would you like bugs with that?
With your lipstick, that is. Actually, not with... we’re talking crushed beetles - in your lipstick. Sound yuck? It sure gives us the ick!
Unfortunately, many of us have been smooshing insects on our lips our entire life. That’s because one of the most popular red colouring additives for lipstick is carmine, which is made from crushed bugs.
The bugs in question are cochineal. Native to South America, these insects are farmed in Peru and crushed to create the red dye. The dye is then added to lipsticks to create bright reds and other red-tinged shades. (You’ll also find it in food such as ice cream, cupcakes, and berry pies.)
While cochineal-derived carmine is technically a “natural” product rather than a chemical, it’s still an animal by-product. It can take up to 70,000 female cochineals to produce just 500g of carmine dye. Not only does this raise ethical considerations about the products (these insects are specifically farmed in order to be crushed), it’s also a bit yucky.
After all, who actually wants to smoosh and smear crushed bugs on their lips?
hiding in plain sight! (btw, we can see you)
The other problem with colourings like carmine and similar animal by-products is that all too often, the beauty industry hides these ingredients in plain sight on their labelling.
“Cochineal extract” and “carmine” are pretty clear now that you know what they are. If your lipstick is labelled with either of these, it contains crushed bugs, but the manufacturers are at least being honest about it.
However, if your lipstick ingredients include “CI 75470”, “crimson lake”, or “natural red 4” then you’re also smooshing crushed insects on your lips – all while your cosmetic company tries to pretend like you’re not.
what's the alternative?
If you’re as freaked out about the idea of smooshing bugs on your lips as we are, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favourite lippie shades. Instead, you can choose natural, non-animal-derived alternatives.
Now we’ll be honest with you – finding these natural, vegan ingredients isn’t easy. But at NEEK Skin Organics, we’ve been doing this for years, so we’re getting good at it.
Our lipstick colours are created using natural micas and pigments. It can be tricky formulating and replicating chemical colours, but we’ve got the hang of it now. In fact, we’re up to 12 gorgeous lippie shades – and counting! Shades that are glossy, bright, bold, and entirely crushed-bug-free.
a final top tip!
If you’ve ever been bamboozled by less-than-straightforward ingredients lists on your makeup (or your food), you’re not alone.
Thankfully, however, there’s an easy solution. Let us introduce one of our favourite apps: Chemical Maze.
With Chemical Maze, you can enter the scientific name for any ingredient you want to explore, and the app will give you a safety rating and let you know if the ingredient is derived from animals, plants, or chemicals. Win-win.
Check out our beetle-free, chemical-free lipstick range here