You put lipstick on your mouth every day so shouldn't you care about the ingredients as much as the shade?
That's the thinking behind a fresh new natural lipstick line developed by two students at the University of Alberta.
After a year of development, Akash Gupta and Sravya Kalyanapu recently launched Seleste Lipsticks, which are handcrafted using natural ingredients such as coconut oil, beeswax, and beetroot powder.
The two engineering students wanted to create an affordable product for women that didn't contain harsh ingredients that could be harmful to their health, Kalyanapu told HuffPost Canada.
Each lipstick sells for $20 and is available for purchase at their online store. There are currently six fun shades, including a deep red "Drama Queen" and a shimmery "Color Me Gold." The rich hues are extracted from natural pigments such as Australian red reef clay.
"Have a look at some of the major ingredients used in a leading brand versus some of the major ingredients used in our product," Kalyanapu said.
"What would you rather put on your lips: complex compounds, or ingredients you hear about every day, such as coconut oil, avocado oil and cocoa powder?"
Cosmetics can often contain unnatural, and even potentially toxic ingredients, such as parabens (which have been linked to breast cancer) and synthetic colours (which are suspected carcinogens). A typical brand-name lipstick contains chemicals such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and tocopheryl acetate, which have cancer and immunotoxicity concerns, according to EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
The idea for a natural lipstick came to Gupta when he was shopping with his mother and his sister, Kalyanapu said. While waiting in line at the cosmetics counter, Gupta decided to read the ingredients and was taken aback.
Even as a chemical engineer, he was unable to comprehend many of the ingredients contained in the product, Kalyanapu said. Kalyanapu and Gupta spent a year developing and testing the lipstick formula in a kitchen, but told Global News they hope to move a manufacturing facility soon.
Even as a chemical engineer, he was unable to comprehend many of the ingredients contained in the product.
It's not the first time Canadian students have gained notoriety for their inventiveness. In January, 20-year-old Ann Makosinski, a student at the University of British Columbia, was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for her two inventions: a flashlight powered by the heat of a human hand, and a mug that uses the heat from a coffee to charge a cell phone.
A philanthropic angle
Seleste Lipsticks' tagline is "Smile, you're making a difference," because a portion of the profits are used to empower and educate women in third-world countries. The company's first initiative is to help the children in the village of Gopineni Palem, India, where Kalyanapu's family is from. Her grandparents still live there, she told HuffPost Canada.
Charity always starts at home.Sravya Kalyanapu
The company has already sponsored medicines and organic foods for the children, and they're working with local doctors there on how to help the children maintain their health.
"Akash and I strongly believe that empowering women is essential to build a strong, secure and prosperous future for our families and communities," Kalyanapu said.
"We wanted Seleste to be more than just a lipstick manufacturing company."
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