It seems every time I open up my email, there’s a new promotional message about lipsticks. New formulas or colors get released with tremendous frequency, and sales happen frequently in between. Between all the promotions I read about and see and all the different claims, I have enough lipsticks (stains, pencils, crayons, and tints) that I could easily wear a new one each day for at least five months- and yes, that’s counting only full-size or mini “deluxe sample” size (not the single use foil packets or the samples I get from So Choix).
Lipsticks seem so easily justifiable. Different formulas, mediums, finishes, colors, color undertones– there are just so many options that it’s easy to think “I don’t have something exactly like this!”
And you fall into the rabbit hole.
This is how we end up with so many lipsticks that we run out of storage and forget about our old “favorite” for three months at a time.
I think the question “How much do we need” can be answered in two ways: first, how much can we actually use up to reduce all waste, and second, how many different colors or formulas can meet our variety needs. I’ll answer this question in both ways, but today, let’s focus just on one.
So, how much lipstick can we actually use up?
Realistically, we know we can’t use up the amount of lipstick we purchase. Brightest Bulb in the Box did a good experiment about how long a tube of lipstick can last. She found that for her, an application of lipstick was about 0.008g of product. Most of my full-size lipsticks are around 3.4g, so using that as an “average,” one tube of full-size lipstick would have about 425 applications. If I apply lipstick four times a day (morning, mid-morning, after lunch, and mid-afternoon), that’s 106 days of lipstick. One hundred and 6. And honestly? I don’t apply lipstick 4 times a day. I just don’t have the time to do so when I’m at work, and when I’m at home, I may only need to apply once or twice when I get ready to go out.
Minis obviously don’t have quite as many days in them- if we go with a mini amount of around 1.2g (just picked one of mine up at random), then there would be about 150 applications, and at 4 applications/day, it would last about a 37 days.
Now, let’s consider how long lipsticks actually last- as in, how long you can hold onto them without having them start to “turn” or become unsafe to use. Different lipsticks are safe for different lengths of time, and while some people claim certain lipsticks go bad after only a few months, others have had lipsticks for a decade before tossing. I just checked many of mine, and they had the “open container” ratings for 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months, with the bulb being 12 months. Let’s say, just for the sake of you being a clean person who does sanitize their products every once in a while, you’re able to keep your lipsticks for two years. How many lipsticks can you actually use up?
Feel free to do the math on your own, but I figured for 730 days, at 0.008 grams/application and 4 applications a day, you can use up 23.4 grams of lipstick, which is about 6.87 full tubes of lipstick. Obviously it’s difficult to get that last bit, so let’s round that up to 7 lipsticks, if you wear them every day and re-apply three times.
I have no real desire to limit myself to just 7- so let’s look at a collection of minis. How many mini tubes could you get through in two years? 23.4 grams, at 1.2 grams per mini, is 19.5 mini tubes- rounded up to 20.
So there you have it- if you just want to focus on minimizing waste, 7 full-size or 20 mini-sized lipsticks ought to suffice it…. But my focus isn’t just on minimizing waste- so in the follow-up post, I’ll be talking about how many lipsticks we need based on variety purposes.