Animals

Does lipstick contain fish scales?

A question that has been answered before but needs a little clarification.

The ingredient that this question is referring to is called pearl essence. (Some sources give this as “pearlescence.”) It’s the silvery stuff found in fish scales that’s used in some lipsticks, nail polishes, ceramic glazes, etc., to make them shimmery. Pearl essence is obtained primarily from herring and is one of many by-products of large-scale commercial fish processing. Synthetic versions have been developed, but to what extent they’ve supplanted the natural variety, its hard to say. Fishermen still collect the stuff, though, and one presumes it’s being put to good use.

But just for fun, pearl essence is just one of a long list of unsuspected animal ingredients in cosmetics. If you think fish scales in lipstick is gross, get a load of cerebrosides, used in skin-care products to create a smoother skin surface, increase moisture retention, heighten “luminosity,” etc. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “the raw material for cerebrosides in cosmetics comes from cattle, oxen, or swine brain cells or other nervous-system tissues!”

But for all you ladies who may be bothered by this sort of thing you might want to get your cosmetics from environmentally aware companies such as Aveda. Your Thoughts?

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