Can Retinol-Infused Lipsticks Anti-Age Your Pout?

From chlorophyll water to cryo-globes, there are more skin-care trends circling the charts than we’re able to keep up with. However, when Avon announced the launch of their new Cashmere Essence Lipcream ($22), we were captivated by the fact that the lipstick was formulated with retinol. Right away, we had one major question come to mind: Why isn’t this more commonplace? As it turns out, there are a few other lipsticks that are formulated with the gold standard, but with this new launch as a catalyst, we think the ingredient will pop up in our lip products more often. Ahead, industry professionals break down everything we need to know about retinol in our lipstick formulas, and whether or not it’s an essential in our lip-care routines.

Skin is Skin

Retinol, also known as vitamin A, is famous for promoting firmer skin, fewer fine lines and an overall glowier complexion. But, admittedly, the initial thought of retinol in lipstick made us a bit uneasy: if it’s notorious for making the skin a bit dry and sensitive, won’t it do the same to the lips? According to Studio City, CA dermatologist Gene Rubinstein, MD, while retinol will exfoliate the lips, it actually doesn’t thin the lips or make them flake. Instead, “it flattens and smooths the superficial layer, which helps correct the dry, cracked skin of the lip instead of make it worse.” He also adds that due to retinol’s ability to stimulate collagen production, “it aids in the rejuvenation of the skin.”

The Big Difference

While Dr. Rubinstein explains retinol’s ability to improve the appearance of the lips, New York dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD offers a few disclaimers. “Prescription retinoic acid can be very irritating to the lips and application should be avoided. However, gentle retinol formulations, like plant-derived bio-retinol or bakuchiol, are safe, act as humectants, and can draw moisture into the skin of the lips, therefore giving your pout a more youthful appearance.” Other sources of plant-based retinol to look for on your product labels are sunflower seed, sea buckthorn, carrot and rosehip seed oils.

Color marketing director of Avon Eva Lau breaks down the difference between a prescription-strength retinol and a bio-retinol, the main ingredient in Avon’s new lipsticks. “The biggest trend we have been seeing for some time is makeup infused with skin-care ingredients and benefits. By using a lipstick infused with a plant-based alternative to retinol, like bio-retinol, you can keep early signs of aging and volume loss at bay without the harsh irritation—think redness, flakiness, and sensitivity—of a conventional retinol.” But, even if you’re using a gentle retinol on the lips, Dr. Rubinstein says it’s important to pair it with a sunscreen or a sunscreen lip balm year-round.

Age Defier

Lau explains that the lips are where we see some of the earliest signs of aging with volume loss and fine lines creeping in over time. As such, Dr. Markowitz notes that retinol is the perfect place to start for prevention. “Retinoic acid helps build up the thickness and strength of the dermal layer of skin and therefore helps prevent wrinkling,” she says, and Dr. Rubenstien agrees: “Because retinol also aids in the rejuvenation of the skin, it’s ideal for reducing the fine lines characteristic of aging lips.

The New Wave

Below, four anti-aging lipsticks that work double time to perfect our pouts.


Avon Cashmere Essence Lipcream ($22)

Infused with a bio-retinol core along with meadowfoam seed oil and vitamin E, Avon’s new lipstick comes in 10 different high-shine hues and wraps the lips in kissable comfort. Plus, the added wrinkle-reducer doesn’t hurt.


Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick ($27)

Known for its patented Volulip, which claims to give the lips a fuller appearance, Elizabeth Arden stepped outside of the box with this formula by adding vitamin A to help keep the pout looking moisturized and healthy.


Rare Beauty Lip Souffle Matte Cream Lipstick ($20)

Also infused with sunflower seed oil, this matte cream formula glides on the lips in one swipe and stays on all throughout the day. The result: a bright, luscious pout.

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