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6 Weird Ingredients in Your Makeup

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On the bottle of Calamine lotion, you might see it listed as “ferrous oxide,” but it’s basically rust. It’s what makes Calamine so deliciously pink, and if you ever see a cosmetics bottle that lists “pigment brown 6” or “pigment red 101” as ingredients, it’s in there, too.

Whale Vomit

Some things are just better the ol’ fashioned way, and when it comes to perfumes, that means that the preferred ingredient for affixing scent to the skin is ambergris, a musky compound that’s regurgitated by whales. (Sometimes it emerges from the whale at the other end.) The interesting thing about ambergris is that the pricier and fancier the perfume (especially expensive French eau de toilettes), the more likely it is to contain this ancient, natural compound, while cheaper versions are more likely to have suspicious synthetic ingredients. Luckily, scientists have recently discovered that balsam fir sap is actually a better perfume fixative than ambergris, so the whales—and their pricy puke—are off the hook.

Hot Pepper Oil

A substance called capsicum (or sometimes capsaicin) is the secret ingredient in lip-plumping glosses that creates that puffy bee-stung look, as well as causes that strange tingling sensation. It tingles because capsicum is derived from hot peppers—the same stuff that gives pepper spray its kick. Since it’s derived from food it’s obviously non-toxic, but it’s definitely an irritant—the irritation is what makes it work. It’s found in many plumping glosses like DuWop Lip Venom and Sally Hansen Extreme Lip Inflation.

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Read more: Beauty, Green, Make-Up

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Samantha, selected from DivineCaroline

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5:43PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

Oh wow! Thanks!

4:51AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012


4:49AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012


11:11PM PDT on May 25, 2012

I'm not seeing how any of these are weird or gross...? Nice article!

11:40AM PDT on May 24, 2012

That's just gross.

5:49PM PDT on May 13, 2012

All of those are gross expect for the hot pepper oil :/ I guess we should be looking at the ingredients more carefully.

11:23AM PDT on May 12, 2012

Okay the Carmine has started grossing me out, and here's why, I ordered a Passion Fruit Tea from Starbucks the other day and had an adverse effect. I thought I was going to get sick about 20 minutes after I drank it.. I would rather not ingest or place these dead bugs on my face.. There has to be better alternatives to these and many other ingredients...

5:13AM PDT on May 12, 2012


4:45PM PDT on May 11, 2012


1:44AM PDT on May 11, 2012

Oh, and you want yuck factor? Research what women used to do for birth control a la Greco-Roman era. (I'm glad I'm a woman now, I'm so so glad I am a woman in this day and age!) And also what they did for libido enhancers!

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