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Monday, September 26, 2011

Mozie Mondays Beauty Buzz: The truth behind common beauty product ingredients

This week is the premier or our newest Union Riveter, Mo Love from Madd Style Cosmetix! We are excited to have Mo take on all of your beauty questions/issues and even share some awesome beauty recipes and secrets! 'Cause NO ONE does makeup and beauty like MO DOES! So check back every Monday for "Mozie Mondays: Your weekly dose of Beauty Buzz"!

Hi everyone, welcome to the first edition of Modern Rosie’s Beauty Buzz! My name is Mo and I own and solely operate Madd Style Cosmetix, an indie makeup brand with a strict policy on being animal friendly in every way possible. Working in the vegan cosmetic industry has really opened my eyes to various undesirable ingredients that mainstream beauty companies frequently use to provide you with a “better” product. I have compiled a list of the more common ingredients that YOU should look out for when shopping your favorite beauty brands. Remember, if you don’t know what it is, you probably don’t want to put it on your body.

Carmine (Cochineal; Carminic Acid)
  • what: red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. 
  • where: cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red lollipops and food coloring). 
  •   Can cause allergic reactions
    note: reportedly, 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye.
  • why: colorant

  • Beet Juice: used in powders, rouges and shampoos; no known toxicity 
  • Alkanet Root: used as a red dye for inks, wines, lip balms, etc.; no known toxicity

Lanolin (Cholesterin, Lanolin Acids, Wool Fat, Wool Wax)

  • what: a product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool.
  • where: used many skin-care products and cosmetics and in medicines. An allergen with no proven effectiveness.
    note: while the gathering of Lanolin itself is cruelty-free, the wool shearing practice is a routine that leaves much to be desired.
  • why: emollient
Alternatives: plant and vegetable oils.

Urea (Carbamide)

  • what: an organic chemical compound excreted from the urine and other bodily fluids of mammals, amphibians and some fish.
  • where: found in deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, teeth whiteners,detergents, glue... (the list surprisingly goes on and on).
  • why: humectant, balances pH
  •  urea can be a skin and eye irritant if undiluted however it appears in very small amount in beauty items (but still, any amount of pee is too much for me!)

Alternatives: synthetics


  • what: A rendered form of beef or mutton fat. It contains mostly longer chain fatty acids.
  • where: Commercially found soaps, moisturizers, conditioners and salves.
  • why: emollient, emulsifier, humectant, occlusive, surfectant 
Alternatives: Soybean oil and other plant derived oils.

Hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid, hyaluronate)

  • what: a protein found in umbilical cords and the fluids around the joints.
  • where: most commonly found in skin care products and some cream cosmetics.
    note: Restylane is the trade name for a range of injectable fillers with a specific formulation of non-animal sourced hyaluronan acid.
  • why: wrinkle reducer/filler

Aternatives: plant oils

Squalene (squalene oil)

  • what: oil from shark livers and other cartilaginous fish.
    note: recently is has become a trend for sharks to be hunted to process their livers for the purpose of extracting squalene. It has been estimated that over 100 million sharks are killed each year because of this.
  • where: in cosmetics, moisturizers, hair dyes, surface-active agents.
  • why: lubricant

Alternatives: vegetable emollients such as olive oil, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, etc.

Stearic Acid

  • what: most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs, cows and sheep but is also known to be fat from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters.
  • where: used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavoring.
  • ☹  can be harsh, irritating.
  • why: surfectant, emulsifyer, opacifying agent

Alternatives: Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut.

 Sable Brushes

  • what: from the fur of sables (weasel-like mammals) or more rarely: squirrel, pony, goat, mongoose or badger.
  • where: used to make eye makeup, lipstick, and artists' brushes.
    note: While I know this isn’t an “ingredient” per se, I wanted to include it in this list because of the things mentioned, it is probably the most common/used item on the list. While the idea of a natural hair brush seems to be simple, I want to point out the cruelty issues that come along with this. Because some of these animals do not raise well being held in captivity, the harvesting the hair for these brushes is a rather brutal practice. Most of these animals are hunted, trapped and skinned merely for their fur.
  • why: makeup application

Alternatives: synthetic fibers, cruelty-free natural brushes (generally from ponies, etc)

"Natural Sources"

  • what: this is a rather vague term to look out for since it can mean animal or vegetable sources.
  • where: most often in the health-food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil.
  • why: marketing!

Alternatives: plant sources.

Mo is the owner of Madd Style Cosmetix, which is dedicated to creating products using safe and vegan ingredients and lending some transparency to the makeup industry as a whole. You can find Madd Style's shop here, or follow her fast-pased fan page on Facebook!


  1. A lot of useful info! Some I knew, some I didn't, thank you, Mo!

  2. Thank you very much for this.. never gave much thought as to the ingredients to some of the products I use.. Now.. I will be changing for better..

  3. I Just threw out ALL my non MSC pigments....This is a total eye opener....

  4. Wow, I don't wear makeup and generally use natural stuff, but wow, I realize it's in much more than I thought...