Luxury beauty brand Hourglass Cosmetics recently launched Confession Refillable Lipstick Red 0, a true red lipstick shade made with vegan carmine. The cruelty-free brand worked with its parent company Unilever for three years to develop a vegan alternative to carmine—an ingredient used in cosmetics and foods for its red coloring. Traditional carmine is made from the crushed up bodies of cochineal beetles and it requires killing 70,000 of these bugs to make one pound of carmine. Hourglass’ new bug-free shade retails at $40 and comes in a limited-edition case that is adorned with a cochineal beetle to pay tribute to the animal who has been needlessly slaughtered in the name of beauty. 

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Hourglass goes vegan

It takes approximately 1,000 crushed beetles to make one tube of lipstick, a fact that did not sit well with Hourglass founder and CEO Carisa Janes. “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,” Janes told The Zoe Report. “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.”

In 2017, Hourglass made a commitment to become a fully vegan brand and put out a call to ingredient innovators to help it find suitable replacements for beeswax, lanolin (a wax secreted from animals used for wool), and carmine. In addition to Red 0, the brand currently offers a variety of vegan products, including lipsticks, eye shadows, cleansers, and makeup brushes. Additionally, Hourglass Cosmetics works in partnership with the Nonhuman Rights Project to donate a portion of its profits to help the animal-rights organization fight for legal protections for nonhuman animals.