Hourglass Invented A Vegan Ingredient So Your Red Lipstick Isn’t Crushed Bugs Anymore

Elizabeth Denton
Hourglass Invented A Vegan Ingredient So Your Red Lipstick Isn’t Crushed Bugs Anymore
Photo: Hourglass.

Whether you’re vegan or not, carmine—the ingredient that makes lipstick, red velvet cake and candy so red—is pretty icky. If you didn’t already know, carmine is derived from crushed bodies of cochineal insects. It’s in so many cosmetics and food products, it’s almost impossible to avoid directly though many vegans try. That’s why Hourglass created the Confession Lipstick Red 0. The special-edition shade is a totally vegan red hue.

Not to gross you out even more, but there are 70,000 insects in one pound of carmine, which means there could be as many as 1,000 insects used in a single lipstick. So, why even use it? Well, mostly because it’s cheap and easy. There are numerous vegan carmine alternatives including beetroot and sweet potato. But it’s still difficult to get an ultra-vibrant red using these plant-based options.

According to Hourglass, the brand worked for three years to come up with its own vegan carmine so you don’t have to sacrifice color when going for vegan options. Checking out the ingredients, it looks like Hourglass uses iron oxide as a base and brightens with dyes red 33 and red 7, as well as other patent-pending ingredients. The FDA lists these red dyes as a safe additive for cosmetics, but things get complicated when you’re working with eyeshadow and liner as it can be harmful to the eyes.

Here, we’re talking lipstick. A gorgeous true red color that looks great on all skin tones.

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hourglass confession lipstick red 0


The creamy, long-wearing color has a satin finish and comes in a badass red tube adorned with a beetle. It’s pricey, but the applicator can be used with the full collection of Confession Lipstick Refills ($22 at Hourglass) so you can choose from 32 other nudes, mauves, pinks, berries and reds when you’ve gotten to the end of Red 0.

Bugs are gross but here’s to letting them live their happy little lives.

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