Moldy Lipstick: Your Comprehensive Guide to Identification, Prevention, and Safe Usage

Moldy Lipstick

Mold on lipstick is a concern that many may overlook, and can have health implications. It’s not just about the aesthetics of your stick, but also about what you’re applying on your lips and ingesting.

Understanding how to detect mold in or on a lipstick is helpful for any woman. It’s not always easy to identify, especially since some lipstick ingredients can mimic the appearance of mold. All it takes though is a little knowledge.

Mold within a lipstick is more than just an unpleasant sight and smell. It can lead to skin irritations, infections, and other health issues. It’s important to regularly check your lipsticks for signs of mold, especially if they’ve been housed improperly or kept for a long time.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of moldy lipsticks. We’ll discuss what causes lipstick to mold, how to identify it, and what to do if you find mold on your lipstick. We’ll also share some tips on how to prevent your lipsticks from molding and how to properly store them.

So, let’s get started and ensure that your lipstick collection is not just beautiful, but also safe and healthy!

What Causes Lipstick to Mold?

Mold is like that uninvited guest who shows up at a party when the conditions are just right. It needs three things to grow: food, moisture, and the right temperature range. 

– Food for Lipstick Mold: Mold doesn’t munch on your lipstick like a chocolate bar. Instead, it feeds on tiny particles like dust or dead skin cells that might land on your lipstick when you use it. Mold may also graze on organic materials included in the lipsticks formula. With “natural beauty” really taking off, more and more lipsticks are made with organic compounds that can feed mold, and bacteria, in the right conditions.

So food for mold is either introduced from the outside when the lipstick is open.

  • The environment (careful opening your new lipstick in a busy public bathroom – eww)
  • Your own body and lips can introduce skin cells and bacteria ( best to have a clean kisser when applying lipstick, or use a spatula and lip brush.)

Or the food for mold is already in the formula. This condition can be worsened by a lipstick formula that isn’t properly preserved.

  • Organic Butters
  • Fruit Pigments
to grow mold on lipstick

– Moisture: Mold loves damp places. If you keep your lipstick in a humid place like your bathroom (hot showers anyone?), it’s like sending an invitation to mold. 

– The Right Temperature: Mold prefers a cozy environment, just like us. It thrives in temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the usual room temperature in most homes. If your lipstick experiences change in temp often, for example, being left in a hot car, it could create a perfect environment to grow mold by causing “sweating”, which adds moisture from the air to the outside.

Humidity is another factor. Mold really thrives with moisture. If your lipstick is kept in a humid environment, like a steamy bathroom, or if you live in Houston – humidity might be unavoidable.

– Direct Sunlight: You might think that sunlight would kill mold, but it’s not that simple. While sunlight can kill some types of mold, it can also cause your lipstick to sweat, especially if it’s a hot day. This sweat can then create a moist environment that mold loves.

– Moisture and Sweating Keeps Mold Growing: Every time you apply lipstick, it comes into contact with your lips. This can be a source of moisture.

Humid environments, steamy bathrooms also provide a water source for mold.

Sweating occurs during abrupt temperature changes. Leaving a cold house and getting into a hot vehicle. This can cause moisture in the bullet to “sweat” out of it. This is normal, but the more times it happens the shorter the lifespan of the product.

What Can You Do?

So, what can you do to prevent your lipstick from molding? Store it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. And try not to leave it in places where it can experience temperature changes, like your car or near a window.

Now, you might be thinking, “But I keep my lipstick in my makeup bag, not in a damp and dark cave!” That’s a good point. But remember, your lipstick goes wherever you go. Did you leave it in your car today or take it with you to a beach vacation. 

The key to preventing mold on your lipstick is to control these conditions. Store your lipstick in a cool, dry place and make sure to keep it clean. (hint: You can spritz your lipstick with isopropyl alcohol and let it air dry – more on this later).

Identifying Mold on Lipstick

Obvious Signs of Mold Growth

Mold on lipstick is noticeable. It appears as fuzzy spots on the lipstick. These spots can be of various colors, including green, black, white, or even pink. 

Not bumps without fuzz (that can be oil pressing out of the bullet and then drying on the outside).

Not speckles (that can be color separation), but usually a “spot” that is “fuzzy”. 

moldy lipstick
Macro shot of mold. Mold spores on lipstick

The Difference Between Wax Bloom and Mold

It’s important to differentiate between mold and a harmless phenomenon called ‘wax bloom’. Wax bloom happens when lipsticks or glosses are exposed to temperature flux. Bloom appears as tiny, white, or crystal-like structures on the surface of the lipstick. Unlike mold, wax bloom doesn’t change the smell of the lipstick and can be easily wiped off. Wax bloom is also harmless

How to Differentiate Between Expired Lipstick and Mold

Just a plain expired product and mold can be confused. They may both have changes in texture and smell. However, expired lipstick usually has a rancid smell due to the oils in it going bad, while mold has a musty smell. Also, expired lipstick might become dry and hard to apply, but it doesn’t have the fuzzy spots characteristic of mold growth.

Health Risks of Using Moldy Lipstick

Potential Skin Reactions and Infections

Using lipstick that has mold can lead to potential skin reactions. It can cause allergic reactions when they come into contact with the skin. These reactions can range from mild irritations, such as redness and itching, to more severe conditions like dermatitis. In some cases, mold can even lead to skin infections, especially if you have cuts or sores.

The Dangers of Ingesting Mold Spores

Lipstick is a cosmetic product that we apply near our mouth, so there’s a 100% chance we ingest some of it unintentionally. While most molds are harmless, some can produce toxins known as mycotoxins, which can be harmful if ingested. 

Symptoms of mycotoxin ingestion can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, damage to the nervous system and liver. Yuck!

upset tummy from mold on lipstick

The Harmful Effects of Contaminated Cosmetics

Mold on a lipstick is a form of contaminated cosmetic. ALL makeup becomes contaminated eventually. It’s unavoidable. Using contaminated makeup can cause a variety of health issues. 

If you’re allergic to mold, you might experience symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash when you use a lipstick that contains mold. In people with asthma, mold can trigger an asthma attack.

In conclusion, while a little mold on your lipstick might not seem like a big deal, it can lead to a variety of health issues. It’s always better to be safe and replace any lipstick that shows signs of mold growth.

How to Prevent Lipstick from Molding

Importance of Storing Lipsticks in a Cool Area

Storing your sticks in a cool place is GREAT for their longevity. Heat can cause the ingredients in your lipstick to break down, leading to changes in texture, color, and Yes, the growth of mold. 

It’s best to keep your lipsticks in a cool, dry place. 

A makeup drawer or a vanity table located away from windows or heat sources would be ideal. 

Not Near Your Steamy Shower

If you live in a particularly hot climate, you might even consider storing your lipsticks in the refrigerator. However, be sure to keep them in a separate compartment to avoid any cross-contamination with food items.

The Role of Proper Makeup Hygiene

Proper makeup hygiene plays a significant role in preventing your lipsticks from molding. Including cleaning your lipstick. It’s best to do it after each use, but that’s not always practical. Once a week works well, too. 

You can do this in two ways that are very easy.

  • Wiping the surface with a clean tissue. 
  • Spritzing with rubbing alcohol.

Additionally, avoid sharing your lipsticks with others as this can introduce bacteria and other germs. And hand washing goes a long way, too.

If you want to share your lipstick, use a clean cosmetic spatula to scrap some off onto an index card and let your friend use a clean lip brush directly off the index card.

Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Lipsticks

Here are some tips to help extend the shelf life of your favorite sticks:

  • Regularly clean your lipsticks: As mentioned earlier, cleaning your lipstick after each use can help keep it in good condition. You can also use a makeup sanitizer spray for a deeper clean.
  • Store them correctly: Keep them in a cool, dry place. If you’re storing them in the refrigerator, make sure they’re in a separate compartment.
  • Use clean brushes: If you’re using a brush to apply your lipstick, make sure it’s clean. Regularly wash your makeup brushes.
  • Pay attention to changes: If your lipstick changes color, texture, or smells, it’s time to throw it out. 

By following these tips, you can keep your lipsticks fresh and safe to use, extending their shelf life and preventing the growth of mold.

How to Remove Mold from Lipstick

Using Rubbing Alcohol to Clean the Lipstick

If you notice “a little” mold on your lipstick, you can try to clean it using rubbing alcohol. Here’s how:

  1. Fill a cup with isopropyl alcohol (70% is usually the best option).
  2. Dip your lipstick in the alcohol. Turn it all the way up so the entire bullet is exposed. Submerge the lipstick in the cup of alcohol, and hold it there for 15 to 30 seconds.
  3. After you’ve let the lipstick soak in the alcohol, remove it from the cup.

Depending on the formula of your lipstick, this might destroy it. Newer, very organic and fruit pigmented type lip stain and tinted type balms might just fall apart. If this happens, you weren’t going to use the product anyway, so no harm, no foul.

Wiping the Outer Layer with a Tissue

If you stick survived the alcohol (most should), use a tissue to wipe off the top layer of lipstick from the bullet. This should remove the visible mold. Leave the lipstick uncovered so it can finish air drying the rest of the way.

When to Throw It Away

While cleaning with rubbing alcohol can help remove surface mold, it may not eliminate all spores, especially if the mold has penetrated deeper into the lipstick. If the lipstick has a persistent musty smell, it’s time to let it go.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can mold on lipstick be removed easily?

Spores are resilient and don’t die easily. They can survive in harsh conditions and can remain dormant for a long time. However, they can’t grow without moisture. If your lipstick is dry and cool place, the spores won’t be able to grow. 

What happens if I wear moldy lipstick?

First, you might experience an allergic reaction, which can cause your lips to become red, swollen, or itchy. Second, if you have a cut or crack on your lips, mold can cause an infection. Lastly, if you ingest the mold, it can lead to digestive issues. 

How can I test if my lipstick is moldy?

There are a few signs you can look for to determine if your lipstick is moldy. First, check for any visible mold growth, which might look like fuzzy spots on the surface of the lipstick. Second, smell the lipstick. If it has a musty, like a potato, it might be mold growing. 

The Role of Lipstick Formulas in Mold Growth

Lip Glosses vs Lipsticks: A Mold Perspective

When it comes to mold growth, lip glosses and lipsticks behave differently. Due to their liquid nature and the presence of more oils, can be more susceptible to mold growth. The moist environment inside the lip gloss tube can provide a perfect breeding ground for mold. On the other hand, lipsticks, especially those with a matte finish, are less prone to mold because they are drier.

The Impact of Oils and Waxes in Lipsticks

The oils and waxes in lipstick play a significant role in mold growth. Oils can provide the moisture that mold needs to grow. However, waxes, particularly those with antimicrobial properties, can help prevent mold growth. They create a barrier that protects the oils and other ingredients from contamination.

The Impact of Preservatives In Lipsticks

Preservatives in cosmetics are designed to combat a range of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast, and mold. They work by creating an inhospitable environment for these microorganisms, preventing them from growing and multiplying.

Preservatives get a bad rap, unfairly in some cases. But lipsticks can be okay without a heavy preservative, but the life span is shorter and more care should be taken with storage of the product.

Liquid Lipsticks and Mold

Liquid lipsticks, like glosses, can be more susceptible to mold growth. The liquid formula can retain more moisture, and if the lipstick is not taken care of, it can become a breeding ground for mold. Therefore, it’s crucial to store liquid lipsticks in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat, to prevent mold growth. Liquid lipstick spend a lot of time laid on their side and when half empty this provides a lot of surface area with the remaining air to grow mold. Inspect your liquid lipsticks before reopening them if they’ve been sitting for a while.


Understanding and preventing the mold is crucial for maintaining not only the quality of your makeup but also your health. Moldy lipstick can lead to a variety of issues, from irritations to more severe health problems if ingested. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to identify mold on your lipstick and understand what causes it.

Proper makeup hygiene and storage play a significant role in preventing mold growth. By regularly cleaning your lipsticks, storing them in a cool and dry place, and avoiding sharing them with others, you can significantly reduce the risk of mold contamination.

In conclusion, while the thought of moldy lipstick might be unsettling, it’s a problem that can be easily avoided with the right knowledge and practices. So, let’s keep our lipsticks mold-free and continue to enjoy the beauty and confidence they bring to our lives. Remember, when it comes to makeup, safety should always be as important as beauty.

And Remember, buy lipsticks from reputable lipstick brands, like Red Apple Lipstick.

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