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Why Red Lipstick is So Often Not Cruelty-Free or Even Vegetarian

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Red lipstick says a lot about the woman wearing it. For starters, red lips say “sexy.” They also say daring, fashionable, confident, and secure. At least this is what most people think about this historic hue. Believe it or not, in the past, red lipstick said a lot about women, but not many of the positive meanings it has today. Although red lipstick is still somewhat controversial (some might say it’s suggestive), no one would ever label a red lipped lady a witch.

In England in the late 1700s, red lipstick was considered evil. Any woman that wore red lipstick was considered a witch. Parliament reinforced this belief by enacting a law which made it nearly impossible to wear red lipstick without being persecuted. Fast forward to the late 1800s. Although Cleopatra can be credited for inventing lipstick by crushing carmine beetles and ants, the first modern form of lipstick was created in Paris in 1884. Perfumers wrapped deer tallow, castor oil, and beeswax concoction in silk paper and sold it to anyone wishing to enhance their looks – or ahem, lips.

During the 1940s, the movie industry made red lipstick popular and glamorous. Not only this, but cosmetics producers in the U.S. helped expand the lipstick color base. In addition to red, colors such as lilac, light pink, and bright red began to pop up. Today, red lipstick comes in all shades for every season and occasion. And most lipstick manufacturers do their best to cater to vegans, vegetarians, and anyone wishing to purchase cruelty free cosmetics. Some lipsticks are still made with beeswax or carmine, but most use natural oils such as castor and jojoba, plus colors and other ingredients that may be extracted in a cruelty free manner from non-living sources.

Vegan, vegetarian, and cruelty-free alternatives to carmine include: beet juice (used in powders, rouges, shampoos; no known toxicity); alkanet root (from the root of this herb-like tree; used as a red dye for inks, wines, lip balms, etc.; no known toxicity. Can also be combined to make a copper or blue coloring). Alternatives to beeswax include: paraffin, vegetable oils and fats. Ceresin, aka ceresine, aka earth wax. (Made from the mineral ozokerite. Replaces beeswax in cosmetics. Also used to make wax paper, to make polishing cloths, in dentistry for taking wax impressions, and in candle-making.) Also, carnauba wax (from the Brazilian palm tree; used in many cosmetics, including lipstick; rarely causes allergic reactions). Candelilla wax (from candelilla plants; used in many cosmetics, including lipstick; also in the manufacture of rubber and phonograph records, in waterproofing and writing inks; no known toxicity). Japan wax (Vegetable wax. Japan tallow. Fat from the fruit of a tree grown in Japan and China.).

If you want to purchase cruelty free red lipstick, please read our article about the world’s top cruelty free cosmetics companies by clicking here. If you are a strict vegan, it is always a good idea to read the label first before purchasing beauty products. If the tube or packaging does not contain an ingredients list, fortunately, most cosmetics companies (cruelty-free or not) offer ingredients lists on their websites. You may also obtain them via phone, email, or snail mail, so inquire within!

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