BY HOPE NGO
Lipstick means many things to many women: the pop of color, the one piece of makeup women can’t (shouldn’t?) live without… Even Audrey Hepburn famously said, via Total Beauty, “I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping and leisure and wearing lipstick.” But to vegans, a bit of lipstick is also something their strict ethics won’t allow them to use.
That’s because the prettiest, pearliest, most shimmery lipsticks are made with fish scales, according to Gizmodo. Fish scales have purines, a crystal-like material that has the ability to reflect light from different angles and at different levels. Because purine crystals are irregular, when light hits one pane of crystal, some part of the light gets reflected back while others keep going until it hits another crystal. The diffused light rays give the appearance of shimmer and shine. The shimmer ingredient is listed as “guanine,” and guess what? It isn’t just used in lipstick. Guanine can show up in your bath soaps, hair care, and skincare products (via Cosmetics Info). Gizmodo also shares this fun fact: Fish scales are also used to make fake pearls look real, but real pearls have purine, which gives them their natural luster.
Red lipsticks also have an added weird ingredient
But wait, there’s more — if red is your thing, just know that order for red lipsticks to be red red, the cosmetic is made with a dye called cochineal (or carmine), which is produced by grinding the female cochineal parasitic insect (via Allure). The insect is native to Mexico, Central, and South America and has been used for centuries. Cochineal is also a common ingredient in food items like soft drinks (yes, your Frappuccino), candies, jello, and yogurt (via Business Insider). So it is safe, but if you are vegan and/or squeamish, the thought of applying fish scales (or crushed bugs for that matter) may be enough to send you hurtling to the vegan counter of your favorite cosmetics store.