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Carmine is prized for its brilliant red color and staining powers. The powerful pigment is made by extracting carminic acid from female cochineal insects, which feed on prickly pear cacti in Central and South America and the Canary Islands. Before giving into any bug-related heebie-jeebies, please consider the alternative option for a vibrant red hue: petroleum or coal-derived FD&C colorants that are legally permitted to contain lead and other heavy metals. Yuck!
The Aztecs and indigenous peoples of South America were using carmine for its brilliant - and colorfast - red color long before the Spanish Conquistadores arrived. Once they did, however, carmine quickly became part of the trans-Atlantic trade, and was incorporated into European products; it has been a mainstay of cosmetics pigments ever since.
While carmine has no known health risks, a small number of allergic reactions to it have been reported. Please discontinue use of products (and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org) should a reaction occur.