Oct 30, 2007

Make your own lipstick

For the health-conscious among us.
Of course, wearing lipstick is hardly a modern phenomenon: Babylonian beauties were puckering up in ancient Mesopotamia 5000 years ago. Back then, lipstick could be rather hazardous. The ancient Egyptians created theirs using a mixture of a plant dye called Fucus-Algin, a dash of iodine and some bromine mannite. It produced a lovely red colour, but was unfortunately quite toxic, and often led to serious illness.

Other popular ingredients included a red dye made from crushed cochineal beetles, and fish scales - added for their pearlescent effect. Surprisingly, both of these are still used in commercial lipsticks and lip glosses today. And though bromine mannite isn't on the ingredients list any more, modern products may still contain substances we'd rather avoid. A recent study by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, an American pressure group, raised concerns about the amount of lead found in one third of red lipsticks tested. Castor oil, used as a base ingredient in many lipsticks, can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea if too much is ingested.
How much lipstick would you have to ingest, do you think, to come down with diarrhea? And what's the matter with fish scales and crushed beetles? We can all use the extra protein.

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