For sometime now, Eric has been telling me that lipstick is made with cochineal, the bug cultivated by Zapotecs in the Oaxaca valley, and prized as a natural colorant for cotton, wool, Colonial frescoes and lip stain. Today, I was playing around with my Estee Lauder Signature Lipstick #35 Rich Red and thought, gee, I wonder what is really in this stuff? Of course, there is no ingredients list on that shiny golden container. Where would they put it? A Google search brought no immediate answers. I get on the Live Chat to Estee Lauder and Chatter Melissa tells me she can’t answer the question and refers me to a phone number: 1-866-378-3301 and email firstname.lastname@example.org
I call, asking a simple question and wanting a simple answer: What are the ingredients for Lipstick #35 Rich Red? What is your concern? the young female voice greets me. I don’t have a concern, I say. What exactly are you looking for? she says. (She seems to be anticipating a problem.) I just want to know what makes up the red color in this lipstick. She says she will need to look at a product catalog and get back to me. I am on hold. After what seems to be several minutes, she gets back on and tells me that the lipstick is colored with carmine, plus a bunch of other things I don’t understand or recognize. But what the heck. I like this lipstick.
Bingo. Carmine is the commercial name for cochineal. So, whatever else is in that lipstick, I do know that it is colored with crushed bugs.
Okay, now in the interests of consumer health, I received an e-mail from the above consumercare group and their reply lists the ingredients below. Would any chemists like to weigh-in with an analysis. If you look way down there toward the bottom, you’ll see lonely, little carmine. Who knows what the other stuff is?
Signature Lipstick #35 Rich Red by Estee Lauder: INGREDIENTS: TRIDECYL TRIMELLITATE  CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC/MYRISTIC/STEARIC TRIGLYCERIDE  DIPENTAERYTHRITYL TETRABEHENATE/POLYHYDROXYSTEARATE  POLYETHYLENE  BIS-DIGLYCERYL POLYACYLADIPATE-2  BARIUM SULFATE  OZOKERITE  BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER)  VP/EICOSENE COPOLYMER  CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE  TOCOPHERYL ACETATE  CALCIUM ALUMINUM BOROSILICATE  OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT EXTRACT  TRITICUM VULGARE (WHEAT BRAN) EXTRACT  HORDEUM VULGARE (BARLEY) EXTRACT\EXTRAIT D’ORGE  TRITICUM VULGARE (WHEAT) GERM EXTRACT  METHYL GLUCOSE SESQUISTEARATE  ASTROCARYUM MURUMURU SEED BUTTER  OCTYLDODECYL NEOPENTANOATE  POLYMETHYL METHACRYLATE  CHOLESTEROL  MICROCRYSTALLINE WAX\CERA MICROCRISTALLINA\CIRE MICROCRISTALLINE  GLYCERYL BEHENATE/EICOSADIOATE  SORBITAN ISOSTEARATE  DI-PPG-3-MYRISTYL ETHER ADIPATE  LAURYL PCA  BEHENIC ACID  HYDROXYSTEARIC ACID  PVP/HEXADECENE COPOLYMER  LINOLEIC ACID  SQUALANE  TIN OXIDE  POTASSIUM SULFATE  VANILLIN  SYNTHETIC FLUORPHLOGOPITE  FRAGRANCE (PARFUM)  POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE  SILICA  CALCIUM SODIUM BOROSILICATE  ACRYLATES COPOLYMER  [+/- MICA  TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891)  YELLOW 6 LAKE (CI 15985)  RED 7 LAKE (CI 15850)  COPPER POWDER (CI 77400)  IRON OXIDES (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)  MANGANESE VIOLET (CI 77742)  RED 6 (CI 15850)  YELLOW 5 LAKE (CI 19140)  RED 22 LAKE (CI 45380)  RED 30 LAKE (CI 73360)  CARMINE (CI 75470)  BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE (CI 77163)  RED 33 LAKE (CI 17200)  RED 28 LAKE (CI 45410)  YELLOW 10 LAKE (CI 47005)  BRONZE POWDER (CI 77400)  BLUE 1 LAKE (CI 42090)]