Monday, July 6, 2015

What's in YOUR red colorant?

I know this is my soap blog and I try not to include too much stuff about Mad Oils, my wholesale supply company, but I thought this was just too important not to post here:

Mad Oils carries only vegan ingredients.  We believe in using and selling only cruelty free products.  We are an animal loving team here with a vast array of rescued pets between us.

Carmine is an ingredient very often used in red and pink micas.  You may not be aware of what it is or where it comes from, but it might be in the micas and other colorants you use in your products.  

photo courtesy of

“Carmine” is an ingredient used often in the food and cosmetic industry.  It is often found in micas and other colorants to produce red, pink, purple and brown colors.  What is carmine?  Cochineal bugs that are dried and crushed to produce a red dye, are called cochineal, carmine, or carminic acid.  The dye comes specifically from the female insect called Dactylopius coccus. These bugs are killed, dried and crushed to create the color.

It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.


photo courtesy of

Carmine is generally safe, but manufacturers of products need to know that in a small number of people, carmine can cause swelling, skin rashes and even respiratory problems.  The red powdered pigment is used as a natural alternative to artificial coloring, but it is not vegan.  It is important to be aware of ingredients we choose when making our products so that customers can choose for themselves what they want to use on their body.  

We share this information with you, not to gross you out, but to ensure that when choosing Mad Oils, you know exactly what you’re getting.  We stand by our claim that Mad Oils will carry only 100% vegan micas.  In fact, all of our products are 100% vegan, even our fragrance oils.  (Yes, fragrances often contain animal products).  We know this is important to many of you, as it is to us.

It’s important to make an educated choice when purchasing reds, pinks, browns and purples. It is up to you whether to use products containing carmine or not. Remember that knowing what is in your products and providing full disclosure about their ingredients is empowering to you, as well as your customer.  Knowledge is power.

Xoxo - All of us at Mad Oils

Note: Please refer to the FDA website for color additive regulations to find out what label requirements are in effect.


Sue Finley said...

Thank you for this post, Joanna. Your posts are always ALWAYS informative and well written.

Joanna Schmidt said...

Sue, thank you! This topic is an important one. Many people are unaware and this blog is supposed to not only be for soap porn and challenges, but useful information! :)

It was great hanging with you in Indianapolis!

Posh Bijou said...

I love this entry, thank you! Thanks for mentioning pink--for some reason that hasn't clicked with me that I need to source a cruelty free pink even though I logically know it's a derivative of red. ;)

LittleCritters said...

Thank you for this helpful info. I will keep this in mind. Tina G.

LittleCritters said...

Thank you for this helpful info. I will keep this in mind. Tina G.

LittleCritters said...

Thank you for this helpful info. I will keep this in mind. Tina G.

Paper Street Soaps said...

The number of these insects it takes to make a pound of red color is staggering. I had always heard that red dye was made from crushed beetles, but this really puts it into perspective. Thanks for the great info!

Ivette said...

this post has been enlightening to me. I started soaping about a month ago and had no idea about this, but love to research and learn every day. So glad I stumbled upon your blog and kept scrolling down.