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Did you know? Weird but harmless makeup ingredients

Elizabeth Mitchell is a freelance fashion and beauty writer living in Los Angeles. A graduate of New York University, she regularly contributes to The Fashion Spot, The Luxury Spot and authors the Star Style column for StyleBakery Teen. ...

Strange science

Ever wondered what all those wacky and weird ingredients on the back of your beauty products really are? While some may sound super scientific, you'd be surprised at their true meaning. But don't freak out, we promise they're totally harmless.
Woman reading makeup labels

From the yucky to the downright brain boggling, esthetician and founder of BijaBody health+beauty Melissa Picoli breaks down some of the strangest makeup ingredients you've ever heard of. We hope we don't gross you out too much!

1

Dimethicone: Silicon oil

Found in many makeup lines, dimethicone (a man-made silicon oil) is a harmless ingredient that improves the look and feel of your makeup. It helps seal in moisture, making it a nice ingredient in dry climates. Additionally, it's used in many shampoos and conditioners to give your hair that shiny look!

2

Carmine: Beetle skeletons

Have a perfect red lipstick, flushed blush or eyeshadow you love? Chances are, there's carmine (a red pigment/dye) in there! Natural? Yes. Vegan? No. However, it is harmless. Believe it or not, carmine is derived from the crushed exoskeletons of tiny female beetles. Yep, it has to be females. Crazy, right?

3

Guanine: Fish scales

If there's anything that proves that all that glitters definitely isn't gold, it's the color additive guanine. Basically made from ground-up fish scales, this stuff produces a shimmering or light-diffusing coloring ingredient and can be found in products like mascara, lipstick and nail polish.

4

Squalene: Shark liver oil

Next time you go to pick up lip balm, lipstick, sunscreen or your fave facial moisturizer, do yourself a quick favor and check the ingredient list for squalene, AKA shark liver oil! Although it sounds super sick, this stuff is actually extremely moisturizing, easily absorbed and doesn't leave your skin with that dreaded greasy feeling. However, the methods used to derive squalene are pretty unethical.

5

Tallow: Animal fat

Tallow, an ingredient made from rendering animal fat that's collected after boiling carcasses from road kill (yep, seriously!), lab animals and dead zoo animals, is an unfortunate and disgusting, though non-toxic, skin emollient and conditioning agent used in makeup products such as lipstick and eyeshadow. Icky, we know…

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