Red lipstick usually gets its color from an ingredient called carmine, which is very much not vegan. Carmine (and this is, uh, kind of gross) is a byproduct of crushed female beetles. In fact, there are a whopping 70,000 insects in just one pound of carmine — the result of as many as 1,000 insects used to create a single red lipstick. To change this, Hourglass has been working to figure out a way around the use of carmine for years. Well, it finally found something. The patent-pending innovation is called Red 0 and it’s how Hourglass made the newest Confession red lipstick totally vegan.
To celebrate the exciting development, the brand is also releasing an exclusive red case, with a beetle on the packaging — meant to represent the brand’s commitment to animal welfare. Though the metallic crimson packaging will be a limited edition, it can be refilled with any of the brand’s Confession lipsticks.
TZR spoke to Hourglass cosmetics founder and CEO Carisa Janes via email about why she decided to make creating a vegan substitute for carmine a priority. “Learning about the carmine extraction process really struck a chord in me. These insects are bred, dried, crushed, and boiled — all to make the red pigment used in a typical tube of lipstick,” she says. “I knew there had to be a better way, one that doesn’t treat living beings as expendable. I knew it was going to be challenging given that carmine has been used for centuries in everything from beauty products to paint to food, but it was an important step for us in our journey to becoming fully vegan.”
This particular mission was, she explains, one of the hardest ones the brand has faced for this initiative. “We began to develop a no-compromise, animal-friendly replacement with the incredible R&D team at Unilever in 2018. Over a period of three years, we conducted 175 color experiments, tested 36 pigment combinations, and developed 19 formulations before achieving the right vibrancy and depth — that doesn’t sacrifice performance,” Janes says. So, needless to say, arriving at Red 0 as it is today was a journey.
Eager to give it a whirl? Shop the new lipstick below:
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.