Gallery: Guess What? Crushed Red Bugs Are in Your Lipstick, Too

eco-friendly lipsticks, sustainable lipsticks, cochineal beetles, carmine, natural dyes, all-natural dyes, eco-beauty, eco-friendly beauty, sustainable beauty, natural beauty, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

Photo by Shutterstock

Ground-up bug carcasses aren’t unique to Starbucks Strawberries & Crème Frappuccinos and red velvet whoopee pies. Cochineal extract, derived from the remains of a parasitic beetle native to Mexico and South America, was used as a coloring agent as early as the 15th century, particularly in textiles. What’s less widely known, however is that cochineal is just as ubiquitous in cosmetics, where it’s listed as “carmine,” “natural red 4,” or “crimson lake.” Although the dye is known to cause severe allergic reactions (with or without the gag reflex), the alternative isn’t coal tar or other janky petrochemicals. Below, a selection of eco-friendly brands that achieve their reds through a combination of minerals (iron and mica oxides) and plant extracts (annatto, beets, turmeric, and saffron)—no bugging out necessary.

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3 Responses to “Guess What? Crushed Red Bugs Are in Your Lipstick, Too”

  1. Elle says:

    Have people been living under a rock for the past 100 years? I’m not understanding how anybody who eats meat, is bothered by some dye from a bug. This stuff is in a ton of your food, and if you eat processed foods you have bigger things to worry about. This dye doesn’t phase me one bit, I still went to starbucks this morning and drank my passiontea lemonade. I eat my meat medium, if i can consume a bit of beef blood i’m sure some dye from a big will not be a big deal? Do people realize how many bugs they will consume in their lifetime from veggies, and foods processed in food factories? This has been known for years, and I guess social media is the only reason why it’s spreading like wildfire. So put the yogurts down, candies anything pink or red, because 9 times out of 10 the dye is there, including make up. I’m sorry I just don’t see what the hoopla is all about. I get it’s a bug and in the states bugs are considered nasty, but i’m sorry in other parts of the world people are still surviving as generation eating bugs, spiders, and worms on purpose. Get over it.

  2. elle says:

    This doesn’t bother me one bit, seeing that i eat steak medium a bit of bug dye hasn’t killed me so far, people in certain parts of the world eats critters for their diet and they are still healtier then we are, lol, this isn’t new news to me. It’s been floating around that this dye is used in a lot of foods, and honestly by the time they get the dye out, there isn’t a piece of the bug in there. I don’t know i really think people are making a big deal out of this, when we still keep these places that process food and strip all of the good things out of it in business. There are so many preservatives in food, and parents are feeding it to their kids, and here people are in an uproar because the dye they used is actually natural, and contains no chemicals.

    I’m going to keep drinking my Passion Tea, and using my lipsticks, because I have bigger things to worry about like the hormones in my milk/chicken/steak/and pesticides on my fruit and veggies, GMO corn, GMO everything.

  3. vcastro says:

    There’s nothing wrong with cochineal as a dye.

    The wording is deceiving; cochineal is “parasitic” to CACTUSES and it has been used for thousands of years as a natural dye for textiles and also for body adornment. If you use a lipstick with Cochineal, you are wearing an Aztec lipstick. That’s pretty cool!

    Besides, these are not the insects that sit on your dog’s shit. They have been carefully bred and farmed for millines as a safe and potent NATURAL DYE.

    It is the brightest naturally occurring color in the world! And stronger then lots of synthetic dyes. Chemicals are much more harmful then some fat little vegan bugs.

    The use of this bug is a step in the right direction to creating better, safer, and more natural means for turning anything red.

    Read The Perfect Red by Amy Buttler Greenfield. It’s a great book that tells the history of this misunderstood bug.

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