Red? As in the color Red? As in the Color Red Lipstick!
This blog post was inspired by my aunt – she is 98 years ‘young’ – imagine knowing someone who has lived that long? She is my Mom’s sister and I would say she is the closest mother figure I have, as my Mom passed away when I was 18 years ‘old’.
My aunt is such a kind person really her heart is golden. She is frail but boy is she stubborn and feisty – look Gael I can still cross the road on my own! She point blank refuses to pay for parking. She makes me park and then we walk – and she won’t go on the bus either – she takes the ‘black taxi’ as she calls it. She says they are so lovely to her, they help her up and off and always wish her a super day. So what is her secret to longevity?
I honestly don’t know but she did tell me the other day that everyone should have the courage to wear a red lipstick! And so here is my post – darling auntie Celie I love you! Thank you for teaching me to value kindness more than anything in life.
I need to say this upfront – anyone can wear and rock a Red Lip – as long as it makes them feel comfortable and happy. It is all about your skin tone and that is what I am going to write about today – how you can choose the right shade of Red Lipstick for your skin tone. Also if you feel there is too much Red pigment you can always dab some off with your fingers or even a tissue. Red is a color that represents romance (roses) but also sexy – edgy and powerful.
Red is one of those Universal colors that you don’t need to shy away from – you can embrace it as long as you know the different under tones in the lipstick and which one will suit your skin tone.
Updated History of Lipstick
So in case you were wondering why lipstick is bad for your health – it all began with Queen Elizabeth I – because of the ingredient ‘lead’. Lead has a long and alarming history as a makeup ingredient (and indeed, still plagues us today). In the eighteenth century, women mixed it with vinegar to make ceruse, which helped them achieve that extremely pale look which was popular at the time.
It also visually smoothed out the face — there was no such thing as sunscreen back then, and smallpox was rampant, so women often had a lot to hide. People who used lead-based products poisoned themselves slowly, and in the meantime, suffered side effects like grey hair, dried-out skin, severe abdominal pain, and constipation.
Lead in Lipstick determined unsafe
In 2007 a Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released the report A Poison Kiss, with the results from an independent laboratory that tested 33 popular brands of lipsticks for lead content. They found the following:
- 61 percent of lipsticks contained lead, with levels ranging up to 0.65 parts per million.
- Lead-contaminated brands included L’Oreal, Cover Girl and even a $24 tube of Dior Addict.
The results were reported to the FDA (US Food & Drug administration) who found lead in all samples of lipstick tested, at levels ranging from 0.09 to 3.06 ppm – levels four times higher than those found in the Campaign study. The FDA found the highest lead levels in lipsticks made by three manufacturers: Procter & Gamble (Cover Girl brand), L’Oreal (L’Oreal, Body Shop and Maybelline brands) and Revlon. However and sadly the cosmetics industry have not taken any of the results seriously due to the fact that in some cases the levels of lead are so low that it is deemed not harmful.
The recent science indicates there is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous at small doses. Medical experts are clear that any level of lead exposure is unhealthy. This information was taken from a really excellent article titled Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Exposure to lead has been linked to a host of health concerns:
- Neurotoxicity: It has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems.
- Reduced fertility in both men and women
- Hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities
- Delayed onset of puberty in girls and development of testes in boys.
What I didn’t realize and maybe you know this but lead does not show up on ingredient labels, and it is found in a wide range of lipsticks—everything from affordable to high-end, luxury brands. The reason is “Lead can come in as a naturally occurring contaminant of the pigments used in lipstick formulas.”
My advice for you as a consumer is just be aware – know your ingredients. To date the FDA has not banned lead in lipstick/ any cosmetics however we know that cumulative exposure is harmful.
What makes Red Lipstick Harmful?
Carmine is a bright red dye commonly used to color food, cosmetics and textiles. Carmine is made from beetles, and is therefore not vegan. The pigment is produced by drying, crushing, and then boiling the bodies of cochineal beetles to extract carminic acid.
The scale insect that the dye comes from is called a cochineal bug which spends its life attached to prickly pear cacti in Central and South America. Harvested for hundreds of years or more, this bug is currently mostly collected on prickly pear plantations in Peru and the Canary Islands. Peru is the biggest exporter of this dye, averaging 70 tons a year. When you consider that it takes roughly 70,000 cochineal insects to create one pound of dye, that’s a lot of bugs!
The prickly pear pads are collected and then stored in warehouses, where workers gather the bugs off of them. The female cochineal spends its life burrowed into the plant, so it’s tricky to extract. Once pulled off, they’re sorted and then sun-dried. They are then crushed, revealing the bright red color inside the insect bodies. The outside of the bugs is grey covered in a white protective powder, so the contrast is impressive!
The crushed bugs are then mixed with an acidic alcohol solution, which brings out the aspects of the dye that will be used. This is why the dye is sometimes called cochineal extract.
In the past, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed carmine to fall under an umbrella term on labels of “natural dyes.” However, when it was discovered that this dye can cause severe allergic reactions (including anaphylaxis) in some people, they decided that it needed to be clearly labeled on packages.
So these days, you’ll see one of these names on packages that contain the dye: carmine, cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, carmine lake, carminic acid, or natural red 4. If you are allergic carmine then I would suggest you stay away from any red lipstick that contains this ingredient.
And then the other Red Lipstick containing baddie?
Red 40 and red 2 are alternative dyes that are made from coal tar and petroleum, which we know isn’t a renewable resource. It’s also linked to several health conditions, including cancer, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reproductive issues, and allergies.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a consumer advocacy organization based in Washington D.C. that studies food dye risks and impacts on health. You can read their concerns about these carcinogen containing dyes in their report Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.
When we realize how toxic these petroleum-based food dyes are, carmine begins to look a lot more appealing.
3 Red Lipsticks You Can Safely Rock!
I mean clearly after reading the above you are going to choose cruelty free lipsticks right?
Light skin tones always look amazing in a classic blue-toned red or even with a bit of a dark red – as long as it’s on the cooler side it is bound to suit anyone with fair-to-light skin. If your skin is on the paler end of the spectrum, look for a red with a touch of pink for a playful take on a crimson lip.
For pale skin tones we suggest the following lipsticks from our range:
this is for me a Universal Red and can go with any skin tone – it is from the Pierre Rene Cashmere range it is a cream based lipstick and I really love the texture.
If you’ve got golden or warm undertones, a fiery orange-red will be your new calling card. For medium skin tones, an orange-red shade (sunsets) come to mind. Like the way oranges mix with reds and taupes in the sky, the same hues work in harmony with medium complexions. Poetry aside, a poppy red also helps cancel out any sallowness you may have in your skin.
For medium tone skin tones we suggest the following lipsticks from our range:
this is the Royal Matt shade in number 18 Auraro which has an orangey undertone.
Darker skin tones can play with deeper, warmer reds or even a deep, bright, matte red. Burgundy shades have gorgeous hints of brown that make it a perfect match for the darker complexion.
For dark complexions we suggest the following lipsticks from our range:
this is the shade 23 dry wine from the Royal Matt lipstick collection.
Here are some of our girls rocking our red lipsticks. I hope you will consider giving it a try (at least once) after all it might be the key to longevity 🙂
Sending love and hugs to you all.