After using the NYX Matte Liquid Lingerie Lipsticks for about five years (Exotic color), I decided to try another version they had and I ended up having a reaction! I had to get my magnifying glass out to see the tiny size 7 font that lists that they added Benzyl salicylate (!!!) to their formula. In this video, I will go over some of the ingredients that are okay, questionable, and safe in the two tubes. This is an exercise in basic chemistry while looking at something fun like lipstick.

Overall, my skin is not very reactive. I rarely get rashes from my skin coming into contact with an ingredient, even if it contains salicylates. Normally, my reactions are systemic, meaning my skin will absorb the salicylate that goes into my bloodstream, and it affects me from within. Reactions can vary for me from sneezing, itchiness, heart palpitations, breathing issues, swelling (anywhere, not necessarily where I applied it) or hives. This time, I got back pain and dystonia muscle contractions about 3-5 minutes after trying the lipstick.

In the future I will get into the chemistry of salicylates, but I am still working through some of it. I see the basics like this:

  • All salicylates are phenols, but not all phenols are salicylates
  • Benzoates are very similar to salicylates, and are phenols, but not all phenols are benzoates (some people react to benzoates too)
  • All phenols, salicylates, and benzoates contain a benzene ring functional group - but not all benzene rings are salicylates or benzoates.
  • A benzene (functional group) is an aromatic ring but not all aromatics contain odor (in chemistry aromatic doesn't mean smelly - although it did once upon a time). Benzenes have a six-sided carbon ring with three double bonds. Not all aromatics are benzene rings. I mention the aromatics/odor thing because if you're fragrance sensitive, I don't want you think you're allergic to all "aromatics" because the words don't mean the same thing in normal English and chemistry-English.
  • Phenols are EXTREMELY diverse and important in life. Most salicylate sensitive people are not sensitive to all phenols. They include tocopherols, flavonoids, antioxidants, fragrances, salicylates, benzoates, antiseptics, serotonin, adrenaline, azo dyes, and more. This is a nice introduction from Brittanica if you want to read more on phenols. Tylenol, acetaminophen, is a pain medicine generally well-tolerated by people with aspirin or salicylate sensitivity, and it contains a phenol. Some people say they are phenol sensitive.
  • While we'redigging in - organic refers to a molecular formula with a carbon backbone and covalent bonding. It has nothing to do with food, nor how food is grown. Again, normal commercial/marketing-English and chemistry-English are using the same word to describe two completely different things. ALL inorganic chemicals (use ionic bonding) are completely free of salicylates/phenols/benzenes.


NYX Lingerie Matte Liquid Lipstick - Color Exotic #LIPLI12

This has been one of my go-to lipsticks for years. I never reacted to it when I had switched to low-sal, so I never bothered reading the ingredients or replacing it. Looks like it is pretty safe, but test cautiously.

If you are anaphylaxis to salicylates in very small amounts, sensitive to amines, or sensitive to salicylates on contact with skin, the first lipstick is probably not the best item to experiment with. I'm true to the name of my website/channel which is low-salicylate... not zero-salicylate.
Items with an asterisk* contain a benzene ring or phenol.

  • Isododecane - not a phenol/salicylate
  • Mineral Oil - generally safe and considered low-salicylate
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate - not a phenol/salicylate
  • Disteardimonium Hectorite  - not a phenol/salicylate
  • Polycyclopentadiene   - not a phenol/salicylate (cyclopentadine is a five-sided carbon structure)
  • *Tocopheryl Acetate - ATA - a form of vitamin E. Contains a benzene ring, but isn't considered a salicylate
  • Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil - generally safe and considered low-salicylate
  • *Tocopherol - broad class of methylated phenols that includes vitamin E
  • Alumina  - not a phenol/salicylate
  • Barium Sulfate (CI 77120)  - not a phenol/salicylate
  • *Phenoxyethanol - contains a phenol, but shouldn't be considered a salicylate (used as an antiseptic/anti-microbial)
  • Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891),  - not a phenol/salicylate
  • Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Inorganic (no carbons)   - not a phenol/salicylate
  • *Red 6 (CI 15850)/Red 7 (CI 15850) - contains phenols - may not be well tolerated; Possibly contains a sodium salicylate in there???? Hard to tell.
  • *Blue 1 Lake (CI 42090) - contains 4 phenols, but none look like salicylates


NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream - Color Cannes - DO NOT USE, CONTAINS SALICYLATES

I was really excited about the color of this lipstick but had a reaction right away. I didn't realize they actually added benzyl salicylate in it. This is why reading labels every time is so important, even when buying from a brand you trust and have used for years.

I didn't look up every ingredient, but I did look up a few that caught my attention which are in bold.

  • Isohexadecane,
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate,
  • Disteardimonium Hectorite,
  • Dimethicone,
  • Beeswax
  • Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate,
  • Talc,
  • Cyclopentasiloxane,
  • Propylene Carbonate,
  • Silica,
  • Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer (not a phenol)
  • Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate,
  • Dimethicone Crosspolymer,
  • *Rosin/Colophonium/Colophane, Contains a phenol/benzene ring. From plant Rhodiola rosea
  • Barium Sulfate (CI 77120),
  • *Phenoxyethanol - contains a phenol, but shouldn't be considered a salicylate (used as an antiseptic/anti-microbial)
  • *Flavor/Aroma
  • *Benzyl Alcohol,
  • *Benzyl Benzoate - contains two benzene rings - may be a problem, although not technically a salicylate
  • ***Benzyl Salicylate - definitely a problem!
  • *Hexyl Cinnamal - contains a benzene ring, from oil of chamomile.
  • Hydroxycitronellal. Citronellal does not contain a benzene ring - good to know!
  • Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891),
  • Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499),
  • Manganese Violet (CI 77742), inorganic
  • *Yellow 6 Lake (CI 15985), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), contains benzene rings
  • *Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 7 (CI 15850) - contains benzene rings - may not be well tolerated; Possibly contains a sodium salicylate in there???? Hard to tell.
  • *Red 28 Lake (CI 45410) - contains benzene rings 


Thanks for joining me on this chemistry journey today!

I am building out a list of chemicals/additive that are NOT salicylates/phenols/benzenes on the food page. That way if you see it in vitamins or in a lipstick or something, you can easily get an idea if you should worry about it or not.