How Many Swipes are in a Tube of Lipstick?

Birchbox recently released a blog post called “How Many Swipes Are in a Tube of Lipstick?”

To make their estimation, Birchbox took a sheet of white butcher paper and swiped four lipsticks in 50mm increments until they wore down their tubes to nothingness. They estimated that there were 293 swipes in the average tube of lipstick.


Although I appreciate their intrepid attempt to answer this question, I found their methodology to be dubious. When one applies lipstick, one does not go in a straight line, oblivious to the patchy white places and to the contours of one’s lips. You also would not press down nearly as hard when applying lipstick to your lips, as opposed to butcher paper.

Even more problematically, Birchbox did not specify the size of the lipsticks that they tested. In order to check their math, I picked up four random lipsticks off of my counter, and found that they ranged in size from 0.1oz to 0.15oz. That’s a really dramatic difference, and if you are calculating how many swipes are in a tube of lipstick, it’s pretty important not to exclude that information.

Their test is a cute idea, but almost certainly inaccurate.

I devised an alternative test. Using my handy-dandy accurate-to-the-milligram scale, I determined the mass of an application of lipstick using four lipsticks and five trials per lipstick. Using this average, I calculated the number of applications in a tube of lipstick based on the advertised mass of the product.

From left to right: Covergirl “Flame”, Revlon “In the Red”, MAC “Party Parrot”, NYX “Merlot”

Covergirl Lip Perfection – Flame (0.12oz)

Covergirl Flame

Trial 1: 0.008g
Trial 2: 0.010g
Trial 3: 0.006g
Trial 4: 0.008g
Trial 5: 0.008g
Mean: 0.008g
Number of swipes in the lipstick: 425

Revlon – In the Red (0.15oz)

Revlon In the Red

Trial 1: 0.011g
Trial 2: 0.006g
Trial 3: 0.007g
Trial 4: 0.006g
Trial 5: 0.008g
Mean: 0.008g
Number of swipes in the lipstick: 531

Mac – Party Parrot (0.1oz)

MAC Party Parrot

Trial 1: 0.010g
Trial 2: 0.010g
Trial 3: 0.009g
Trial 4: 0.007g
Trial 5: 0.006g
Mean: 0.008g
Number of swipes in the lipstick: 354

NYX – Merlot (0.14oz)

NYX Merlot

Trial 1: 0.006g
Trial 2: 0.006g
Trial 3: 0.008g
Trial 4: 0.008g
Trial 5: 0.008g
Mean: 0.007g
Number of swipes in the lipstick: 566

It seems that Birchbox’s numbers were an underestimate.

It also seems that applying and removing lipstick 20 times in a row is quite painful. I don’t recommend attempting this.

The mean is more-or-less 0.008g per application of lipstick, and that number seems to be pretty consistent. So, if you want to calculate how many applications are in your tube of lipstick, simply calculate the mass of the product in grams and divide by 0.008!


  1. Amy

    Hahaha that’s awesome! I heartily approve of your updated methodology 🙂 And now I reeeeally want to get a precise scale of my own…


    This is the scale that I have:

    It’s pretty limited, but I have been having fun with it!

  3. The Amalgam

    And this is only one of the reasons that you are my favourite beauty blogger.

  4. Katherine Atkins

    Thank you soooo much for doing this. I love your empirical(ish) approach to evaluating beauty claims and testing products. Can you make a “how many uses in your [whatever]” series? I would love to see this done for lip gloss, nail polish, eyeliner, etc.


    I could do that! How many manicures in a bottle of polish and the like?

  6. tania

    what an idea!

    i’d like to see about “how many swipes are in a pan of blush” .. maybe basically, how many g do you you everytime you swipe blush? 😀

    thanks for posting this anw.. 354 swipes is pretty hard to reach.


    That one’s been on my to-do list for a while! I’ll get it done soon.

  8. Julie

    Awesome idea! That’s equivalent of wearing the same lipstick everyday for a year, I guess that means I will never finish a tube of lipstick!

  9. Alyssa Halcom

    Well, this doesn’t account for reapplying throughout the day, which I would guess uses less product than your initial application.

  10. Rae A.

    This is great, I’m trying to find out how many lipstick tubes I can realistically use in a year and limit myself to that number of lipsticks at a time. This is awesome.

  11. Lena

    Well I’ve got at least 20 years worth of lipstick then!

  12. Jackie Shen

    The important thing in life is to have a great aim, and the determination to attain it.

  13. Jane Lawler

    Thanks so much for this wonderful post! Please note I’ve referenced your test on my blog (and included a link), since I’m writing a related post : ).