If you pay attention to ingredient lists on your beauty products, like we do, you’ll notice that carmine is an ingredient in our Be Adored lip treatment. We’ve gotten some feedback from customers on the blog, on Facebook and through our website, who are wondering why we chose to go with carmine as our choice of color for our first colored product ever (!), so we thought we’d explain. We don’t want there to be any mistrust of Be Adored – we all really love it and we’ve gotten amazing feedback from most everyone who has tried it!
Here’s the scoop: for a company committed to only using 100% natural and nontoxic ingredients, there are not a whole lot of options out there for ingredients that impart a rich red color. Almost all of the classic as well as new beauty brands use chemical and synthetic ingredients, many of which are derivatives from coal tar and have names like D&C Red 36, and D&C Red 22 Aluminum Lake. Here’s what EWG’s Skin Deep Database explains to us about “Lake” colorants: “In industrial production of colorants, the term “lake” is applied to pigments or dyes that are precipitated with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, barium, or others. Most lake pigments are synthetically produced from coal tar or petroleum.” They are noted as having potential “organ system toxicity” according to the Database.
So of course, we weren’t going to formulate with synthetic colorants to get a rich red color. So we worked with the options below before choosing carmine:
Iron Oxides: Iron oxides are natural compounds of iron and oxygen. There are many types of iron oxides, and they can come in a variety of different shades. To give you a sense of what the ingredient is in its raw form, rust is an iron oxide. When we were formulating Be Adored, we tried a few options with iron oxides, since they are considered to be safe and are natural and nontoxic. However, we found them to be really drying on our lips, which compromised the hydrating feeling and effect we were going for, so we crossed them off the list. Plus, we weren’t wild about the idea of having rust on our lips!
Vegetable Pigments: We tried the options that suited our particular color need. It produced a balm that was a lovely red color, but when we tried it in our lips, it was practically sheer. The color didn’t translate well upon application, and didn’t give us the visible ruby-red tint we were looking for that would really set Be Adored apart from the others.
We choose to go with Carmine: Carmine, as many of you already know, is an extract taken from the shells of the red cochineal beetle. It’s a 100% natural and nontoxic ingredient, and Skin Deep ranks it as non-toxic with a toxicity score of 1 out of 10. It’s sustainably produced, and is currently the only bright red pigment available to natural cosmetic companies that isn’t derived from synthetics. It’s actually one of the oldest pigments used to color beauty products and is used all over the world. We tried it in our formula, and we immediately loved the color – it was exactly the red that we wanted, and left our lips with the bright, lively tint we were looking for.
Author: Tata Harper Team
The team at Tata Harper Skincare is passionate about promoting a modern, health-conscious natural beauty lifestyle that’s committed to safety, honesty and sustainability.