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Is Lipgloss Harmless? A Homemade Recipe

I wear a lot of lip gloss; I always have since I was 15. I never really questioned if it was natural or healthy to have a thick smear of petroleum on my lips for about 12 hours out of the day for years on end. Not until recently. Not until my daughter wanted to use it.

It’s amazing how much children can make you grow as a person; from questioning old habits to enlightening ideas on forgiveness. But that’s a completely different post.  

Heavy Metals and Contaminants

When you review a list of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic or lead in your mind you might not think about them being an ingredient in your beauty products.  

However, a recent study completed by our northern neighbor, Canada, found that lead was detect in 96% percent of the products they tested – 20% had arsenic, and 51% had cadmium.[1] [2] In one lip gloss there was more then 10 times higher then what was set as the limit for contaminants.

A German consumers magazine tested several popular brands of lip gloss and found several “poisonous substances” that according to the scientists can seriously affect and harm liver, kidneys and nodes if they arrive in a human body and remain there too long. These substances can even cause skin reactions and asthma.
It has been said that “lip gloss could be the possible cause of perhaps 90% of the cases of skin cancer of the lips diagnosed each year.”[3]

If you had the choice of knowing whether you are putting arsenic or lead on your lips on a daily basis, I’m sure you would – but this is undisclosed and beauty companies have no incentive to test for or release information delcaring that their products contain dangerous ingredients.[4]  

So, instead let’s focus on what is disclosed and remember that lip gloss is easily disgested. By that I don’t mean it is easy on the stomach, but rather it is placed on the lips and is easily consumed by drinking and eating throughout the day.

Breakdown of Common Ingredients

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is a by-product of the mechanical set-up used on oil rigs. Did you know that in the European Union petroleum jelly is banned unless it is in its pure state. In the US, no requirement for refinement applies to petroleum in personal care products. [5]

PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are common contaminants in petrolatum, also called petroleum jelly and sold under well-known brand names like Vaseline. Petrolatum is found in one of every 14 products on the market (7.1 percent of the products assessed by EWG), including 15 percent of all lipstick and 40 percent of al baby lotions and oils. [6]

Studies linking the petrolatum impurity PAHs to breast cancer is a Columbia University study in which researchers found that the breast tissue of women with breast cancer was 2.6 times more likely to contain elevated levels of PAHs bound to DNA. [6]

Petroleum is listed as a probable human carcinogen in the European Union's Dangerous Substances Directive (UNECE 2004). Environmental Working Group. [6]


Artificial fragrances can contain solvents, aldehyes and benzene derivatives which have been linked to birth defects and cancer. No agency regulates the fragrance industry. [7]

Methyl Paraben

Methyl Paraben is linked to cancer, allergies, immunotoxicity and is restricted in US, Japan, European Countries and Canada. Many children’s lip gloss is made in China. There are emerging concerns over neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption. [7]


Exposure to proplyparaben can cause cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity. [7]


Research has shown this ingredient to damage the body's ability to defend itself against disease and repair tissue, to cause swelling and itching in some cases, as well as being a possible cancer hazard.[3] 

A picture of ingredients on my dinner table
My Homemade Lip Gloss Recipe

If you are interested in checking out your current bath and beauty products check out this helpful website: cosmeticsdatabase dot com.

I decided to make my own lip gloss since I tried to kick the habit and was unable to do so after so many years. It is a super easy recipe and I encourage you to try it. I even have used it as a base for a homemade Baby Vicks rub.

Alba Un-Petroleum
Vegetable Glycerine
Organic Coconut Oil
Vitamin E Oil
Tea Tree Oil
Peppermint Oil

Alba Un-petroleum is an awesome base to use for lip gloss. I spent nearly 2 weeks attempting to track down beeswax to use as a base but found this much readily available. (I may eventually experiment with beeswax is it is a bit more natural, but I did not for this batch).

homemade mint lip gloss

I just put a dollop of alba un-petro in my jar, added a small glob of veggie glycerine (helps tremendously with hydration), then put some coconut oil in. It’s not very scientific but that’s what I like about it – I really don’t enjoy measuring things out. Since the coconut oil is semi-solid until heated up, once I put it in the jar I breathed heavy on it like you would do if you were attempting to heat your hands up in the wintertime outside. It melts in no problem
I added a few drops of vitamin E and tea tree oil (TTO has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungus properties). Then I put about 10 drops of peppermint oil in. I stirred it up with the opposite end of a spoon (which my husband yelled at me for) and there you have it!  


1 Good & Well NYC. The most toxic cosmetic? Traditional lip glosses, finds study. May 17, 2011

2 Postmedia News. Arsenic, lead and mercury discovered in Canadian cosmetics: Study. National Post. May 16, 2011.

3 Dahl, Melissa. Not Just Lip Service: Gloss Can Invite Skin Cancer. MSNBC.
Apr 30, 2008.

4 Robert, Roger. Is Lip-Gloss Dangerous. Beyond Jane. Aug 17, 2006.

5 David, Diana. Three Beauty Products You Should Avoid. Apr 2010.

6 Huget, Jennifer. Purely Cosmetic?. Environmental Working Group via The Washington Post. Jun 21 2004

7 Toxic ingredients in child’s lip gloss. Oct 26 2009.


  1. Where did you get the cute container for your lip gloss? Was is reused from something else? All I have is tin containers, but they're not nearly as fun.

  2. I actually got a two pack of these small pink containers at Walmart, in the section where they sell their travel sized mechandise. I think they offer other colors too!

    I was going to buy tin containers until I saw these : )

  3. Jennifer1/20/2012

    Thank you for this!! I've been buying pricey natural lip balm, but I can't afford it now that I'm a full-time mom. :-) I SO appreciate your blog!

  4. Can you put color in it?

    1. absolutely - just take your favorate lip stick and melt a small amount...then add to gloss!


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