This Is Exactly What Lipstick Looks Like Under A Microscope

Photographed By Alexandra Gavillet.
More often than not, we don’t really think about the anatomy of our makeup. Most mornings, we’re off to a late start, racing to put on some SPF, concealer, and mascara before heading out the door. But when we take a second to really think about it, the idea is fascinating.
Makes sense: We’re mesmerized by bath bombs quietly exploding in the tub, intrigued by how our favorite soaps are made, heck, even macro images of glitter make us stop and stare — so what about the stuff we put on every single day? Sure, we might know how the products are made, but taking a closer look is a whole other story — one that a woman and her daughter recently documented.
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Blogger Amy Oyler from The Scientific Mom put her favorite lipsticks to the scientific test with the help of a powerful microscope and curious daughter. “I share a lot of my scientific explorations with my 11-year-old daughter, Katie, and it was actually her idea to do this," Oyler shared in an interview with Bustle. "I had just purchased a new microscope to replace my older lab scope, and she suggested we test it out by looking at some of my makeup under the lens. It turned out to be a brilliant suggestion, as we were both blown away by the beautiful array of colors, the bright crystal shapes, and the structure of the makeup we were seeing through the lens!"
So what do lipsticks really look like underneath a microscope? Damn beautiful. In fact, we say it's even more fun to glare at than a swatch test. Click ahead to see for yourself.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
If you’ve wondered how gloss gets its sheen, these broken down crystals are a big part of the answer. The deconstructed particles are called bismuth, and are responsible for that shiny, lacquer look we all search for in a lip gloss.

In nature, bismuth occur naturally, but when broken down inside a lab something even cooler happens: “It grows into these beautiful towers of iridescent cubes that shimmer with blue, black, purple, teal, pink, and green! This mineral, when used in lipsticks or lip glosses, gives it a pearly look, that can change color depending on where the light hits it,” she told Bustle.

Benefit Cosmetics Dandelion Ultra Plush, $16, available at Benefit Cosmetics.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
Why so many crystal colors, you ask? Think of it like this: “Just as an artist would blend a variety of colors on a painter's palette to create vibrant reds, pinks, blues, etc. for their masterpiece, so too, does a chemist blend a variety of pigments to come up with the perfect shade! In the case of corals, reds, purples, and pinks, there are a surprising number of blues and greens to give a subtle undertone to the overall color," Oyler explained.

Tarte LipSurgence in Decadence is no longer available.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
This classic Laura Geller favorite was a lipstick crayon with a slightly sheer finish.

Laura Geller Lasting Love Lip Stain in Pinot Noir is no longer available.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
If you’ve spotted the streaky bands, then you’ve seen the close-up of a matte finish. Satin lipsticks have a silky finish on the lips, so the formulation blends seamlessly together — replicating how the pigment will actually look on the lips: smooth, blended, and soft. Here, the oil, wax, and water mesh together without much differentiation since the lipstick is semi-matte.

Wet N Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Sugar Plum Fairy, $2.29, available at Walgreens.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
But for a matte lip, the bands are apparent underneath the microscope, mimicking how the pigment will sit and set on the lip.

Wet N Wild MegaLast Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick, $4.99, available at Wet N Wild.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
A lip product without much pigment and a lot of shine will look more like this.

Tarte Tarteist Glossy Lip Paints, $20, available at Tarte.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
From here you can see blue and purple pigments to make an iridescent shine.

Tarte LipSurgence Lip Gloss, $19, available at Tarte.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
This older gloss was the pinkest of all pinks with high-shine shimmer.

Ulta Beauty Sweet And Shimmer Gloss is no longer available.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
The more shimmer, the more pigments blended to create the unique color.

MUA Rose Gold Extreme Shimmer Lipstick is no longer available.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Scientific Mom.
We might actually consider printing these out and hanging on our walls — it's that pretty.

Tarte Cosmetics LipSurgence Lip Luster in Adored is no longer available.
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