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How Many Swipes Are in a Tube of Lipstick?: Beauty Hacks

Welcome to Beauty Hacks, a new column dedicated to examining beauty through an unexpected (slightly nerdy) lens. Why deny our techie roots and long-abiding love of all things science? From breaking down how long a lipstick tube really lasts to getting to the bottom of the so-called golden ratio, we’re taking a data-based approach. We can’t wait to see what we uncover.

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Considering how many red, pink, orange, purple, and nude lipsticks we own, it’s a surprise that it’s taken us this long to ask ourselves: how many swipes are really in a tube of lipstick? (After all, we’ve never forgotten the classic Tootsie Pop commercial.) To kick off our Beauty Hacks series, we decided to tackle this age-old question.

First step: design a (mostly) scientific experiment that would allow us to accurately measure the swipes. After copious online researching, we discovered that the average length of the female lip is 50mm (more on that below). We grabbed several large pieces of white butcher paper and swiped four different cream lipsticks from two drugstore brands in 50mm increments (we used a ruler for accuracy) to see how long it took to get to the bottom of a tube.

The results surprised us. Think you might know the answer? Take a guess, mentally log your number and read on to find out the results!

But before we reveal the answer, a few words on our methodology. (See, we were paying attention in science class!)

  1. We realize paper doesn’t have the exact same consistency as your lip, but this was the quickest—and cleanest!—way to reach the bottom of each tube.
  2. We tried to press as hard as we typically would when applying lipstick, but we know this differs from person to person and therefore this number is skewed towards our preference for color intensity.
  3. We found the average lip length by actually measuring the lips of a dozen Birchbox team members and compared it against this number we came across online.  

Now, drumroll please!

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Our intrepid intern Bre led the charge in swiping. Here’s what one tube’s worth of color looks like. Does it remind anyone else of DNA gels from high school biology?

After hours of researching and over 1000 swipes of 50mm each, we found that the average number of swipes in a tube of lipstick was 293. That means, if you applied your lipstick three times per day, every day, you would run out just past the three month mark. Pretty good if you ask us! We can’t remember the last time that we actually got to the bottom of a tube on our own—we have trouble committing to just one shade for that long! But if we did stick with one color, at least we’d be able to make room in our makeup bags for the next season’s must-have shade. 

Did you guess right? How many did you think it would be? 

—Bre

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