LipSense Ingredients – Decoded

My friend is a distributor of SeneGence products and she occasionally receives questions about LipSense ingredients. It is a more unusual formula, so I can appreciate the concern. I have a professional background in hazardous materials, so she asked me to have a crack at explaining the safety of cosmetics. 

As I mentioned, my friend Lazy Betty is an independent LipSense distributor and she’d be more than willing to help you with all your LipSense, lip care and other skincare needs.  She paid me in Starbucks to write this post, a whopping $3.59 for a tall Cold Brew with Sweet Cream.  My fave, I’ll do anything for a Cold Brew with Sweet Cream. LipSense is great by the way, it sticks to your lips until you want to take it off – so get in touch with Lazy Betty if you haven’t already and buy yourself some LipSense.

Cosmetic Ingredient Safety

When I first started this blog, I had two themes I was going for: nail polish and beauty science. I wanted my blog to be a resource for people who were concerned about the ingredients in their cosmetics. I wrote a few posts. One about nail polish ingredient disclosureone busting mythsone about lead in home-made lipstick and one about nail salon smells. I’ve got eight older posts all together in my Geekery category if you want read them. I go way, way, way into the weeds with regulations in these posts. But I stopped writing them. You know why? Because cosmetics are safe and there’s no story there. At all. The toxicity concern in cosmetics is so infinitesimally nonexistent, it was pointless to spend the leisurely hours of my life berating the point.

I don’t know what a clean product is, or a dirty one. Or whatever non-sense Environmental Working Group is spewing these days. All I know is that LipSense by Senegence is perfectly safe for you to wear and you aren’t coming down with the cancers of the lips for wearing it.

Note: this article is not about vegan or animal cruelty considerations

If you’re concerned about products, please, please don’t depend on Skin Deep or EWG. Read the actual toxicology reports from CIR, the CDCPubMed or some other science-based informational body.  I suppose Skin Deep can be a good starting point, but Truth in Aging, while not an impeccable source, at least has a far less biased, scaremongering tinge to their ingredient safety database.  Also, the best beauty science blog that has ever been created is The Beauty Brains.

It’s All Gonna Be Okay

Let’s look at these harmless, non-toxic ingredients in LipSense so we can all get some sleep tonight.

LipSense might not work for everyone because there are some drying and possibly irritating ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin, but it’s NOT dangerous to your health, not even a little bit. It’s safe and fine to use everyday, all day. And if you don’t experience any drying effects from it then you’re doubly good. If anything, there are some extra herbal extracts that don’t have a lot of research associated with them that may lead to irritation issues or allergies.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a cosmetic scientist mixologist type of person, I just have a strong professional background in hazardous materials and occupational exposure concerns.

LipSense Ingredients Break Down

Here are the ingredients listed in the same order as they are in the official list – which means the highest percentage ingredients are first, rolling down to the ones that may be in their in teensy, tiny, barely detectable levels:

Alcohol Denat (alcohol)zero toxicity if applied topically, especially in minuscule amounts. May cause or promote dryness for some people; if you’ve ever drank a beer in your life, you’ve exposed yourself to a life time of LipSense use. This is ethanol tainted with something that tastes terrible to stop people from drinking it. Usually this extra substance is methanol, which is incredibly toxic and dangerous when ingested in appreciable amounts (say, a cup full).  In cosmetics, the methanol is used in very, very small amounts that immediately evaporates from your lips.  Topical application of methanol (or ethanol) in such small amounts is definitely not going to affect your overall health (and its not a carcinogen), but it may cause localized drying effects where you applied the product.

Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer – inert and non-toxic; I believe this is the waterproofing-never leave your lips ingredient that separates it from the regular lipstick pack but I don’t really know

Isostearyl Alcohol – an emulsifier – makes it a nice consistency for us to slather on our lips. Inert and non-toxic; it might cause skin irritation

Silica – inert thikening agent

PPG-20 Methly Glucose Ether – inert, standard, moisturizing agent; this is Propylene Glycol (PPG) which is a food safe ingredient in a lot of other stuff you’ve eaten in your life. The world is full of it and it is very common product; it does have a low freezing point so it’s used as a non-toxic alternative to standard antifreeze (ethylene glycol); I’ll dare you to a drinking contest of this stuff

Parfum – fragrance

Hydroxypropylcellulose – more food grade propylene glycol; inert binding agent

Butylene Glycol – another food safe agent very similar to propylene glycol

Aqua – accelerates corrosion and can cause suffocation, also known as dihydrogen monoxide

Isodonis Japonicus Leaf/Stalk Extract – herbal moisturizer, honestly I couldn’t find information, it’s a flowering plant from China

St Johns Wort Extract – herbal anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent, might cause skin irritation; usually people eat for its a anti-depression and anti-anxiety properties; there’s a gigantically long list of things St Johns Wort is supposed to cure as an “all natural” remedy; inert and non-toxic as far as this evaluation is concerned

Tree Peony Extract – more herbal stuff that has flaky foundation in science, but inert and non-toxic as far as this evaluation is concerned

Linden Extract – even more herbal stuff that has flaky foundation in science, but inert and non-toxic as far as this evaluation is concerned

Citronellol – basically citronella; scent; also food safe; may cause skin sensitivity

Limonene – basically citrus; scent; also food safe; may cause skin sensitivity

Colorants – varies depending on the product; colorants are heavily regulated by FDA you can either use them or you can’t, not much to worry about there

So There You Have It

Do we all feel a little better now? Have I helped you understand the LipSense ingredients? If you want to try LipSense, be sure to get in touch with Lazy Betty, she’ll set you up with whatever you need. If you like nail polish, nail art and nail care I hope you stick around my blog to see the pretty photos I post.

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  • Awesome post. Thank you for taking the time to break this all down!

  • Mindy

    So many things to scream about in this article. For one, Alcohol Denat is NOT the same as alcohol that you drink. In it’s most basic definition: Denatured alcohol, also called methylated spirits or denatured rectified spirit, is ethanol that has additives to make it poisonous, bad tasting, foul smelling or nauseating, to discourage recreational consumption.

    • Yes you are correct. I was pushing through that one too quickly. Ethanol has same effects to the skin topically though, I’d argue.

    • Also, what else are you wanting to “scream about”? I always like to learn and see different sides to issues.

  • Mindy

    Alcohol is extremely drying to the skin. Alcohol Denat is TOXIC. If a product burns when you apply it, take that as a warning sign. Why would you promote putting this stuff DIRECTLY ON YOUR LIPS??? It is sad and sickening to see what the US allows in their products and deems to be “safe” – such as lead and other highly toxic ingredients. Please do actual research instead of blindly relying on a cosmetic company to tell you their products are safe.

    • I recognize we are on different ends of the spectrum on this and we have to agree to disagree. I will update my alcohol comments and appreciate you mentioning that for correction – that it is not drinking alcohol.

  • Michele H

    I would say that I would agree that these ingredients by themselves are not too much to worry about. But have you considered that these ingredients are in most personal care products we use every day, along with hundreds of other potentially toxic or questionable ingredients, there is no regulation, and the application of multiple questionable ingredients over and over for possibly years- may have a significant effect on our health. We are in effect the lab rats that the personal care industry has been testing on. I for one do not want to take my chances.

    • Yes I respect that theory but I’m also well aware of the massive toxins that previous generations have dealt with and how on the grand scheme of things where cosmetics rank in safety concern (way at the bottom). We are not lab rats we are exponentially safer in many ways. But yes the theory of synergistic effect of all these newer (primarily) endocrine disrupters is a concern that I don’t totally neglect to appreciate.

      PS I urge you to read up on opposing theories to the “no regulation” statement.

  • Jennifer Hammons

    Wow!! Is this a joke? Are you serious? I’m hoping so do you know much about science chemistry or biology? The skin is our largest organ. Anything you put on it can be absorbed into the bloodstream in about 26 seconds depending upon the size of the particles it can be 0-100% absorbed. I am shocked at such a lack of research and a lack of regard for health concerns. Why does the US only have 11 banded ingredients yet the entire EU has 1100? The Institute of Cancer prevention has stated quote ” the Cosmetics industry has been as reckless as the tobacco industry yet the FDA has remained silent”. The is no federal testing required for any cosmetics or personal care products allowing companies to put anything they choose into products. I don’t particularly care what the ingredients are in Lipsense my concern is your blentent disregard of health care concerns for a $4 latte.
    What is a strong professional background in hazmat? What does that mean. I have 2 degrees both in science one as a Registered nurse with focus on biological and anatomical absorption of cellular exposure.
    Is it safe of not has yet to be completely proven but so was cigarettes and asbestos 30 years ago. So if you feel okay with leading young girls and women to believe you are some type of expert and give such an outrageous concrete claim well that is on you.
    Am I saying Lisense is toxic no will I say it’s not? Absolutely not that is not for me or you to determine especially with your lack of knowledge in the scientific field.

    • Woah. Comin’ out with guns ablazin’! She took the time to go through each ingredient and did a pretty impartial review of it. If you have different information I’m sure it would be helpful, but coming here and saying, “You’re wrong” without actually providing any counter arguments is incredibly rude.

      You mention that skin absorbs molecules, depending on the size. So, if that’s your argument, can you prove that all the elements in LipSense are small enough to be absorbed?

      I’m open to hearing your information if we can separate the emotion out of it.

      • Yola Kelln

        So glad I came upon this post !
        Even ” a little bit of toxins or chemicals ” is in no way good for our body’s weather it’s what we ingest or apply to skin !
        Take sugar free gum for example most adults and children chew these days and have no clue they are poisoning them selves with aspartame daily !
        It’s all has a cumulative effect on our body and its starts to break down .

    • Hi there Jennifer. Thank you for insight on toxicology, it’s always nice to hear from others that are aware of our daily exposures. As for the FDA concerns I hope you have the time to read my 10 Myths Busted article which I’ve linked in the text of this article. It discusses some of your concerns.

      As for my experience and credentials, thanks for asking. I am currently an ESH consultant/program manager for a large agency. And directly relevant to you – previously I spent five years as the Environmental Program Manager of a large healthcare system. I’m well aware of the endless proecedures for handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste drugs, I think we disposed of somewhere around a ton a month I addition to another ton of hazardous waste from the labs. I was involved in the toxicity and exposure concerns and training the staff. This was one of the dozens of “chemical” related programs I oversaw at the hospitals and clinics.

      As for my credentials (these are certs I maintain and not an inclusive list of of relevant training which would be endless): Professional Environmental Engineer (P.E.), Asbestos Building Inspector/Project Designer, State Certified Lead Based Paint Risk Assessor, Hazardous Waste Operations Responder, Hazardous Waste Handler, DOT Haz Mat Train the Trainer. I’ll also have my Certified Hazardous Materials Manager creds within six months, I’ve just been doing some other things first. Until recently I was a certified First Receiver train the trainer for haz mat incidents.

      So yes, I have many years of direct experience and training to feel comfortable with what I wrote about in this article.

    • Yola Kelln

      Thank you Jennifer Hammons I couldn’t agree more !
      I’m also an RN and today at work was actually sampling the lipsense as an aid is a rep and said it’s ” safe” !
      I will be forwarding her some info and at least one can make an informed and educated choice right ??
      Thanks !😊
      Ps it burnt my lips also while being applied !!😳

    • Julie Biller

      Proplyne glycol is antifreeze. Just because it is added to many foods and beauty products does not make it safe. You should be avoiding those tainted foods. Glycols have warnings to keep away from dogs because it is lethal.

      Denatured alcohol is extremely toxic, especially on sensitive lips. This alcohol is a serious poison anyway you look at it. The toxins do not disappear as it dries. It gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream! This is also likely to be ingested from your lips as you eat and drink. Think about the possibility of kissing your children and passing the poison on to them. DA is an incredibly hazardous product and this lipstick maker is highly irresponsible and deceptive. Please do your research on denatured alcohol and all the other chemicals. I worry that an entire generation of users will have kidney damage and cancer in a few years.

  • Nicole Beringer

    This post is terribly misleading. My advice is to actually do your research and read the Safety Data Sheets of these ingredients. There are NO regulations to prove safety and many ingredients listed are NOT proved safe. Using terms such as ‘basically’ and ‘stuff’ simply proves your ignorance!

    • Hi there Nicole. SDSs themselves are incredibly misleading. They are for workers manufacturing the product and handling large quantities. If you read the SDS of your toothpaste you will be just as discouraged.

      Please also read my comment below where I list my experience and knowledge about these topics, this article is obviously written with a facetious tone and not from ignorance.

  • Nicole Beringer

    Propylene Glycol is actually VERY toxic 🙄

    • So is water in large quantities. For Propylene Glycol to be toxic to humans, it has to be consumed in large quantities at a fast rate. If you’re going to call something toxic, at least know how much needs to be consumed before it does any damage.

      PS Don’t drink too much water because it will kill you. #knowthefacts Water is especially toxic if inhaled.

      • Nicole Beringer

        It’s all relative. I take it you would be ingesting a decent amount of the ingredients, seeing they are on someone’s lips. Although yes, it is less harmful than ethylene glycol, it is still a known skin irritant, respiratory irritant, is recommended not to be used by pregnant women and can cause liver and kidney damage. Yes, that means larger amounts, but wouldn’t you want to avoid this regardless? If your lipstick, hair product, shampoos, makeup, deodorant, moisturiser, perfumes, foods, cleaning products, laundry powders and liquids and dishwashing liquids all contain it, there’s a fair chance it will be entering your bloodstream in higher doses than you think.

        • Bigjen76

          Anyone can withstand small doses of many things. People also forget it isn’t just a single exposure. It is repeated applications in multiple ways in multiple products over YEARS! Talc was once considered safe as was mineral oil. Both are now not considered safe. Your body stores unknown compounds. Those stores can reach toxic levels after decades of exposures! You have 2 choices: 1. slowly fill your body with toxins by paying for toxin filled products and apply them to your largest organ. Or 2. Take care of your body and Buy toxin free make up and personal care and health products.

          I’ll pass on the toxins, even in small doses! Thanks

    • I think you have that confused with ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is an FDA food-grade additive that also happens to have a super low freezing point and is effective for use as a antifreeze. It’s one of the most used compounds and is useful for a huge variety of applications. It’s in a very long list of common foods. It is non toxic.

      • Julie Biller

        FDA is not watching our for your health and safety. Their function is to protect and enrich the chemical and pharmaceutical corporations. Their approval seems to be giving you a false sense of security. Ask yourself why cancer and other diseases are so prevalent and please look into it rather than blindly trusting a government agency.

  • Mellyhoo

    I seriously question your opinion and authority on this matter. Personally, I do not put anything on my lips that I cannot eat, as women EAT most of the cosmetics they put on their lips. And EWG might be a little strict in their analysis of cosmetic ingredients, but the cosmetic industry has gone largely unregulated for so many years, it’s nice to know someone is worried about the long-term health of women. Have you ever spoken to a cancer survivor? All the ones I know are ditching chemical-laden cosmetics like last week’s leftovers.

    I am only speaking my opinion here, but in my personal experience with perioral dermatitis (lasted 6 months in 2014) that I believe I got from using a tooth paste with sls in it, I found out that women are like 5x as likely (can’t remember the exact statistic but look it up) to get perioral dermatitis as men. Coincidentally women use up to 10 times the amount of personal care and cosmetic products as men. And once I stopped putting chemicals on my face & in my mouth my terrible experience with PD ended.

    Dermatitis is the skin’s reaction to something…. doesn’t really sound like all these chemicals we put on our faces and in our hair and mouths (tooth paste & mouth wash included) are exactly “safe” does it? Just my experience, and you are welcome to keep playing with fire, but a wise person learns from another person’s mistakes. Why take the chance? To me it isn’t worth it.

  • Linda Sage

    The colorants may be the most dangerous I understand it, because it is not considered a food, the lipstick ingredients do not need to be food safe..Is this true?

  • Mimi Lips

    Thank you for a very informative article. Can you please link me to the CDC for lipsense. I couldn’t find it and my friend refuses to consider it without reading it.