Bloody Beauty - Are Dead Animals in Your Make-up?

Article by Shelley Norris.

Think only leather and meat are murder? Think again. Animal products are lurking within the depths of your make-up drawer. If painting your lips with crushed insects and fish scales sounds truly nauseating, then don’t be fooled by the sanitized, attractive packaging it comes in.

Sadly, leading cosmetic companies are still lowering themselves to acts of animal cruelty in a bid to lower production costs, hiding animal by-products within their formulas. Thousands of technical and patented names for these animal ingredients make it increasingly difficult for everyday consumers to recognise the ugly truth behind the products they purchase. If that’s not confusing enough, some companies even shamefully remove the word ‘animal’ entirely from their labels to avoid repulsing their customers. Oh, the irony.

So what can we do? First off, awareness goes a long way in the destruction of such practises. Watch out for these 5 common animal products hidden within your favourite cosmetics:


1. Carmine

Derivaties: Carminic Acid

Beetle juice – no, not the movie. This is the actual extracts of crushed beetles. Carmine dye is the bright red pigment produced by the crushing of female cochineal beetles. These little critters are commercially harvested in Africa, Spain and Central America. Here is where things get bloody. Their bodies are dried by being burnt alive and then crushed for their extracts. Reportedly, in order to produce one pound of this dye, 70, 000 beetles must be killed! So, why is it used? Carmine dye is responsible for the red and pink pigments found in many cosmetics such as lipsticks, lip-glosses and eyeshadows, to name a few. Although this practise has been around for thousands of years, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives that produce the same effect. Red lips may be sexy, but only when they’re vegan friendly!


2. Beeswax

Derivatives: Cera Flava

Beeswax? But, beeswax production doesn’t hurt bees, right? Wrong. Beeswax is a widely used and very inexpensive product that is found in most lipsticks, lip balms, mascaras, eyeshadows and other skincare products. The wax is obtained through melting honeycomb in water, straining it, and then cooling it. To produce beeswax in such large quantities, beekeepers are required to truck millions of hives all over the country in order to track seasonal crops. This stresses the bees immensely. During this punishing journey, many bees are killed or have their wings and legs torn off due to haphazard handling. Large commercial bee farms also go to nasty extremes to keep a colony flourishing post-honey harvest. They replace the natural honey with a cheap, sugary substitute that lacks the nutrition needed for a bee’s survival. This artificial food source dramatically weakens bees’ immune systems. Don’t be a buzz kill – avoid beeswax!


3. Lanolin

Derivatives: Aliphatic Alcohols, Cholesterin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Alcohols, Lanosterols, Sterols, Triterpene Alcohols

Lanolin – sounds like a pretty flower or something, doesn’t it? Well, in reality, it’s the kind of substance you’d normally like to keep as far away from your mouth as possible. Why? Because, lanolin is the waxy substance that is derived from sheep’s wool. Yep, it’s that greasy sebum secreted by wool-bearing mammals that repels water off their coats. Oh, and you smear it on your face. Lanolin is used as an emollient in most cream-based cosmetics including lipsticks, lip balms and foundations. Many people believe that lanolin is cruelty free. Unfortunately, however, lanolin is a by-product of wool farming (an inherently cruel industry), and is gathered after the sheep have been shorn. Due to careless handling, sheep are repeatedly injured during shearing, and sadly, almost all end up being slaughtered for their meat. Make like Daniel LaRusso and wax off from lanolin (yes, I totally just referenced The Karate Kid).


4. Guanine

Derivatives: pearl essence

Something smells fishy about this one. Oh, right! That’s because it is. Put all thoughts of oysters or shiny pearls out of your mind. Guanine, or ‘pearl essence’ as they like to sugar coat it, is actually made by processing the scraped-off scales of dead fish. This produces a shimmering or light diffusing colouring ingredient commonly used in the cosmetics industry to add lustre to products. Think shimmery lipsticks, lip-glosses and nail polishes. So unless you want a side of chips with your lipstick, buy guanine-free!


5. Tallow

Derivatives: Sodium Tallowate, Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, Tallow Imidazoline

Tallow – in my opinion, the most repulsive of them all – is rendered animal fat found typically around the kidneys and other organs of beef. Yum! The process consists of boiling animal carcasses to create fatty by-products. Sadly, the decaying animals come from every source imaginable, including lab animals, deadstock, shelter animals and even road kill. Cosmetics companies only use this product because it is bloody cheap (pun intended). The harsh reality is, slaughterhouses kill billions of animals every year, and somehow have to dispose of these ‘by-products’; selling them to cosmetics manufacturers is one easy solution. Like lanolin, tallow is used as an emollient in cosmetics like lipsticks, eyeshadow and soap. Render it useless and avoid tallow-infested products!


The best way to avoid these bloody beauty products is to buy from certified vegan companies. For a more extensive list and any additional information, visit PETA.

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