Why Does Liquid Lipstick Get Dry and Uncomfortable, No Matter What Brand You Try? The Science and Chemistry Behind Matte Liquid Lipstick

Heyyyy Beauties

So in case you’re not aware or are new to my blog, I have started including chemical examinations of products in my review posts in which I go into the formula and individual ingredients in the formula. I also do physical lasting power/wear tests of products to let you know how the product lasts and wears throughout the day.

I have been delving right into the science and chemistry of cosmetics, and I have to say I am hooked already and do plan to go into this field (I am already in a degree of biomedical science which is medical research so when I get into postgraduate study and become a PhD student I will most likely study something to do with cosmetics and the skin).


Today I am going to be talking about Liquid Lipstick’s, how they are made and why each and every brand will end up the same way after a few hours- dry and uncomfortable- no matter how much you prep and prime. No amount of prep and priming can take away the chemicals in the product and their effects. Of course, it does help to have fully exfoliated and prepped lips but it is not going to be a miracle.

So, why do all Liquid Lipsticks end up dry and uncomfortable?


The drying effect comes down mostly to one chemical, Isododecane. ALL Matte Liquid Lipstick’s by ALL brands (brand formula comparison tables below) have the chemical Isododecane as the first or second chemical- which is the chemical that is present in the highest concentration in the formula (Note: there are other chemicals that work on the same mechanism as Isododecane, so you might find another drying and waterproof agent as the first chemical in some formulas but Isododecane is the most popular and commonly used ingredient, as you will see in my formula comparison tables at the end).  Isododecane is added to the very start of matte liquid lipstick formulas because it creates a waterproof barrier- this means that one of its chemical characteristics is to build a waterproof layer on the skin. This is the exact mechanism liquid lipstick work on, creating a waterproof barrier that prevents transfer and increases the lasting power of the product on the lips.


However, this isn’t necessarily a good thing and creating a waterproof barrier is actually a bad characteristic of Isododecane because creating a waterproof barrier dries the skin/lips by preventing water from penetrating the lips (“moisturize” just means preventing water loss, water is what moisture’s the skin). The Cosmetic Analysis Database ranks Isododecane as a ‘Not Recommended/Bad’ chemical to use because it has more adverse effects than benefits (table below). Specifically, Isododecane has the following characteristics;

Bad Characteristics of Isododecane (8)

Builds a Waterproof Barrier, Promotes Comedone Construction, leads to Heat Build Up, Dries the Skin, Prevents the Skin from Breathing, Promotes Wrinkle Construction, has an Occlusive Effect, Can Accumulate in the Liver, Kidneys and Lymph Nodes

Average Characteristics of Isododecane (4)

Has no Skin Irritation, dissolves other Substances, is not suitable for natural cosmetics, does not support skin function

Good Characteristics of Isododecane (1)

Softens and Smooths the Skin

Picture showing the bad characteristics of Isododecane, the average characteristics and the single ‘Good’ characteristic. Notice how at the top it is rated by the database as a ‘Bad’ chemical to use.

As you can see, there are more bad characteristics than good characteristics. Additionally, the good characteristic of Isododecane– Softening and Smoothing the Skin- is drowned out by the bad characteristics, so it really does not soften or smooth the skin at all.

Chemists add a lot of emollient, skin conditioning and moisturizing chemicals to formulas mostly to attempt to combat the drying effect of Isododecane but as I said, Isododecane and other drying chemicals are present in the highest concentration so it is hard to combat its drying effects with moisturizing chemicals, and it coats the lips in a waterproof barrier which prevents moisture from soaking into the lips. This is how there is variation with liquid lipsticks, one formula might be slightly better than another one but there is always going to be a drying effect.


Some Liquid Lipstick Brand Formula Comparisons

I am going to show you some Liquid Lipstick Formula Comparisons between different brands so that you can see that Isododecane is always the first chemical in every Matte Liquid Lipstick formula. As I have mentioned, Isododecane coats the lips in a waterproof barrier which is the mechanism all Matte Liquid Lipsticks work on. Again, some other chemicals do this and are used but not many brands at all use anything other than Isododecane and when they do  use other chemicals first, the product is probably not completely matte.

Notice how Isododecane is the first chemical in all liquid lipstick formulas
Again, note how Isododecane is the first chemical in every Matte Liquid Lipstick Formula
Another comparison table with Isododecane as the first chemical

Lip-gloss vs Matte Liquid Lipstick Formula Comparisons

To further show you that Isododecane is the chemical that Liquid Lipstick’s work on, here are some lip gloss vs Liquid Lipstick formula comparisons. Note how Isododecane is not the first chemical in lip gloss formula because lip glosses do not need to have a waterproof barrier and are not smudge proof.

Some Lipgloss vs Matte Liquid Lipstick Formula Comparisons. Note how Isododecane is not the first chemical in Lip Gloss formulas
Another Lipgloss vs Matte Liquid Lipstick Formula Comparison, showing that Isododecane is not the first chemical in Lip Glosses because they do not require a waterproof barrier and are not smudge proof.



Until Isododecane and other drying/waterproof chemicals are replaced with another chemical that can build a waterproof layer without drying out the lips, liquid lipstick’s will always end up dry on the lips after a while.. It might sound easy to just find another chemical,  but it is actually very hard to find one that will create the waterproof barrier needed for liquid lipsticks that also doesn’t completely dry the lips out. If Isododecane wasn’t present as one of the very first chemicals in liquid lipstick, it wouldn’t have a transfer proof finish and wouldn’t stain the lips, so you can see how it will be a long process in finding a substitute chemical that works the same.

I am going to continue to do my liquid lipstick posts and fully explain each formula. I will also compare different formulas by different brands to try and figure out who has the best formula and what one if the most comfortable to wear.

I hope you guys found this post interesting/helpful! Thank’s for reading babes

 Loveeeeeeee Always,



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