Red Kiss: Lipstick Chemistry or Colored with Crushed Bugs

Red Kiss #35

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 consumercare-us@gcc.esteelauder.com

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)]

3 Responses to Red Kiss: Lipstick Chemistry or Colored with Crushed Bugs

  1. This is interesting. In our part of Mexico, cochineal is a plaga — an infestation affecting certain plants. We can’t cross into some agricultural areas if we have citrus or mangoes in the car without having them confiscated.

    After reading these ingredients, I’m going “Whoa!” I guess you know about the amount of chemicals absorbed through the skin and how this poses potential health problems. It wouldn’t be so bad if all the ingredients were natural, like cochineal.

    Here’s a factoid: a woman who wears a lot of make-up can absorb up to five pounds of chemical substances a year. Think Tammy Bakker.
    http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_6013.cfm

    Kathleen

    • Yep, I’m reading about lead in lipstick, too. I might take it upon myself to research exactly what those ingredients mean. It’s all so obscure and it means jumping through hoops to get the list from the manufacturers. Thanks for your reminder about the health impacts of beauty chemisty, Kathleen.

  2. Found this interesting – I too am a red lipstick person (Beauty Control) and excited to know where the red dye comes from.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>