5 Clean Lipsticks for Super-Sensitive Lips

From Siobhan and Alexandra: Guys, get excited: No More Dirty Looks has its first permanent outside contributor!

You all know her already. Her name is Rebecca Bailey and she’s been beasting in the comments section for ages. As such, she’s become a super important part of this community. We have a hard time imagining the site without her and we (like you) always want more, more, more. So we asked her to start a column.

Here’s why: She’s incredibly knowledgeable and is always quick to help out readers with their conundrums. She’s smart about beauty, and thoughtful about lifestyle, and her candor and insight sort of…keeps us going! When we aren’t sure if a post was too off-topic or weird, there’s Rebecca weighing in thoughtfully. Plus, she’s a product whiz and a DIY woman with so much to share. So please join us in welcoming her.

Here’s her first amazing post, featuring 5 products we have not yet tried—but now want to. She’ll be here every two weeks.

Since childhood, I’ve had sensitive skin. My lips in particular are a mess if I try to use conventional products. Do you want to hear about the pain and the oozing?  No, you don’t. I spent decades thinking I simply could not wear lip color. Enter the NMDL girls and my introduction to truly clean cosmetics. Now, anyone can be sensitive to any ingredient, even clean stuff.

But if the brands I’m about to review are OK for me they will probably be OK for 99% of people.

In addition to being sensitive, I’m super picky about smell/taste/texture, and I like my products to add something nourishing to my skin.  These don’t taste all “lipsticky,” they feel nice on, wear well, and have healthy plant oils, antioxidants and many organic ingredients.  I also like packaging to be both pretty and functional.  Check.

I love my RMS, and I own just about every lip product they make. But the brand has been discussed often here so I wanted to review a few brands that I don’t see much about. Everything I’m covering is super clean, gluten free, and mostly vegan (a couple products have beeswax).  For reference, I have a very pale olive complexion, but I think most of these colors would work for many skin tones.

  1. Real Purity Lipstick Great price ($13), gorgeous and functional packaging, and the color selection is spectacular.  My favorites this time of year are Dusty Mauve and Tangerine. Dusty Mauve is a really unique color with a bit of purple and some luminosity, and it wears longer than any lip color I’ve ever tried.  The shimmer makes it look fairly pale in bright light, but in dim light it looks darker. If, like me, you are both intrigued by and fear orange, then try Tangerine. It is shimmery sheer, subtle and lovely. Into reds? Try Regal Red (looks bright pink on me) and Clover Red (bam! red with a touch of orange). The sample program makes it fun and easy to try them out.
  2. 100% Pure Lip Glaze These are something between a gloss and a lipstick, somewhat shiny but not too much, enough color but not super saturated. Only $15 and adorably packaged, silver-bullet style. This company uses fruit pigments, so their stuff tastes and smells fruity at first, but it wears off to neutral pretty fast. They are local for me so I tried almost everything in their Oakland boutique, and bought Fig. Nice and creamy, kind of gives a little something extra to my natural lip color, with a bit of shine.
  3. 100% Pure Lip Creamsticks These are big, fat pencils with creamy color ($15).  They are dual function, liners or all-over color. I like that you can be precise in application if you keep it sharp. I have Perfect Naked Berry. It’s so pretty.
  4. INIKA Mineral Lipstick This one is more expensive ($27), but I could not resist. I have Tuscan Tales, which is a terra cotta shade I’ve not seen elsewhere.  It’s in a simple, elegant tube, and feels moisturizing even though it has a more matte finish than most lipsticks.  I sense something special here, I think it’s made by fairies.*  I’d love to try more from this brand but I haven’t found a way to do samples yet.
  5. Afterglow Lip Love Lipstick This is another brand that I wish had a good sample program so I could try more colors ($24 for a tube). I bought Autumn, a very pretty auburn red, which I love. I also have Merlot, which is an altogether different thing from the rest on this list. It looks crazy dark in the tube. I find I really must blot with a tissue and then it turns out much like a beet stain, but with more staying power.

Have you tried any lesser known brands that are fabulous?

*I have no actual evidence that it is made by fairies.

42 Responses to “5 Clean Lipsticks for Super-Sensitive Lips”
  1. Jessica says:

    I’m so excited to see that Rebecca will be contributing! Her comments are always incredibly informative and helpful. I’m not generally a lipstick person, but the Real Purity line sounds intriguing.

  2. Victoria says:

    Bravo Rebecca for a super fresh review of products that deserve a little love! Lately, I’ve been crazy over Bite lipsticks and cosmetics, yet I hardly hear them mentioned or reviewed anywhere because the trend is to discuss the brands the celebrities are obsessed with and I’d rather talk about great products in general. I hope this will be a new series for NMDL! Can’t wait to read more from you!

  3. zimt-peppermint says:

    So cool to hear that Rebecca joined the team :)

  4. Amy says:

    I’ve only read the intro, and I have to pause to comment to say how excited I am about this idea!!! I always look forward to seeing Rebecca’s insight. She definitely brings so much to the NMDL community for me! YAY!!
    Thanks NMDL, Thanks Rebecca!
    Okay, now to the article….

  5. Lolly says:

    Yay, Rebecca! Get it, girl! ;-) Ahem… But yeah, what a great post with fab writing.

    I am so not a lipstick person. It’s weird, but I just don’t look good in lipsticks. Well, *I* think I look good in true red, but both my mother and my husband think it makes me look like a middle-aged prostitute (they don’t pull their punches those two!), so I remain lipstickless. I do like a shimmery gloss though. In fact, MAC glosses remain one of my few and rare backslides into the dirty side of things. Anyone have any reccomendations for a good, clean gloss? I don’t need glitter, but I do like shimmer (not frost) and a glossy, sleek texture.

  6. Stephanie Nelson says:

    I’ve used cocoa butter on my lips since I was 14 and lip liners, and find they stay better than lipstick and don’t feel as gunky. In 2001 I found a lip pencil that stayed on nearly all day, but they have since changed the formula and cannot find another as good – Styli-Style Line & Blend Lip Pencil is (was) the best, also I don’t know if it’s a “clean” product. I now also use “Makeup Forever” I think it’s a Sephora brand, and it works well, but also don’t know how “clean” it is – they aren’t listed on EWG.org. I have a Jane Iredale lip liner, and love all her stuff, but the liner doesn’t last like I need. Do you have any suggestions?

  7. Kristine says:

    Welcome Rebecca!

    Thanks for reviewing the lesser known brands— I love to read about the not-so-popular ones. Even though I’m more of a tinted lip balm/gloss kind of girl, I’m always willing to give something new a try! My current favorites are Dr. Hauschka’s lip gloss in Rose Quartz and Hemp Organics Lip Tint in Love. I found them at my local Whole Foods. Both are super moisturizing while giving just a hint of color.

    Definitely looking forward to your column! Best of luck to you :)

  8. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for all the love! I’m so happy to be a part of this community, and honored A & S asked me to be a regular contributor. <3

    @Lolly, that's hilarious! I do believe lipstick can totally change a look. I'm not much of a gloss person, but all the brands I mentioned make glosses and I think any would be a good bet to try. I'm tempted by INIKA's Lip Whip, but it's expensive to buy without a sample. I recently tried Intelligent Nutrients gloss in Purple Maize on a Friday deal. It doesn't really add color (though it looks purple coming out of the tube), but is shiny and feels nice.

    @Stephanie, you can input a list of ingredients (type it in or copy from website) into EWG for any product yourself and get a preliminary rating. Click build your own report at the top of the page. A quick search of Styli-Style does not reveal a list of ingredients, but I found something that says all FDA-approved ingredients. That right there tells me it's probably dirty. Likewise for Makeup Forever – I can't find a list of ingredients and that's a red flag. As for clean stuff, I have Afterglow's lip liner in Vino (they are still selling the older version, which I have, for only $11) and I really like it. I use it as a liner or an all-over stain. I haven't tried their other colors.

  9. Rebecca W says:

    Welcome Rebecca!! ;)

  10. Jan says:

    The two lipstick brands I like best are: Living Nature (which I order from Saffron Rouge or Living Nature’s own website) and Mineral Fusion (available at Whole Foods and other health food stores). Lately I have been wearing Mineral Fusion’s lipstick in Exotic, which is a light pink with a touch of coral – very pretty, somewhat sheer, and quite moisturizing.
    I tried the two coral colors in Living Nature’s lipstick line, and they are nice but a bit darker than I like. When I wear them, I put a layer of a lighter color over top.
    I like the suggestions given in this post – I’ll try them also!

  11. Anne says:

    What a great post! It’s great to finally read about brands that don’t get talked about much, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Rebecca!

  12. comagirl says:

    Not excited. It is difficult to take someone seriously who refers to grown women as “girls”. So, essentially, I stopped reading after that.

  13. Ann says:

    I Looooove INIKA’s Lip Whip – but I find that I need a neutral lip liner with it. At first I tried putting on my Burt’s Bees chap stick under it to make it stay longer, that helped a bit. But now I just wear it with lip liner and it stays as long as a dirty lip gloss. I always had to wear lip liner to get my dirty lip gloss to stay too though. I have it in apricot, it is a nice color. It just kind of finishes the look, but doesn’t look over done. Honestly, it looks, feels, and wears just as nicely as any dirty lip gloss. Lolly, I believe this would be what you’re looking for “I don’t need glitter, but I do like shimmer (not frost) and a glossy, sleek texture.” Very glossy, very sleek, not too sticky. Though it might be a bit more opaque, and a little less sheer. But I give it two thumbs up and think it’s worth the price.

  14. I really love the pigmented lipsticks from 100% Pure, they really last. I also love Hemp Organics, goes on silky smooth. I just wish they had a better nude :)


  15. Leslie says:

    @Ms. Lolly, I am not a lipstick girl either and usually i just stick with lip balm, BUT i got a sample of vegan lip gloss from The All Natural Face in a recent Eco Emi box and I really like it (when i remember to put it on). I smells and tingles from peppermint oil and it stays on for awhile. Plus, super affordable. :-)

  16. Stephanie says:

    That’s a great help, thanks so much Rebecca! Love the book, love the site and all the reports, keep up the great work!!!

  17. Beth says:

    When I read a post I often scroll down right away to see what Rebecca said. This is so cool.

  18. christina says:

    Hooray!!! So happy for you, Rebecca! :)
    I wish I had more to say on the topic of lipstick, but the truth is that I have worn it maybe 30 times in my 30 years.

  19. Lolly says:

    Thank you, lovely ladies, Rebecca, Ann and Leslie! I think I might try Afterglow or INIKA – both sound about right. And Leslie, I just ordered the lip balm from RMS, which I luuuurve! It doesn’t have color, but gives a nice shine, so it’s a great everyday alternative.

    Also, maybe it’s the two glasses of sangria I had at lunch talking, but I have a feeling some peeps could stand to lighten up a little? We’re talking about lipsticks here, you know? Not dismantling the patriarchy. Plus, my father, who is turning 70 next year, always tells me that he feels just like a boy and is always shocked to see a graying man staring at him from the mirror. So I, for one, am very happy to be called a “girl” and intend to remain one well into my golden girl years. Ok. Rant over.

  20. Moni says:

    I am so happy about this Rebecca!! You are so amazing! As is evidenced by the overwhelming comments of glee! (On a side note. I do’t understand people who only comment with negativity.) Like isn’t that a waste of energy? Omg. Can’t believe I now have to wait two weeks to hear you next words of wisdom. Eek!

  21. Krystal says:

    Yay Rebecca!
    I have a lot of different 100% Pure Lip Glazes. I was put off by the term “glaze” at first (I had visions of my mom’s old Wet ‘N’ Wild metallic purple lipstick in mind) but they’re quite lovely. More velvety than sticky, and after a while of wearing them, the shine fades down and leaves only the color and nice, soft lips. Great call!

  22. Sarah B. says:

    Congratulations Rebecca! I’ve been lurk-loving your comments for a long time. Super excited to hear what you (and Alexandra and Siobhan, of course!) are going to share next!

    And @Lolly – totally agree. “Dismantling the patriarchy” made me laugh, so thanks for that. :)

  23. Dr.MomTH says:

    Congrats Rebecca! Can’t wait to hear more from you! I am not a huge lipstick girl…I usually wear chapstick to soften my lips, but I have yet to find a color that stays on past my morning latte! I did buy some hemp organics in coral for my daughter’s first recital, thinking that it was a good color for a little girl. But I found that I love the color on a grown up too! It feels good and I think the color would look good on alot of skin tones. But I would love to find something like it with more staying power…

  24. Ruth says:

    It makes sense to have another voice about what works. How many products can you try, while maintaining consistency and your sanity?
    @Rebecca – I don’t have sensitive skin, so I thought. So, peeling lips are not normal…
    @Lolly – I like W3LL PEOPLE Paganist Lip Gloss. You can buy samples from them on their website.

  25. courtney says:

    HIIIII Rebecca!! I am so happy to see you contributing here :) And thank you for always being so kind.

    That is all.

  26. Rebecca says:

    Thank you, everyone. It truly makes me happy to be a part of the community we all make here, every day, with the leadership of Siobhan and Alexandra. I’m deeply touched, and humbled by all the love! Or drunk with power. Whatever. ; )

    @Ann, you’ve inspired me to go ahead and try the Lip Whip. Now to choose a color!

    @Lolly, yeah, I work on dismantling the patriarchy most every day (excellent turn of phrase, btw). But some days I want to just relax, think about lipstick, and hang with my girls. Words do have power, I get that. I long ago reclaimed that word as a powerful way of expressing affection and sisterhood. If the person I’m directing the word to is not feeling it, that’s okay and I would make an effort to not say it to that individual. I think A & S are okay with it, though.

  27. Rebecca says:

    @Ruth, a major help for my lips was switching to SLS free toothpaste, check out this recent post and comments: http://nomoredirtylooks.com/2012/06/is-your-toothpaste-toxic/#comments

  28. Sara says:

    Thanks for this post, Rebecca! After looking over the Real Purity site, I ordered a bunch of samples. I’m still using up my dirty makeup and testing samples out to find good replacements that aren’t insanely expensive.

  29. Nancy says:

    Just now got to read about this great news. My apologies Rebecca for being so late in my comments Welcome!! I, for one, could not be happier.
    This is an awesome addition and great for our community . Rebecca is the best! All that A&S wrote about and then some. She is knowledgeable besides always willing to comment and help. Anyone following this blog has benefitted from her insight , comments or DIY’s potions and concotions. So, welcome Rebecca !

  30. Nicole says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Rebecca is a contributor!!! Congrats!

  31. Rebecca says:

    @Sara, good for you, making the change! I like Real Purity’s mascara, too, if you are in the market. I’ve found with natural mascaras, I guess because of the pigment combos, the brown and brown/black shades perform better than the solid blacks.

    Thank you Nancy, my partner in DIY crime ; )

  32. Steph says:

    Rebecca’s column is indeed wonderful news! And she started with lipstick – a topic near & dear to my heart. As I try to upgrade my lipstick collection (yep, that word is used on purpose. 35 red lipsticks alone and counting ….) to greener ones, this is timely and appreciated. I do get sad at the staying power of clean lipsticks, but find if I exfoliate my lips with a gentle scrub like Buddha Nose’s or even just a washcloth, it helps, as does plain ole hydration from the inside out! My lips are a good bellweather for what’s going on with my inner workings.

    I also know that clean formulas will only continue to improve the more clean lipstick goes “mainstream,” so patience is key – as is buying these smaller brands to keep them in business.

    And, as I sign off, can I make a request for a column on natural mascaras?!? That’s the one item I just can’t seem to wrap my head around yet.

    Thanks again, Rebecca, and everyone else!

  33. Megan says:

    Hi there! I recently opened an all natural beauty bar up here in Victoria BC Canada. I have just rediscovered your site and am having so much fun going through your posts! We carry the 100% Pure lip glazes mentioned above and ladies love them! Also, for those of you looking for glosses, Revolution Organics has some great options.

  34. Rebecca says:

    @Megan, what’s the name of your store? I’m taking a trip to BC and we may do a day trip to Victoria.

  35. mInnow says:

    thank you so much for this post, rebecca!! i am THRILLED that you turned me on to real purity. their lipstick is fantastic. it’s creamy but stays put, and the colors are glorious. i got it in \clover red\ and now finally have a clean replacement for my MAC \lady danger\ and clinique \red red red.\ i had tried vapour, well & good, ilia, etc etc. but no clean brand i’ve tried has a creamy lipstick with the bright color and staying power like real purity. wahooooo and keep up the good work!!

  36. mInnow says:

    oops, i wrote well & good above when i meant to write w3ll people…so many great clean beauty hubs / brands to keep track of!

  37. Angela says:

    THANK YOU!!! You have NO idea how much I appreciate this list. About two years ago I became extremely sensitive to lip color. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what causes it (pretty sure SPF is a major problem for me). I am excited to try everything on your list.

  38. Shannon says:

    I love bite lipstick I havent wore lipstick, gloss etc. since 1999 I decided to try out Bite as recommend by the lady at sephora and its awesome. I used to get small bumps all over my lip and my lips would turn almost black when I used to wear lipstick. I was really hesitant to try bite but I’m so half I did!!! It’s very moisturizing, they are great colors and I have not had an allergic reaction!!! It is $24 a tube but its worth it!!

  39. Aida says:

    Hi there! I just love how you mention about all those rare colours. I a nut for such exotic looks and would live to try some.

    The link i provide is for Zuii Cosmetics, a natural cosmetic company that have samples for us to purchase and try. The link is for their current promo


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