Carmine on my lips? No, thanks! Maybe the image is a little extreme but that’s what I think of when I think about putting on lipstick that contains Carmine. I just can’t bring myself to do it.
So, what is Carmine? Carmine is a red pigment made from crushing the female cochineal insect which is native to South America & Mexico and which lives as a parasite on cactus plants. According to peta2, around 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce approximately 450g of this stuff. Yikes!
What’s it used for? It’s used as a colourant in the food, textile and cosmetics industry. Why don’t I like it? Firstly, according to the Cosmetics Safety Database, it has been associated with severe allergic reactions and, secondly, it is just too gross! It’s used in food and drinks but what’s really interesting is that many natural makeup brands are quite happy to use this ingredient in their cosmetics simply because it gives gorgeous colour to lipstick, blushes, eye shadows and the like. And, surprisingly, many organic beauty stores are happy to stock cosmetics with Carmine in them. Ok, so you might not be able to get your uber-bright ‘fire engine red’ lipstick - like the one in the image - without it, but you can still have gorgeous coloured cosmetics without the Carmine. You only have to look at brands like Inika Organic and Miessence to see that it is possible to create beautiful cosmetics without Carmine. It’s your choice. For my part, I’m more than happy to use cosmetics without it and I don’t intend to stock makeup that includes it.
If, like me, you’re concerned about this ingredient, check your labels for any of the following names: Carmine (Coccus Cacti L.); Carmine 5297; Carmine Ultra-Fine, Carminic Acid; Carminic Acid Lake; Natural Red 4; B Rose Liquid and CI 75470.