Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The C-word

There is a subject I have been avoiding guys, and it has to be dealt with whether I like it or not. Even amidst the hubbub of Saturday’s runway preparations, every time I reached for something red – be it lipstick, shadow or blush – I had this niggling discomfort in the back of my mind. If you have been reading my blog you will know what is coming next…

Carmine. It’s the red in almost everything red, purple, pink or orange that exists in makeup (and lots of other household and foody things), and it’s made from crushed beetles (for my full freak-out on discovering this see here). I’ve been mulling it over for a while now, trying to decide which direction to go in. Really, I have three choices:

a) ignore it;
b) ban all brands that use carmine from my kit; or
c) find a middle-ground.

I’m not much of a middle-ground kind of person – it grates me – but in this case I’m thinking this would be most beneficial for me and for everyone else who is debating these issues. Let me expand on my thoughts:

In a recent email response from the British Union Against Vivisection (see here), they made the point that being so limiting on the products they do recommend to customers concerned about animal cruelty would probably disillusion people and make it less likely that they would continue seeking cruelty-free alternatives. I know the BUAV have a valid point, because even I fell into a serious depression after finding out that most of my favourite cruelty-free brands indeed do contain carmine. I was at a loss, and had momentary radical thoughts of throwing it all in and becoming a regular consumer once again. So, I can totally understand this perspective.

Also, it is better to embrace brands that that are making an active and sincere contribution to ending animal testing by not using animal tested ingredients and by donating part of their profits to research into alternatives. If they use carmine, then it is something that should also be discussed, as it is clearly a big issue and it seems the alternatives are not quite as effective, or easily available. This is just my supposition though – for all I know carmine is another one of those money-making industries; just like vivisection (I will do more research into this).

I’m going to go on a fact-finding mission to see what vegan companies use to make their reddest reds and get some opinions from them. This is an ongoing project, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

In the meantime, personally I have made a decision about what I will and will not use: I will use brands that use carmine but that are otherwise cruelty-free; however, I will not buy the products that contain carmine. I will continue to buy only 100% carmine free products overall.  That is my personal decision. (I will also footnote all brands I recommend that do contain carmine, for your reference, although I will never recommend an actual product that contains carmine. For example, I may recommend an Illamasqua clear lip gloss, but not a red lipstick).

I would love to know anyone’s thoughts on this subject. I think it is important to debate the issue and learn new things from one another. Hit me with it!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah, I am also very disappointed that a lof of 'cruelty-free' companies use carmine in their formulas. I personally think it's pretty cruel to crush beetles and use them on people's faces, which is why I am finding myself in the same position as you - starting to buy carmine-free products from both cruelty-free and/or vegan companies. I hope that companies will soon turn to something different than beetles - there are so many plants out there that could create reds, there's got to be something!