The manufacturing process behind lip gloss is understood better when seen as three distinct steps. The first is the melting and mixing of the lipstick, the second is the pouring of the mixture into the lipstick tube, and the third is the product packaging that finally goes on sale.
Since lipstick mass is able to be mixed and even stored for use later thanks to liquid filling machines, mixing doesn’t actually have to happen the same time that pouring does. Once lipstick is in its tube, then retail sale packaging can be quite diverse, based on how a product will be specifically marketed.
Melting and Mixing
First of all, the raw ingredients used in lipstick get melted and mixed. This happens separately given the various kinds of ingredients that are used. One mixture will contain the solvents, while a second will contain the oils, and then a third will have the waxy materials and fats. These get heated in their own ceramic or stainless steel containers.
The liquid oils and solvent solution then get mixed the colour pigments. This mixture gets passed through a roller mill, which grinds the pigment in a way that helps the lipstick avoid having a ‘grainy’ feel. This particular process introduces some air into the mixture of oil and pigment, which means that it’s necessary for there to be mechanical work involved. This mixture gets stirred for a number of hours, and this is the point in the process where a number of producers apply vacuum equipment in order to get the air out.
Once the pigment mass gets grounded and mixed, it’s then added into the hot wax mass up to the point of obtaining uniform consistency and colour. It’s then possible to strain and mould the fluid lipstick, or it might just get poured into pans where it is stored for moulding in the future.
If any fluid lipstick is to get used immediately, then the melt will be maintained at temperature. Agitation is used to make sure that any trapped air escapes. When a lipstick mass gets stored, then it has to be reheated, checked out for colour consistency, and adjusted for specifications before it can be used. It also has to get maintained at its melt temperature, again with agitation, before it can get poured.
As you would expect, lipsticks always get prepared in batches given the various colour pigments which can get used. The batch size, which eventually becomes the total number of lipstick tubes that can be made at one time, depends on the known popularity of the specific shade under production. This determines whether or not manual or automated manufacturing techniques get used.
Once a lipstick mass gets mixed and is free of air, then it’s ready to get poured into tubes. Many different machine setups see use for this, based on what specific equipment a manufacturer has at the time. However, higher-volume batches typically get put through a melter which agitates the mass of lipstick to maintain it all in a liquid form. Smaller batches run manually typically have the mass maintained at a chosen mix temperature using agitation inside a melter that’s controlled by a human operator.
The melted mass will be dispensed into moulds, which has the lower portion of plastic or metal tubs and shaping portions which fit snugly in those tubes. Lipstick gets poured in an ‘upside down’ fashion in order for the bottom of that tube to be at the top of its mould. If any excess is left on the mould, it is scraped off.
Next, the lipstick gets cold. Automated moulds are just kept cold, whereas manually produced moulds get transferred to refrigeration units. After this, it’s separated from its mould, and the tube bottoms are sealed. The lipstick then gets flamed by hand or passed through a flaming cabinet in order to seal any pinholes and to enhance the finish. Lipstick gets inspected visually for air holes, blemishes, and mould separation lines. If necessary, it gets reworked.
Packaging and Labelling
Once lipstick gets retracted and its tube gets capped, it’s ready for packaging and labelling. Labels which identify the batch get applies through automated operations. While there’s a lot of emphasis on the appearance and quality of a finished lipstick product, there’s not so much emphasis put on how lip balms appear. Aside from test or experimental batches, lip balms always get produced using automated processes. Heated liquids are poured into their tubes while in the retracted position. Tubes get capped by machines, which takes a lot less labour.