and make claims around their conditioning, nourishing and softening attributes. We have seen a trend for vegetal oil-based products for face and body care recently, so it is no surprise to see such oil formulas finding a novel home in colour cosmetics. In fact in the UK for instance the market for face oils increased from £3.2 million in 2013 to £3.9 million in 20143 accordingly to NPD Group,4 representing a 23% year-on-year growth.

Lip oil applicators

The lip oils we evaluated had quite large, spongy paddle applicators. This allows the product to either be dabbed onto the lips or applied for full-coverage gloss. The process of dipping the applicator in the oil and then dabbing or spreading onto the lips may however be seen by some consumers as a step backwards in times where a lot of innovative (and perhaps more ‘handbag-friendly’) pen-type packaging formats for lip products are available.

In-use experience

There is only one way to find out what the products are like to use, and that is to go ahead and try them out. As any formulator will tell you, there is no room to be shy of applying male or female targeted products in this game (although it can lead to strange looks when leaving the office with glossy lips or marked squares of various heavily-pigmented products along each arm!). The two lip oil products we evaluated were relatively viscous and somewhat gel-like. Upon application, the products felt quite sticky and immediately gave confidence of longevity. If the target customer is seeking gloss they will be satisfied, if they are not seeking gloss then they may not be so pleased.

Initially after application the lips retained the high gloss appearance but this did reduce after 30 minutes or so. Of some surprise was how moisturised the lips felt even 1-2 hours after application given the products did not contain the usual heavy waxes found in lip balms. In all we were very impressed with the longevity.

Formulation insights

The two pigmented lip oil products we evaluated were structured using different viscous oil ingredients. The Clarins product had polylglyceryl-2 Isostearate/dimer dilinoleate copolymer as the first entry on its ingredient list. This vegetable-origin transparent high viscosity oil provides high gloss and is purported to offer strong water-holding capacity. A commercially available source of this ingredient is Hailucent ISDA from Kokyu Alcohol Kogyo.5 The YSL product had polybutene as the first entry on its ingredient list. Polybutene is a light coloured sticky oil that is also high in gloss. Various sources of polybutene are available, including blends with hydrogenated polyisobutene, which also features in the YSL product. A commercially available example of such a blend is Dedraflow DIM from The Innovation Company.6

Both products contained supportive rheology-modifying oils/esters to achieve the luxurious application, spread and glossing properties. While each product contained several different such oils/esters, the two featuring most prominently in the Clarins and YSL products were dilinoleic acid/propanediol copolymer and diisostearyl malate respectively. Dilinoleic acid/propanediol copolymer is a vegetal-derived polyester designed to be highly substantive and glossy, with an example of a commercially available source being Pelemol P3D from Phoenix Chemical.7 Diisostearyl malate is a rich emollient with excellent spreading and coating attributes, with an example of a commercially available source being Schercemol DISM Ester from Lubrizol.8

The formulations were both loaded with several different vegetal oils, and indeed the bulk of the marketing messages and wording around nourishment, softening, richness were directly associated with oils including jojoba, apricot kernel and raspberry.

Added value opportunities with active ingredients

A clear trend in the marketplace at the moment is the increasing use of active ingredients across all of colour cosmetics, and lip oil is certainly a format that could benefit through this approach. There are several oil-based active ingredients with strong efficacy data that would be worth consideration in such formulations. A selection of active ingredients we have recently reviewed includes:

Dictyopertis Oil from Codif,9 which is said to activate the mechanisms of lipidic nutrition and provide a plumping effect to the lips. It stimulates synthesis of adiponutrin and favours storage of triglycerides by adipocytes for a nourishing action. Codif also offers Hydrasalinol, which stimulates the synthesis of AQP8 and AQP3, involved in urea and water storage in the epidermis. It reinforces epidermal lipid synthesis to improve skin cohesion and nutrition.

Juvinity from Sederma10 is geranylgeranyl propanol in an oil-soluble ingredient. It is said to offer cell protecting efficacy that delays metabolic and nucleus senescence, leading to reduced signs of ageing. It protects cells from oxidative damage and ensures optimal mitochondrial activity. With lips prone to wrinkling, such anti-ageing efficacy from an oil-based ingredient provides a good claims platform.


We hear the word ‘innovation’ so often in relation to new product launches, it is understandable to be sceptical in believing new formats really are something different. After reviewing the new lip oils that have entered the marketplace, it is refreshing to say the positivity surrounding these new formats is justified. Lip oils open new opportunities and we believe are likely to be the basis of an expanding trend beyond 2015. From a formulation perspective the trend-driving products we evaluated have been very carefully constructed to give their excellent aesthetics and attributes, and with a cosmetic ingredient marketplace full of novel and exciting oil-based thickeners, rheology modifiers and active ingredients, there are many opportunities to take lip oils forward and create novel concepts and marketing angles.


  3. Telegraph Newspaper article
  4. NPD Group
  5. Kokyu Alcohol Kogyo Co Ltd
  6. The Innovation Company
  7. Phoenix Chemical Inc
  8. Lubrizol
  9. Codif
  10. Sederma

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