You can put lipstick on a pig, pit bull, or hockey mom...It's still lipstick.  Irrespective of your political inclinations, you simply know when you've come across the perfect lipstick.  In my case, it is one that does not look, feel, or taste like lipstick, but provides moisturizing benefits and lasting power.  I discovered this elusive specimen in tarte's Vitamin-Infused Lipstick.

Tarte's whimsical take on traditional makeup has earned the brand a loyal following, of which I count myself a long-standing member.  I have been a customer of tarte ever since a saleswoman on the ground floor of Henri Bendel plied me with cheekstain ten years ago.  After that eye-opening moment, I never went back to old-school blush.  If any makeup line could make me a lipstick convert, I knew that it would be tarte.

As a byproduct of a partnership with BORBA in 2007, tarte infused BORBA's "nutraceuticals" into their lipglosses, drawing on ingredients that boost the skin's well-being both inside and out.  This vitamin-infused blend was extended to their lipsticks last fall.  The first of its kind, tarte's lipstick goes beyond turning out a pretty pout; it conveys invigorating benefits to the delicate skin of the lips.  Though the bulky, latticed purple packaging might not be to everyone's liking, it's what is inside that counts.

As the name implies, the lipstick is jam-packed with vitamins: A to retain moisture and promote collagen production, C to fight free radical damage and relieve oxidative stress, and E to work as an anti-inflammatory emollient.  Jojoba seed oil makes lips feel soft and supple, while shea butter helps retain skin elasticity.  There are quite a few excellent botanical extracts disguised under their taxonomic names: camellia is a green tea extract rich in antioxidants; euterpe oleracea is acai berry extract, which helps fight free radicals and promotes cell regeneration; chamomilla is an extract from the chamomille plant which is known for its healing properties.

There are three unique yoga-inspired shades launching this fall called Hatha, Bikram, and Vinyasa, which complement the current collection of Revive, Sweet Dreams, and Zen vitamin-infused lipsticks ($22 each).  The original formulas contain the unfortunate preservative propylparaben, which should be generally avoided due to its unnerving incidence in breast tumor tissue, and butylate hydroxytoluene (BHT), which is potentially toxic to the immune, respiratory, and neurologic systems.

Though tarte has rightly eliminated these evils in the next generation of lipsticks, the new formula is not entirely benign.  The paraben has been replaced with a common cosmetic preservative called phenoxyethanol.  It seems rather risky to put in a lipstick an ingredient that could be harmful if swallowed or absorbed.  Nonetheless, it is a noticeable improvement from the original, and I am going to overlook the occasional flaw since everything else in tarte's lipstick makes my lips smile.

Ingredients in (1st generation) Sweet Dreams*

A portion of the proceeds from this shade will be donated to the Young Survival Coalition during the month of October.

Octyldodecanol, isohexadecane, phenyl trimethicone, trioctyldodecyl citrate, glyceryl triacetyl hydroxystearate, ricinus communis (castor) oil seed, candelilla cera , ozokerite, octyldodecyl neopentanoate, silica, polyethylene, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, VP/eicosene, copolymer, cera alba, cera carnauba, kaolin, polymethylsilsesquioxane, tridecyl trimellitate, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, cetyl ricinoleate, phenyl methyl siloxane, trimethylpentaphenyl trisiloxane, propylparaben, tocopheryl, ascorbyl palmitate, BHT, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) extract, magnesium carbonate, vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract, dipotassium phosphate, ascorbic acid, niacinamide, retinyl palmitate, dicalcium sulfate dihydrate, euterpe oleracea fruit oil, camellia sinensis leaf extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower/leaf extract. (+/-): Titanium dioxide (CI 77891), red 6 lake (CI 15850:2), yellow 5 lake (CI 19140:1), yellow 6 lake (CI 15985:1), red 7 lake (CI 15850:1), blue 1 lake (CI 42092:2), iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)

Ingredients in (new) Bikram:

Bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate-2, hydrogenated polyisobutene, cetyl ethylhexanoate, polyethylene, triisostearin, polybutene, octydodecanol, candelilla cera, ricinus communis oil, tocopheryl acetate, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) extract, phenoxyethanol, magnesium carbonate, vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract, dipotassium phosphate, ascorbic acid, niacinamide, retinyl palmitate, calcium sulfate, euterpe oleracea fruit oil, camellia sinesis leaf extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower/leaf extract, mica (+/-): tin oxide (CI 77861), titanium dioxide (CI77891), red 21 lake (CI 45380), red 6 lake (CI 15850), iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77499), yellow 5 lake, (CI 19140), carmine (CI 75470), red 28 lake (CI 45410), red 40 lake (CI 16035)