How does Shiseido’s smudge proof lipstick work?

PMA says…There is something special about Shiseido’s lipsticks: although they give an extremely moist feel and appearance, they are “smudge-proof” (and since 80’s or early 90’s). Yes, there are some other “smudge-proof” lipsticks in the market, but they usually are matte and can even dry out your lips. Shiseido explains these characteristics have to do with the control of “oil separation” but I really didn’t understand their explanation.

The Beauty Brains respond:

I found their explanation confusing as well! I’m wondering if the problem is that they’re translating copy from Japanese to English. At any rate here’s how I decipher it.

Thou shalt not separate

Typically your primary goal when formulating a cosmetic product is to make sure that it’s stable and that the ingredients stay mixed together. That means you may have to use a blend of different oils, combined with multiple surfactants,thickeners and stabilizers to prevent even the smallest amount of phase separation. (Separation is typically a problem in water and oils based creams and lotions but the same principles apply to lipstick which is composed of different fats oils and waxes.) If you’re successful then your product will be very homogeneous and every ingredient will be dispersed equally throughout the product. In the case of a lipstick that means that after you apply it there is as much pigment at the top of the film as there is at the bottom.

Breaking up is hard to do

Shiseido has taken sort of an “anti-stability” approach when formulating this lipstick. It looks like they’re using oils which provide some degree of controlled separation. Therefore when you apply the product to your lips you don’t get uniform dispersion of the pigment from top to bottom. Instead the oil, having a lower specific gravity, separates and rises to the top of the film leaving the pigment at the bottom. This “controlled separation” theoretically offers two advantages: First it could help give a shinier, wet look. Second, since the oil is on the top of the pigments, it’s the oil that will transfer to other surfaces not the color.

It’s certainly a clever solution but it’s not without its drawbacks. For example if the lips are left too wet and greasy, that’s certainly not aesthetically appealing. Second, I don’t see how this works over time. When you first apply the product it has this controlled separation and the oil rises to the top. You then drink a cup of coffee and some of the oil comes off on the cup. Then what happens? Do the layers underneath act as a reservoir for additional oil that is released as the top layer is depleted? Or, once you’ve worn away the top layer of separated oil do you expose the pigmented layers beneath? If that’s the case, the next time you take a drink or coffee you will leave a lip stain on the cup.

Has anyone has actually tried this product? I’d be curious to see hear your thoughts!