By Allison Ford, Divine Caroline
Although most ingredients are harmless, some substances in cosmetics do raise an eyebrow or two. Like formaldehyde, for example. Recently, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control found that even nail polishes that claimed to be free of the “toxic three”—formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene—contained the substances. (For the record, most major polish manufacturers have come out and said that surely their polishes were fine and they never lied. Ahem.)
But harmful carcinogens and unidentifiable chemicals aside, there’s still weird stuff lurking in cosmetics. Stuff that’s not necessarily toxic, but definitely strange. Stuff like this:
Carmine is a natural red dye. Natural equals good, right? Well good in the sense that’s been around for a long, long time, but bad in the sense that it’s made from crushed beetle shells. Yes, carmine (sometimes called crimson lake or cochineal) is derived from the crushed exoskeletons of tiny female beetles. Some people are mildly allergic to it, but if you’re trying to avoid it, don’t stop at cosmetics—avoid yogurt, juice, candy, and other dyed-red food products, which often contain it as well.