What Is Carmine In Makeup, And Why Can't You Use It If You're Vegan?

With all the new and trendy lines of cosmetics currently on the market and always evolving, one big trend is vegan makeup. It may not immediately make sense since the thought of makeup doesn't usually stir up thoughts of meat or animals. However, makeup can have some surprising ingredients.

Thankfully, many makeup companies have embraced the cruelty-free era, but that differs from being vegan-friendly. Make-up that is coined cruelty-free means that neither the finished product nor any ingredient was tested on animals.

However, although makeup that was not tested on animals in laboratories might be labeled cruelty-free, it may still contain some animal derivatives. In order for makeup to be deemed vegan-friendly, it must not contain any animal parts at all. Yet sometimes there is just one ingredient in a makeup product that would bar it from being vegan-friendly, so it's important to check the labels on your makeup very carefully.

Carmine is often found in lipstick

A common ingredient often found in lipstick is carmine, which many vegans may be familiar with since it is a hidden ingredient in many products. According to L'Oréal Paris, carmine is a dye mixture of carmine acid salt and crushed insects known as cochineals.

These insects have been used to make red dye for hundreds of years. The female insects have the cochineal extract extrapolated from them which is mixed with the salt from carmine acid. Astoundingly, to make just one pound of carmine, 70,000 insects need to be added.

Today cosmetics companies rely heavily on using carmine in their product line, particularly in red, pink, and orange lipsticks and blushes. Carmine is also used as a common red food dye and is found in many things from bakery goods to coffee flavors. Even mega company Starbucks has used it in the past but has since stopped due to public outcry.

Vegan-friendly makeup

To determine whether your makeup contains this animal product, search the ingredient list for carmine, cochineal extract, or natural red 4. Carmine is used in several popular makeup brands including L'Oreal, Maybelline, Chanel, YSL, and Burt's Bees.

If you are vegan or thinking about becoming vegan, there are some buzzwords in ingredient lists to be aware of since they can hide or mask the animal products in them. Besides carmine, other sneaky ingredients in beauty products that contain animal matter are keratin, collagen, casein, glycerin, lactic acid, and retinol. If you're not sure whether the ingredients in your makeup contain animal products, you can search websites like Double Check Vegan where you can search for ingredients to determine whether they are vegan-friendly. You can also look for a vegan-friendly label on the products.

For those who want to use vegan-friendly makeup brands exclusively, there are several on the market. Some of the best brands include E.l.f Cosmetics, KVD Beauty, B. Simone Beauty, and Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez.