What Is Carmine?

Heal Yes! does NOT use carmine. Carmine has several names (carmine; carminic acid; CI75470; cochineal; crimson lake; natural red 4 … ) and is often used in foods, from yogurt to hard candy, and in makeup, especially lip and cheek products. It rates as non-toxic according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep ingredient glossary. Carmine in makeup contributes to its color, often adding vivacious, bold red tones.Carmine is actually a red pigment that comes from a tiny insect called the cochineal bug.

While carmine is "natural" and widely used to color cosmetics, it's important to note that it is derived from insects. Let's reiterate a few more times: Carmine comes from—




The cochineal beetle, to be precise.

Cochineal bugs they have a special red pigment in their bodies. To make carmine, people collect the bugs and dry them. Then, they crush them up to get the red pigment out. It's like squeezing out the color from the bugs! That pigment is then used to make the makeup look bold and often a vibrant red.

Some people prefer to avoid products with carmine, especially once they learn where it comes from, due to personal choices or ethical reasons, and especially if they follow a vegan lifestyle or have concerns about animal-derived ingredients.

If you're interested in makeup products without carmine, you can look for products labeled as "vegan" or "cruelty-free." Many cosmetic brands offer alternative red pigments that are synthetic and do not involve the use of insects. On another note, some prefer to avoid synthetic colors and dyes. Heal Yes! relies primarily on non-nanoparticle iron oxides to achieve cosmetic color, never using carmine.

There are a few reasons why someone might choose to avoid carmine in cosmetics:

Allergies or Sensitivities: Some individuals may have allergic reactions or sensitivities to carmine. It's possible for certain people to experience skin irritation, bumps, redness, and/or itching when using products with carmine. So, they may opt for carmine-free alternatives to avoid potential allergic reactions.

Animal Welfare: While being vegan is one reason to avoid carmine, some people choose to avoid it due to concerns about animal welfare. The process of harvesting carmine involves collecting and crushing cochineal bugs, a paragon of harming other living creatures. By choosing carmine-free cosmetics, they support brands that prioritize ethical sourcing and animal-friendly practices.

Lifestyle Choices: Individuals who prefer to lead a more minimalist or natural lifestyle might choose to avoid carmine in effort to use products with simpler ingredient lists. By opting for carmine-free cosmetics, they align their choices with their overall minimalistic lifestyle.

Ingredient Transparency: For some, avoiding carmine is a part of their quest for ingredient transparency. They want to know exactly what goes into the products they use and understand the sources of the ingredients. By choosing carmine-free cosmetics, they have a better sense of the ingredients they are applying to their skin.

    If carmine is a concern for you or someone you know, exploring carmine-free formulas from Heal Yes! can be helpful in finding products that meet your needs.

    Is carmine natural?

    In a sense, carmine is natural. After all, the ingredient originates from beetles — yes, you read that right: beetles. The South American-originating beetles are placed within an acidic solution, creating carminic acid, a vivid red.

    Do pay special attention to cosmetics that are bright or crimson and / or red, but, nonetheless, read every cosmetic ingredient panel and ascertain that the company you are purchasing from is fully disclosing, honestly labeling their cosmetics:

    Many makeup products, especially lip and concealer and creamy products, contain beeswax among other waxes. Many are okay with beeswax, unless vegan. If you are vegan, you especially want to avoid carmine.

    Bright colors CAN be achieved without dangerous dyes, carmine, and other nasties: iron oxides are often the purportedly safest way to color cosmetics. Read more about iron oxides here.

    How is carmine identified within cosmetics?

    Simply because a makeup product claims to be cruelty-free, all-natural, pure, and / or organic does not inherently mean it’s without carmine. Most cosmetic manufacturers label carmine under “may contain +/-” 

    Cosmetic companies are not necessarily trying to be sneaky in labeling (perhaps some are), as it’s an FDA-approved measure for labeling cosmetics where shades have the same core ingredients and differ with only a couple possible likely color additives (e.g., colorants – carmine; iron oxides; ultramarines; dyes; etc.) or other such ingredients. The “may contain” you see on labels makes labeling cosmetics flexible to use across multiple shades, a major time-saver for cosmetic companies that can, unfortunately, befuddle consumers or not enlighten them with information if they need to avoid one of those “may contain” ingredients such as carmine or its other names.

    Too often companies can mislead with their ingredients listings, whether out of laziness, duplicity, ignorance, or not understanding critical FDA labeling mandates. Carmine is becoming a no-go ingredient to consumers, so voiding it from makeup formulas is a task many companies need to undertake … But revising a makeup formula that has high functionality, sells well, and is already well-known may be risky to a carmine-using company’s bottom line. For this reason it is critical to gage that you can trust a company in their labeling practices.

    Crossing carmine off an ingredient panel will likely yield a less-red, less-bright, less-vivid product but a less irritating, more appealing one. Be sure you do your due diligence in assessing the makeup companies you are deeming The Best in the natural beauty sphere.

    Need products without carmine? We’ve got the most top-rated carmine-free products for you, as Heal Yes! is always carmine-free.