Here's How Color-Changing Lipstick Actually Works

Makeup is a fun way to reinvent yourself without doing anything drastic, and color-changing lipstick takes this to the next level. In case you haven't heard of it or need a refresher, color-changing lipstick is just what it sounds like — a lipstick that changes color. 


This may sound like some sort of magic, but it's actually just basic science. Per Science Focus, it all comes down to the acids used within the lipsticks and how they react to your skin. This in turn creates a very cool process where you can pull out a lipstick that's bright green and end up with lips that are definitely not the same color. Color-changing products are popular on TikTok too, with the hashtag #colorchanginglipstick currently at 63.5 million views and counting. 

It may feel like a cool gimmick, but what is the main science behind color-changing lipstick, and do any of the shades actually have the potential to look good?

Color-changing lipsticks can be interesting to experiment with

According to Into The Gloss, the main ingredient used in color-changing formulas is called Red 27. Though colorless, this magic ingredient changes its pH when in contact with moisture and then turns into the bold pink shade we're used to seeing. However, Red 27 won't react the same on everybody. Cosmetic chemist Ni'kita Wilson explained to Allure, "Red 27 can turn based on your pH or the pH of its surrounding environment", meaning that the color you end up with is due to the way your skin reacts to the Red 27 dye rather than the color itself.


However, per Into The Gloss, Red 27 works the same when used off the skin, too. In an experiment wherein several color-changing lipsticks were swatched on a dry paper towel and then mixed with a teeny bit of water, the swatches all turned the same bright pink color as they would if put on lips. Color-changing lipsticks are clearly a bit gimmicky, but what are some of the best on the market if you still want to try them out?

Try this brand if you want to see the effect for yourself

While there are many options out there, if you want to make a bold statement with your lipstick, Lipstick Queen is one of the more popular brands that sell color-changing lipstick. Per Vogue, its lipstick range includes shades of red, berry, and pink. Its most well-known product, however, might be the "Frog Prince" lipstick, which starts out as a bold green lipstick and turns rosy pink when applied (via In The Know). If green isn't for you, Lipstick Queen also sells some other intriguing color-changing lipsticks. "Hello Sailor" is a stunning midnight blue that turns into plum, whereas the golden hue of "Queen Bee" may look strange in the tube but ends up adding a hint of warm bronze to your pout (via Vogue).


In conclusion? Color-changing lipsticks can be fun, but you could probably get a similar shade for much cheaper if you're not super keen on the novelty aspect they offer.