Crushed Red Bugs in Your Lipstick: Would You Still Wear It?

After a section of the food industry, the cosmetics business has also confirmed that they have been using cochineal coloring in their products. This cochineal extract is derived from the dried female of a parasitic beetle. In cosmetics it is listed as carmine, natural red 4 or crimson lake.

Studies show that ever since the 15th century, the cochineal dye has been popular. In Aztec and Mayan populations of Central andSouth America, this dye has been used in textiles.  At present, this pigment is used in everything from cosmetics to pop tarts.

Scientists have now confirmed that this cochineal dye can be a reason for skin and respiratory irritations. A link between the dye and asthmatic attacks has been proved beyond doubt!

For those who came in late, let’s remind you that Starbucks had recently admitted that their strawberry drinks and Crème Frappuciccinos contain cochineal extracts. It is estimated that for producing one pound of red dye almost 70,000 beetles were required.

At the same time, manufacturers argue that using cochineal helps them in moving away from artificial color. In order to avoid this cochineal dye, many eco-friendly brands have now begun using minerals like iron and mica oxides and colors from plant extracts like annatto, red beets, turmeric, and saffron. This in fact does away with the reliance on the hapless beetle.


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