I recently did a post about being vegan where I mentioned part of the lifestyle is avoiding cosmetic products with animal ingredients. This is always a crazy conversation to have with non-vegans that leaves even the most die-hard meat-eaters grossed out. You would be shocked to learn about the ingredients companies use and hide under fancy names.

Here are just a few interesting things you can find in your makeup:

Crushed Beetles

Also known as Carmine, Cochineal Dye is a dye collected from crushed Dactylopius Coccus or cochineal beetles. The insects feed on the red berries of cactus plants in Central and South America. When the beetles are crushed, a strong red dye is produced. You can find this in most lipsticks and a lot of blush products.

Fish Scales

The official name is Guanine, which is a shimmering crystalline material that’s found in crushed fish scales.  You will find it in most mascaras, nail polishes, and lipsticks.

Animal Fat

This is also known as Tallow, and is a very common ingredient in eye makeup, lipstick, makeup bases, and foundations. This product is acquired by boiling the carcasses of slaughtered animals until a fatty substance is produced. Good luck getting that image out of your mind the next time you sit down to put on your make-up!

Hair Grease from Sheep

Yes, you read that right. Lanolin is the excretion from wool-bearing mammals and is found in most lipsticks and makeup removers. Imagine you didn’t wash your hair for about a year and then combed out the grease and applied it to your face.

Shark Liver

I find this one especially horrible given the dangers our oceans already face with the shrinking shark populations due to overfishing, but apparently this is still happening. The official term is Squalene, and it is extracted from the livers of sharks and then added to your eye makeup and lipsticks.

I was reading on PETA’s web site and learned that, “The Food and Drug Administration recently told cosmetics makers to stop using the brains and spinal cord tissue from older cows in products like lipstick and hair spray in order to try to prevent the spread of mad cow disease to humans.” However, apparently it is fine if the ingredients come from cows younger than 30 months of age. Let’s use the babies – what a great idea!

Want to know more? Read PETA’s factsheet about hidden animal ingredients.