Animal Byproducts in my Makeup?

March 18, 2010

I was talking to a friend earlier and telling her about the “journey” I’ve recently embarked on – to be more aware what is actually in the products I use, to think about my impact on the environment, and just to live more consciously in general. I told her that I’ve done a lot of research lately, and was surprised by what I’ve learned, because I honestly did not know that so many body products contain toxins. She agreed, and then told me that makeup has many of the same toxins, as well as animal byproducts. (Long pause.)

What are you talking about? Animal byproducts? In my makeup? I mean, we’ve probably all heard the rumor/myth/fact(?) that lipstick contains whale blubber. Shoot, I think I heard that back when I was a teenager, oh so many moons ago. I didn’t give it much thought though, since I didn’t even wear makeup at that point. Then when I did, years later, I honestly forgot. Didn’t even cross my mind that makeup might contain animal bits. Again, not sure why I’m surprised. If the unregulated cosmetics industry will put toxic ingredients in our makeup, then why not animal byproducts as well? And what does that even mean? Animal byproducts? And do I even want to know?

Well according to Wikipedia (I know, I know – not always the most reliable source), animal byproducts are: biodegradable wastes consisting of animal carcases, parts of animal carcases, and products of animal origin which are not intended for human consumption.[1] Oink. I don’t want that in my makeup! Because I’m sorry, if I were walking down the street and happened to see a pile of animal byproduct on the ground, I certainly wouldn’t smear it all over my face and lips! But apparently that’s what I’m doing when I put on my makeup. Greeeat. I guess now I need to replace my makeup as well.

In my research about animal byproducts in makeup, I learned that cochineal beetles (dactylopius coccus) are commonly used in things that have a red pigment (lipsticks, rouge, even some food!) The beetles are boiled, steamed, or cooked, and then ground up. On an ingredient list it will be referred to as: cochineal, carmine, carminic acid, crimson lake, natural red #40, or E120.

Of course carmine is just one of several ingredients to look for. PETA has compiled a list of the animal byproducts that are most commonly used.[2] Oh and one more thing I learned – just because a makeup brand/company does not test on animals, does not mean their products do not contain animal ingredients. Those are two separate things.


References: [1], [2]

Image Source: Roemer, Molly. “Gross Ingredients.” Photo. Jul. 2010. 14 Mar. 2011. <>.

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