Photo of three Clove + Hallow lip velvet lipsticks against white background

We tried it: Switching to natural lipstick.

Last Updated: May 4, 2021

How does natural lipstick compare to conventional lipstick? Can it survive meatloaf, mask-wearing, and making out? Grove writer, Mackenzie Sanford, tried it and is here to report if natural lipstick holds up.

I’m a lipstick junkie. Sticks, stains, glosses, and balms — you name it — if it’s cruelty-free and made to go on my mouth, I’ll wear it.

But when it comes to finding a lipstick that’s both animal-friendly and lasts, the struggle is real. So I was super excited to try Clove + Hallow Lip Velvet, a cruelty-free, vegan brand founded by a professional makeup artist with a passion for clean beauty.

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The claim: Clove + Hallow offers long-wearing, moisturizing lip color

Photo of red Clove + Hallow lip velvet lipstick with white background and gold sparkles

All of Clove + Hallow’s cosmetics are 100 percent vegan and contain 15 or fewer safe, natural ingredients. The Lip Velvet contains 13 ingredients, including organic plant oils, waxes, and pigments.

The company claims that their lipsticks are long-lasting and hydrating — a claim also commonly made by even the most drying lipsticks that practically require paint thinner to remove. So I’m here to tell you how Lip Velvet held up to those lofty expectations.

The experience: How does natural lipstick hold up?

Photo of woman smiling

Meatloaf and making out

The first time I tried the Clove + Hallow Lip Velvet was at 9pm on a rainy Sunday, when I was fixing to head over to my ex-boyfriend’s house for some meatloaf (no, that’s not a euphemism — he really made meatloaf.)

I opted for the color “Fiesta,” which is a gorgeous, bright cherry red. As soon as I put it on, I understood why they call it a “lip velvet.” It’s velvety, luscious, and glides on like a dream with a doe-foot applicator. The texture starts out creamy and quickly dries to a matte finish without making your lips feel like they’re drying and tightening up. This is thanks to heroic ingredients like jojoba oil, argan oil, and vitamin E that keep your lips soft all day long.

Photo of woman wearing scarf over head

After eating the meatloaf, kissing his dogs, and kissing him, I’m happy to say that it held up pretty well — but sorry to say I didn’t remember to snap a pic later that night. But the next morning, I woke up late for a brunch date with my mom and sister and barely had time to brush my teeth, let alone apply any makeup, but it was fine! There was still a rosy tint left on my lips, and if that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

Image: The next day, post-meatloaf and post-make out. Faint, but good enough for brunch.

All-day mask-wearing

Photo of woman wearing lipstick

For my second test, I wore it to work. I moonlight as a sales girl at a vintage shop a couple days a week, which gets me out of the house and gives me first dibs on sweet threads. I often put lipstick on, even if my mouth is going to be covered by a mask — I just feel better knowing that under a thick layer of antibacterial cotton, I look good. Unfortunately, by the end of the work day, my perfect pout is usually coating the inside of my mask instead of my lips.

To really test the limits of this lipstick, I snuck some yogurt under my mask between customers, drank an iced coffee through a straw, tried and failed to flirt with a customer who looked exactly like Timothèe Chalamet, and jammed out to Billy Idol after-hours (mask on).

Six hours later, and it’s faded to that sultry “just bitten” look that was super popular in the early aughts — and to be honest, I’ve never stopped loving it. There wasn’t any transfer to my mask, either –– once this stuff goes on, it ain’t comin’ off until you want it to.

Just a normal day at home

Photo of woman wearing lipstick

For my last experiment, I wanted to see how the lip velvet held up on a normal day — no meatloaf, no man-lips, no mask. I put it on when I rolled out of bed around 10:00 a.m. and went about my usual business.

I ate a lot of snacks, drank my weight in coffee, called my mom, and went for a walk. Took a nap or two, did some dishes, and buried my face in my cat every now and then for a mood boost. By the time I was ready to retire around midnight, my lipstick looked just as good as it did when I first put it on. Whoever tells you that natural lipstick just doesn’t have the staying power of big-name conventional brands needs to try Clove + Hallow Lip Velvet.

The verdict: Natural lipstick lasts just as long as conventional lipstick

I don’t know about all natural lipsticks, but the many I’ve tried are comparable to conventional when it comes to wear. This particular lip-lovin’ variety stays on forever and fades into a nice popsicle stain.

The color is fashionable and bright, and I love that it's cruelty-free and vegan. I really like this lipstick and have already added it to my regular rotation — I’m wearing it now!

Ten out of 10, I would buy it in another shade — Sugarbear Lip Velvet looks like the juicy berry jam that luscious-lip dreams are made of.

Quick facts about lipstick ingredients

What are the harmful ingredients in conventional lipstick?

Conventional lipstick is made with all sorts of horrifying ingredients, including:

  • Carmine — a.k.a. Natural Red 4 — is a red colorant sourced from the carcasses of cochineal beetles (70,000 beetles must be crushed to produce one pound of dye.)
  • Tallow is rendered animal fat and is responsible for the oily residue left behind by some lipsticks.
  • Heavy metals like lead, nickel, arsenic, aluminum, and cadmium are found in colorants that begin with “Ci,” “Red,” “Blue,” “Yellow,” “Violet,” and “Green.”
  • Petroleum and mineral oils, which can cause inflammation and allergies.
  • Harmful preservatives like BHA and BHT.

    • What ingredients are in natural lipsticks?

      Natural lipstick ingredients are plant-based, ultra-hydrating, and safe for your lips and your body. They include:

      • Organic waxes, oils, and plant butters like beeswax, cocoa butter, avocado butter, and coconut oil for soft, supple lips.
      • Safe preservatives, such as rosemary or elderberry extract, vitamin E, and jojoba esters.
      • Fruit pigments, which are vibrant colors derived from berries, plums, pomegranate and other fruity delights.
      • Non-toxic flavoring and scents, including vanilla and fruit extracts.
Photo of woman in bed holding mug

About the author: Mackenzie Sanford is a writer and musician making questionable decisions in the Midwest. She’s been writing for Grove since 2020.

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