How much is inside a lipstick? I really, really wanted to know. From MAC counter girls to drama majors and Avon salespeople, no one knew the answer to this question...until now.

The popular guess is about 120 applications, depending on lip size and makeup enthusiasm. At the MAC counter, Brooke picked out a color she could wear consistently (Twig $13.50).

We took it home and weighed it. The full container was 18.5 grams (including cap).

Three weeks later, she had used the lipstick 30 times, and it was barely dented. The scale showed it was just two-tenths of a gram lighter than when we had started!

An empty MAC tube (used to the nub) weighs 15.5 grams, which it precisely what it should when you subtract the 3 grams of lipstick indicated on the label. If Brooke continued using the lipstick, it would yield another 420 applications!

Three grams of lipstick will provide almost 450 applications, enough for 8 days.
Next, we had to calculate the surface area of Brooke's lips.

Careful measurements and calculations revealed she has 5.32 cm2 of lip area. Use this number when comparing your lips to Brooke's.

As Brooke was slowly making her way through the first lipstick, our friend Carli, Chanel Beaute Analyste, made a valuable contribution to science: Two full Lancôme lipsticks. This allowed me to attack this question from another angle.

Ambur volunteered her legs for the 2nd phase of the lipstick experiment. Starting at her feet, I worked my way up with Lancôme's "Rouge Sensation Sepia". Ambur thought it was pretty funny when the stick snapped off because I had it dialed out too far...but I recovered before the operation was ruined.

As her legs were covered in red, Ambur had a thought, "I could apply this lipstick to a hundred women, just by kicking them in the face".

I was just below her knees when the lipstick bottomed out.

The stump weighed 10.5 grams, only 4 grams less than when I started! This was surprising because Lancôme sticks are labeled at 4.5 grams. Obviously the people at Lancôme were counting the lipstick inside the base! Rip off! I composed and posted an angry letter to Lancôme headquarters.

Really, really complex math revealed that the covered surface area on Ambur's legs was about 2,720 square centimeters.

I told Ambur not to worry about any perverts seeing these pictures; the Internet is too complicated for them to figure out!

This is comparable to the calculated 2,350 square centimeters from Brooke's MAC (Make-up Art Cosmetics). So, there you have it, a lipstick contains between 300 and 500 applications, depending on the size of your lips and everything.

Remember kids, always use eye-protection when applying lipstick.

Last updated April 14, 2000