What is in your lipstick?

 By Dr. Nirvana Pillay, Medical Scientist and Founder of Nirvana Natural Bliss



I love lipsticks or should I say lip colour. I have been using lipsticks since I was in varsity  (and that was a very long time ago) and never once had I thought to look at the ingredients listing of the lipstick. Who does that anyway?

Lip colour can make you feel like a million bucks or it can also give you an instant "pop to life" to an otherwise dull day, season.

 I had set out to introduce a vegan lip gloss/ lipsticks and a vegan mascara and toward the second half of last year we had begun the R&D process.

So whilst doing my research, I was absolutely horrified to find out that  multi-million dollar companies of big 'reputable" brands have and still do use an ingredient listed as "carmine", CI 75470,” “cochineal extract,” “crimson lake,” or “natural red 4”. The horror will be explained soon...after I tell you more about carmines.


What are Carmines?

Carmines can be found in insects known as cochineal Coccus cacti L. These insects are found on the pads of cacti in South America. The crimson-red colour that you find in your lipsticks, lip glosses and make-up are obtained from the insects by a process called hydroalcoholic extraction.


Images of a cochineal


Two things about this did not sit well with me- the obvious of course is the use of insects on your face and secondly the process of extraction uses alcohol. (As you all know Nirvana Natural Bliss is an alcohol-free brand)

The substance itself is not a hazard to the general population, but there are concerns that carminic acid may cause allergic reactions and even anaphylactic shock in a subset of the population (Vilan and Pena, 2016).

So next time you buy a lip stick, lip gloss or make up make sure you read the ingredient list as I am sure you too would not like to be wearing colour derived from dead insects on your face.

Due to the pandemic our R&D had come to a standstill but we are happy to had launched our vegan lip glosses made with natural oils, Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid that gives an instant dose of hyaluronic acid making your lips a plump. They are 100 % vegan and free from animal by- products such as carmine and cochineal extracts. 




 References: D. Villaño, ... P. Mena, in Encyclopedia of Food and Health, 2016

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