Posts Tagged ‘parabens’

Of all of the ingredients hiding in cosmetics these days, from parabens to phthalates, you may never have guessed that many of your favorite shades of lipstick, shadows, and blushes contained bugs.  Yes, that’s right, our good old six-legged friends from the insect world are widely used to produce carmine, or a bright red color extracted from their tiny little bodies. And you’ll find it nearly everywhere, except on the cruelty-free shelves of Bambu Batu, where we now carry All Good Lips SPF18 Beauty Tints, the newest product from Elemental Herbs, which is 100% carmine free (relying instead on mica for coloring) and boasts the same healing properties as their organic lip balms, made with five medicinal herbs.

The cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) bug is a scale insect of the suborder Sternorrhyncha, a parasite that lives primarily on the nutrients and moisture of cacti.  The red color used for dye is known as carminic acid, and is manufactured by the cochineal bug as a defense against predators. To prepare carmine for use in the cosmetic or food industry, the powdered insects are boiled in either ammonia or sodium carbonate, filtered to remove the parts that cannot be dissolved, and added to a clear salt solution to create a red aluminum salt.

The insects can also be boiled with water and treated with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate to create a salt.  We know this salt as “carmine lake”, “crimson lake”, or “natural red 4”,  and it can be found everywhere from yogurt and Jell-O to the products we apply to our faces. There are some who are allergic to the dye, and these individuals must avoid foods and cosmetics with lake colors for risk of developing anaphylactic shock, asthma, or hives.

The dye itself has been used in Central America since the 15th century to color fabrics, but did not become an international export until the period  of  colonization beginning in the 1700s.  The demand for cochineal dye fell during the 19th century as synthetic dyes began to take the place of naturally produced coloring agents.  Currently, cochineal dyes are sought as alternatives to man-made chemicals, although many are wary about allergic reactions and killing 70,000 bugs to make one pound of dye.  In the US, carmine is approved by the FDA as safe to use, but must be clearly labeled on packaging as an ingredient.

Now that you know where that lovely red hue is made, would you still wear that favorite shade of rouge or drink that bottle of pink lemonade?  Aside from health concerns, what are the ethical implications of carmine in cosmetics and foodstuffs?

The Hive Natural Beauty Collective in San Luis Obispo knows that caring for yourself also extends to caring for your environment.  A salon with an ethical as well as an aesthetic code, Hive fully discloses all of the ingredients of their products, making sure that each meets their standards for purity and health.  Extending their eco-consciousness throughout the entire business, Hive educates each employee as to their impact on the environment, uses biodegradable packaging, and recycles whenever possible.

The inspiration for Hive began 3 years ago when Marcia Beck, the salon’s creative director, started searching for non-ammoniated hair color lines.  Suffering from burn-out after over 2o years in the industry, Beck was tired of working within an environment full of toxic chemicals.  Reinvigorated by her pursuit of a green beauty collective, she has since established a beautiful salon in San Luis Obispo’s Railroad District – at 2033 Santa Barbara St. – and is currently working on certifying her business with the National Association of Eco-Friendly Salons and Spas.  Following both a socially and environmentally conscious model, Hive adheres to a detailed manual  and holds frequent meetings to discuss their green practices.  Featuring brands such as Organic Systems, Davines, and Number 4, Hive is sure to deliver a quality spa experience without the guilt associated with parabens, ammonia, and sulfates.

For special occasions, check out Hive’s birthday and anniversary packages.  For an appointment, contact via phone at 805-439-2255 or visit their site to book online.  Go and see what the buzz is all about!

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