I have applied, swatched, and reviewed a lot of lipstick in the last 13 years–there are over 13,000 lip swatches in the Swatch Gallery, and there are years of photos that aren’t included (because they’re older, lower quality, etc.). I want to discuss my own experiences over the years of what I’ve found to be a common enough occurrence that I’d consider it “acceptable.” I’ve gone through some of the more popular lipstick formulas and brands, both high-end and budget-friendly, and tried to pull from more recent images I’ve taken; I didn’t have to hunt long to find what I needed.
Since Jaclyn Cosmetics lipsticks started to be received, there have been reports of issues with some being more typical and normal (to varying degrees, though) and others being more concerning. I think that they’re being scrutinized to a level that most lipsticks have not been held to, so I thought that as someone who has literally photographed thousands upon thousands of lipsticks over the years that I could share my insight based on what I’ve seen over the years on what’s normal / what’s not and to what degree.
For people who may not have the time to read through the entire post:
What we are seeing on Jaclyn’s lipsticks is abnormal because of the number of different issues (not just heat-sensitive, like melting/sweating) and the degree of which they exist (not one piece of lint but lots of unknown fibers/material) as well as the number of people reporting issues with multiple shades that they ordered/received.
As I originally said below, the issues reported have merit and need to be investigated. Because they are so numerous, I would not recommend purchasing them until the brand releases more information or they reformulate. Unfortunately, the Jaclyn lipsticks I purchased do not look like the worst people are sharing on social media, so I can’t personally provide detailed photos of my own. RawBeautyKristi, on YouTube, has shared photos of one of the worst she received, which is unlike anything I’ve encountered (which should tell you that that’s very abnormal!).
These are the most prevalent issues that have unfolded out of the Jaclyn Hill Lipsticks drama over the last few days, and again, it is hard for us looking from the outside in to know just how frequently these issues are happening. If you purchased your lipsticks and are not happy, the brand has a return policy (which existed from the beginning) and has affirmed that they will refund/replace defective lipsticks. I would recommend emailing their customer service and reporting any issues you’ve experienced and be specific about the shades and what’s occurring to which shade.
- Soft, melting, broken lipsticks
- Sweaty lipsticks
- Small holes
- Grainy/gritty bits in lipstick
- Fuzziness — from claims of full-on, long pieces of hair to mid-length fibers (both white and black) to lint
- Smells like playdoh/crayons
- Black spots on the base
I addressed the first four in my rundown of the process of receiving and swatching all 20 shades of lipsticks (that I purchased) in my original post (that included swatches). Short summary: Mine arrived with signs of sweat across many shades, a couple had subtle “drips” of melted product on the side (subtle that I didn’t notice while photographing), a couple with raised waxiness, and some with pinprick-like holes (again, see below for what’s “normal” to me).
I wasn’t aware of the latter two issues until after I wrote my post. I did go back through and look at both the close-up photos I took (which have been there for anyone to view), and I didn’t have fuzziness or fibers that I could see. There were two or three shades with one, small piece of lint that looked more floating (like Sofia, you can barely see it floating off the top left of the slant), so it would be what I’d consider normal to my experience with lipstick close-ups (see below for lots of examples or above in the slideshow). I went back and twisted up all 20 of the shades I have and looked for anything peculiar along the base, and I couldn’t find anything amiss. Mine smell like a burnt sugar/caramel scent, I think L’Oreal or CoverGirl has something similar, but they were consistent across all 20 shades. Edited for clarity: As I state below, there ARE issues being reported that are concerning, but unfortunately, I didn’t experience all of the issues so I can’t personally confirm or show you photos.
There are enough issues–like that’s a long list of issues being cited by customers–that Jaclyn Cosmetics has to take a serious look at their inventory, the third-parties they’re working with, and may have to reformulate to create a more heat-stable formula, because the launch has gone terribly wrong and there are too many issues occurring across too many shades (within what one person has ordered) that it feels less and less one-off.
This post is not intended to take away from the issues being reported but to look back and see what does happen across brands and formulas, what has happened, and whether I’d consider that normal or rare based on 13 years of reviewing thousands of lipsticks. The issues being reported have merit and should be investigated thoroughly by the brand.
To be clear: I would not recommend purchasing any of the brand’s lipsticks at this time until there is more clarity provided by the brand and/or new inventory or reformulation available.
Are soft, melting lipsticks normal? They’re rare.
It’s rare for a lipstick to full-on melt in a tube; it would have to be receiving a lot of heat exposure for a long enough period of time. If you left a lipstick in your car’s cup holder in full sun on a 100 degree day, it’s probably going to look 10 kinds of strange when you open it. You can take a lighter (with care, please) and the heat will smooth out and add shine back to a lipstick but can be enough heat (in just a few seconds) to cause drips down the side of a lipstick.
Melting Lipsticks — Bite Beauty Leo
As someone who orders Costco-level of makeup every year (I’ve been maintaining a spending level around $40-50K on products to review for the last few years) and has done so for many, many years now, it is exceedingly rare to receive a lipstick that has completely melted. For the record, I lived in the south Bay Area, CA and have been in the Phoenix, Arizona area since October 2015. It regularly reached 100 degrees in the summer months in California, and about a third of the year sits close to or above 100 degrees in Arizona. At both homes, I had a covered, front door entryway, so in the event a package wasn’t brought inside after delivery, they did not sit in full sun. In California, I received most of my deliveries earlier in the day. In Arizona, most of my UPS and USPS deliveries arrive later, 4-7PM, and they sit on a hot truck for longer; DHL and FedEx tend to deliver before 3PM.
Bite Beauty’s Leo might have been the worst I’ve seen, where it melted down into itself (and Bite offered to replace it, even though I didn’t ask). Following that, I’ve seen enough lipsticks where the tips are softer from hitting the top of the tube, which can be from getting dislodged from the base of the tube but can just be that it was extended/overfilled and hitting the top of the inside of the cap. The next batch of lipsticks that stood out as melt-happy were Bite Beauty’s Nearly Neon collection, which I received and reviewed in July 2017.
With a softened lipstick, it’s most likely that you’ll find the lipstick starts to angle out of its base, but it’s less likely it’ll just fallout of the base (because it is melting and very soft). That being said, in the winter, some lipsticks can get cold enough that they’re so solid they pop right out of the base! I don’t experience this as I’ve always lived in warmer areas (California and Arizona) that often but have had it happen a few times.
Are sweaty lipsticks normal? Yes, it’s very common.
Lipstick sweat is nothing new at all. I remember it being a thing years and years ago, and it’s something I’ve personally experienced regularly, throughout the years, and it doesn’t have to be 100 degrees outside for it to happen. I have lipsticks that have clear indicators that it sweated and dried down at some point to lipsticks actively sweating after they’ve arrived (still wet and sweaty the next day when I’ve gone to photograph them, like Urban Decay 66). I consider this extremely normal. You can view a very minor incident of sweating (that dried down for the most part) with MAC Let’s Mesa Around.
Sweating Lipsticks – NARS Stefania
Some of these sweatier suckers have expanded areas of waxiness (see Bite Beauty Nearly Neon Blue), like a raised mound (which I’ve also seen without sweatiness, as seen in Tom Ford The Perfect Kiss), and others are almost dripping wax (see Bite Beauty Nearly Neon Orange). These are rarer incidents, but I’ve seen them enough across brands that it hasn’t been something I’ve been concerned over. They are, however, not gritty or grainy.
Are small holes in lipsticks normal? Yes, it’s very common.
Feel free to browse through the thousands and thousands of close-up photos of lipsticks I’ve done over the years. The small, tiny, almost pin-like holes on the edges and tips of lipsticks occurs all the time. A big gaping maw in the side of your lipstick would be rare. I’ve only pulled a few examples of this one because it’s what I’d consider completely expected and normal, but as I was pulling examples of other issues, I pulled the high-res close-ups for Bite Beauty Scorpio (unusual amount of holes), MAC Leave Me Breathless (MAC has them all the time), Pat McGrath Sorry Not Sorry (a cluster of pin-sized holes on the upper right of the slant), and Sephora Girl Crush (has them on the side as well). There are often pin-sized holes along the edges of lipsticks, usually at the tip of the slant, but an excessive amount on the slanted tip and/or on the side is less normal, but it is something occurs from pouring lipsticks.
Are grainy or gritty lipsticks normal? They’re exceedingly rare.
This is so rare that I can’t recall any particular examples of past incidents. The only lipsticks that I can easily recall that are more textured are glitter-packed lipsticks–and that’s normal–but crystallization within a lipstick is definitely very rare.
Are lint and fibers on lipsticks normal? They’re more common than you think.
I’ve been taking close-up shots of lipstick for a long time. I’ve seen all degrees of foreign bodies on lipsticks from specks of dusts to tiny particles to short fibers to longer fibers. I don’t find the small (think 1/4″ long) piece of lint or “hair” (they always seem like a synthetic material, more fiber-like or lint-like) is particularly odd. Even the rarer, longer fiber (more like 1/2″ to 1″ in length) is still common enough to me as someone who stares at these photos on the regular to be peculiar. A lipstick that’s noticeably fuzzy with more than one long or two smaller pieces? Yes, that is concerning, it’s not normal, and it is of particular concern when it occurs across multiple shades in the same formula at the same time.
Fibers in Lipsticks – Makeup Geek Candid
The worst I’ve seen in the past was Makeup Geek’s Iconic Lipsticks, which had noticeable, longer fibers strewn through the lipsticks, and they were present in more than one or two shades. The worst offenders were: Candid, Giddy, Shady, Spoiled, and Witty; and then shades that were “better” were ones like Naive that had a small piece of lint and smaller fiber (black) on them. These were received and reviewed in December 2016 (and they were press samples).
Edited for clarity + update: Makeup Geek is used as an example of worst, just like other shades I’ve pulled here (like most melted, sweatiest, etc.) which means that I haven’t personally encountered worse than this. Because I have seen these types of fibers woven along the edge (part of it being just under the surface–enough to be at least partially covered or tinted by the lipstick itself) in various lipsticks over the years, while it was surprising to see it in multiple shades within the same launch, it was still similar to what I’ve seen in the past. If you see a photo that shows something like this but with 5x the number of fibers, it should have you more concerned.
Edited to add 6/12 9PM PST: While we messaged publicly and privately, as well as spoke on the phone, and I felt we had come to a place of understanding, it has since turned out not to be the case. The brand has stated that they have “not received any customer complaints that support the claims made by the reviewer.” I’ve shared my personal experience but made no claims about it occurring to anyone else as the whole point of this post was to highlight that I have seen a variety of imperfections across brands, formulas, and price points. I’m happy that it wasn’t a widespread issue, but I never said nor did I ever allude to it being a widespread issue. The review posts are available for viewing on Wayback Machine to show that they did, in fact, exist in 2016/2017 when they were originally published along with comments from readers asking about the fibers found on the lipsticks. [End Edit for 6/12 9PM PST]
It is a prime example that brands that try to cross their Ts and dot their Is can still have mishaps happen–this was one of the points of the post: there are going to be deviations from perfection at some point. Please don’t make a leap or assumption that I’m equating what’s shown here as worse than the most egregious photos going around of Jaclyn Cosmetics Lipsticks as that’s not what I said (I said the opposite, “A lipstick that’s noticeably fuzzy with more than one long or two smaller pieces? Yes, that is concerning, it’s not normal, and it is of particular concern when it occurs across multiple shades in the same formula at the same time”), which was stated above.
My house isn’t a clean room, and my photo studios is certainly not a clean room! There are absolutely times where I’ve seen specks of dust or even a small piece of lint that looks like it floated down, and it would be difficult to determine if it arrived that way or if it happened while I had it open and was working to photograph. There are, however, incidences where the pieces are more on the side, lay flatter, or are more embedded in the product–and I’d say these suggest it wasn’t me, it was them.
Here are ones that I’ve selected and while I’ve chosen these deliberately, it took me a half hour to pick and choose all images I selected for this post, and I stayed with more recently released products. All of the images are available in the slideshow at the beginning, which can be viewed as a high-res, 100% crop if you open the image in a new tab.
Fibers on/in Lipsticks: Examples
- Bobbi Brown Cranberry (ghosting of a longer fiber on the side of the tube)
- ColourPop Afterglow (small black fiber peeking out of the base) / ColourPop Maleficent (a mix of short, black fibers/lint) / ColourPop Sure Thing (small piece of lint, curlier, short fibers on the right part of the slant that appear covered in product)
- Dior Ultra Crave (white fiber/almost string-like piece coming out of the right edge)
- Guerlain #03 (small piece of lint above logo, black fiber under logo)
- L’Oreal Glassy Garnet (odd black particles all over the top)
- MAC Yoni Crush (longer fiber that goes across the bottom portion of the slanted tip)
- Makeup Geek’s Iconic Lipstick: Candid, Giddy, Shady, Spoiled, and Witty
- Tom Ford Mia (short, curled fiber on slanted tip)
- Tom Ford Satin Chic (lint and a small, black fiber)
Lint on Lipsticks: Examples
- Bite Beauty Mauvember (right side of the mustache logo, looks slightly embedded)
- Bobbi Brown Angel (random particle, three pieces of lint)
- ColourPop Hades (lint all over the slant – unusual amount)
- MAC Lucky in Love (small lint below the slant) / MAC Elle Belle (lint pieces on the side) / MAC Framboise Moi (lint on the bottom of side, also on slanted tip) / MAC Sweet MamaStarrr (lint pieces on the side)
- NARS Linda (small piece of lint on the side)
- Pat McGrath She’s So Deep (lint on slanted tip, three small bits on the side) / Pat McGrath Sorry Not Sorry (cluster of black dust/small pieces on the side, one piece on the tip)
- Tom Ford Love Crime (small piece of lint on the side)