Introducing: Carmine. Crushed and boiled insects used by cosmetic companies!

This Little Thing Called Carmine, Well, Sometimes.

A few years ago I discovered a secret ingredient found mainly in lipstick, but also in many other

products that are coloured red. I realize this probably sounds like the opening of the Powerpuff

Girls where they discover the mysterious “Chemical X”, but this is indeed a true story. This pigment is called

“Carmine”, but it goes by many other names. The thing is, some people are familiar with what this ingredient

contains, so companies have to come up with other generic names for the compound which are more

difficult to recognize. Some of the other names to look out for are: cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson

lake or carmine lake, natural red 4, C.I, 75470, or E120.

What On Earth Is This Ingredient I Am Marina    ting My Lips In?

Instead of beating around the bush like companies enjoy doing, I will give it to you straight. The red dye you

find in many of your cosmetics is made of crushed and boiled insects. Quite a shock, right? Well, the

information is readily available and has been in front of you, just in disguise. Still don’t believe me? Simply

Google it or check Wikipedia :

“..The powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in an ammonia or sodium carbonate

solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt

solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt, called “carmine lake” or “crimson lake” (the

lake here deriving from the word lac, referring to a resinous  secretion). Carmine may also be prepared from

cochineal, by boiling dried insects

in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum. Use of

these chemicals causes the colouring and  animal matters present in the liquid to be

precipitated to give a lake pigment. Other methods for the production of carmine dye

are in use, in which egg white, fish glue, or gelatine is sometimes added before the


Always Be On The Lookout!

Carmine may be used in any products which appear red, pink or purple ranging from cosmetics

to yogurt. This means that you should get in the habit of reading your labels carefully and

educating yourself on the ingredients you are about to consume. There are some great

applications out there that can be utilized to help you look up ingredients efficiently, such as:

“Think Dirty” for cosmetics or “Fooducate” for food. Sometimes 100 percent natural can still include dead

bugs.While trying to lead an “All Natural” life is important, sometimes labels can be deceiving. For

instance, if you are a customer seeking to lead a healthy lifestyle which also helps the

environment and happen to see a lipstick that states it is all natural or nontoxic, you may think

there is a better chance of that lipstick being a “good” choice compared to others. Well, if you

don’t enjoy the idea of applying dead insect secretion to your lips or think it is helpful to the

environment, it is important to read the label on every product you buy and take the marketing

buzzwords with a grain of salt.


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