I can’t tell you how totally thrilled I am with this recipe. I’ve been trying to devise a recipe for lip stain for months. I have thrown out so much pink and red goop since January that I was beginning to lose hope. But then, a new colourant (that was always the problem), and success!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
You’ll also see why we have to use carmine in this recipe!
Lipstick may be the most popular way to take your lips from normal to deeply hued, but I’m not convinced it’s the best solution (my stuff is pretty great, though). Anyhow, regardless of homemade or otherwise, it comes off rather easily (not good for white clothing, glassware, or whomever you’re kissing), and that’s annoying. I am not the kind of person who remembers (or can be bothered with) re-applying every hour when I’m out.
So, lip stain seemed like the perfect solution. I’m thinking of what happens when you drink too much red Kool-Aid—genuinely stained lips. No gloss, no creamy goo, just your lips, only redder.
First off, I knew I needed a strong red colourant in liquid form. Water soluble as to absorb into the lips faster. My options for colour were initially red iron oxide and rosehips botanical extract. Oxides are not water soluble—in soaps they work by suspension, not by dissolving into the soap. Rosehip botanical extract is water-alcohol soluble, so I set out to make an infusion in water and glycerin and see what happened…
I could (and probably will) write an entire blog entry on all my failed attempts at making lip stain. I threw out a lot of pink and red goop after the many different colouring things I tried totally failed to dissolve, failed to adhere to my lips, or had absolutely no coverage, so I would just end up pushing clumps of reddish coloured goop around my lips in frustration, or watching as pinkish water vanished into my skin without a trace. Argh.
But, low and behold, I found one that worked! Carmine! I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first brushed on the stain and it took—sheer joy, especially after all the pink goop I’d thrown out over the last few months. Real, wonderful lip stain! I am so, SO thrilled. WOO!
Want to watch this project instead of read it?
You’ll also see why we have to use carmine in this recipe!
Snow White Lip Stain
1/32 tsp carmine
~½ tsp cold water
¼ tsp vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
1 drop liquid germall plus (or other broad spectrum preservative)
Mix small amounts of cold water into the carmine, a wee bit at a time, until you have a bright, red/pink liquid. Mix in the glycerin, and then add any extra water to get a thickness that’s similar to that of room-temperature olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada).
Store in a small 5mL bottle and apply with a little lip brush. Be sure to apply to dry lips—not bone dry and peeling, but there should be no lip balm or any other oil-based product on them. You’ll be able to tell if there is because the lip stain will just bead up on top of your lips and won’t paint on. If that happens, wipe those lips down and re-apply the lip stain. Feel free to pat on a bit of lip balm or lip gloss after it dries to add a bit of shine and additional moisture.
As with all recipes where I make a big deal about the individual ingredients (and especially since there are only three), for the love of all things successful and wonderful, do not make any substitutions in this recipe.
Did you by any chance try this with the Australian Red Reef clay? I like the idea of a lip stain over a lipstick (because, like you, I can’t be bothered to keep reapplying it) but I actually prefer the color left by the clay. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, or any experiments you may have already tried.
I have tried it—the biggest problem I ran into is that clay dries. As this happens it 1) shifts in colour (to a dark, reddish brown) and 2) pulls moisture from your lips (it’s what clay is good for, after all). So, my conclusion (for now, at least, I’m always experimenting!) is that the clay is better as a colourant in an oil-based lip something or other, where the oil will keep the clay from shifting to brown as it dries, and will protect your lips from having all the moisture vampired out of them.
Wow, love this!! Will carmine come through in soap? I am sure you’ve tried it or plan to in your soap making adventures.
I’m sure carmine will come through in soap, but I’ve never tried it because it’s so expensive! At about $15/tbsp, I’ll stick with red oxide, which is mucho cheaper than carmine.
I really want to try this! Where do you get the ground carmine??
I got mine from Saffire Blue. Have fun!
Just wondering…carmine is made from insects, correct? I think it’s an ingredient in commercial lipsticks. It certainly could be considered a “natural” product.
Yup, it’s ground up bugs. It’s a very classic/standard “natural” colourant and is supposedly squirreled away in a lot of food under the “natural colourings” ingredient label.
I made this and absolutely love the color. But the stain rubbed off almost instantly. Could you tell what to tweak when I try again.
That is one gorgeous pucker!
I love the name you chose. I’m going to make you some of that foot scrub with shea butter in it and give it to you in August. Hope last weekend went well!
Aww, thanks Ruth *blush*. See you in August!
wow great post i love it its great for someone that dosent like to use the harsh chemicals in the lipstick
Thanks, Krystel! I love that I was able to get this down to just 3 ingredients.
This is great! Where did you get the carmine?
I got mine from Saffire Blue, Evie.
I really like that color – seems very close to MAC’s Russian Red that I so love. I’m doubly motivated to make this since a friend borrowed my RR and never returned it! Question: do you experience “bleeding” when you use your lip tints/sticks? I’m just wondering if these require a lip liner or some kind or not.
How cool! I never really buy commercial make-up so I’ll take your word for it 😉 There can be a bit of bleeding with this if you apply it generously and it runs before it can dry, so a lip liner would probably be a good idea. Just keep in mind that the oil based lip liner and the lip stain will not mix at all—the lip stain will bead and run away from anything oily.
Oooh, gotcha. Didn’t think about that. When I make it and test drive it I’ll be sure to remember that. I’m waiting on a vintage hairstyling book with looks from the 20’s to 60’s and can’t wait to pair this lip stain with some Victory Rolls!
Ooh, that sounds just beautiful! I am totally enamoured with looks and hairstyles from the past 🙂 I’m currently working on a series of posts on the Edwardian era, and have been going out with the cutest Gibson-girl inspired hairstyles as of late 😛
Wow, that is amazing!! That is great that you figured it out and I liked reading the explanation of why it worked. Do you think there is anything that would stain lips a pinkish-brown?
I haven’t found anything yet, Natalie. I collected at least 10 different natural reddish colourants for this lip stain (well, the experiments, at least) and this is the only thing that worked. You may be looking at a lipstick instead. Stay tuned, though, I’m always experimenting!
WOW! I really love that color. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes. I love everything you share on here. =)
Thanks, Karla 🙂 I had a lot of fun with this one, and as Edison once said (more or less…), I now know many ways how not to make lip stain as well!
Deborah, in short…yes. Carmine is made from cochineal beetles.
It’s a very VERY old way to colour lips (and so it surprised me slightly that it wasn’t the first option, from a historical buff! 🙂 )
😛 I couldn’t source it, Dawn! I ordered some the second I found a supplier 😉
I see you purchased Carmine from Saffire Blue! Don’t you just love that store? They are AWESOME! I shop there ALL the time 🙂
So much love! I already have another cart loaded up with goodies from them 😀
OMG! Did you know that …. oh I just read that you do indeed know 🙂 It’s a lovely color, stunning in fact but yeah… no thanks!
“Carmine is a natural dye which is made from the dried bodies of a female insect called the Cochineal (Coccus Cacti)”
Yup, haha. It’s a very common natural colourant—unless you are very diligent I am sure you’ve used it in lipstick at some point in time, or eaten it in something hidden under the label “natural colourants”. That’s why I’m not too worried about it—I’m sure I’m exposed to all the time anyways 😛 Plus, it’s way better than the various petroleum derived alternatives!
Where do you get your ingredients? I’m not versed in DIY cosmetic stuff so I have no clue where to start xD
I buy most of my ingredients from New Directions Aromatics.
I tried this recipe and replaced the carmine with beet powder. Not successful for me. Beet powder color is just burgandy red water that doesn’t stay on my skin.
Also, the beet powder was hard to disolve in cold water. I even tried warm water but no luck. Am I doing something wrong?
I like this recipe material because there’s fewer ingredients, but my beet powder experiment wasn’t successful. Any luck with beet powder for you?
So…. the thing you’re doing wrong is using beetroot powder 😛 In the blog I feel like I make a pretty big deal about how the carmine is the #1 most super important ingredient in this 3-ingredient recipe, and I’m not exaggerating! In developing this recipe I tried… hmm: red oxide, rosehip powder, beetroot powder, Australian red clay, hibiscus powder, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, and a few other things I’ve forgotten and none of them came anywhere close to working 🙁 I threw out SO much red goo (and I have so many red powders sitting in my basement)! I was especially sad about the rosehip powder, as I just loved the idea of a rosehip lip stain (and the name is all that really matters, right?). So… yeah. Get yourself some carmine, it really is the magical ingredient here! No more struggling with solubility just to push watery clumps of reddish water around your face. Carmine is in a league of its own as a colourant (probably why it’s been such a popular ingredient in lipsticks for ages)—you’ll fall in love with it, I promise!
Does this stain need a perserative because it contains water? Or it is just a stain you make when you use? Also does this dry slow enough that I could use it as a cheek stain and blend it?
I generally only make a couple milliliters of this at a time and try to use it quickly. That said, the batch I made back in May is still going strong, with no signs of spoiling—this may be because there’s not much in there for mould to be interested in (no sugars or oils)? I’m not really sure, truthfully. It probably helps that it’s pretty cool up here, so it’s practically semi-refrigerated most of the time 😛
If you worked relatively quickly and dabbed it across your cheeks (rather than applying all in one spot), you should be able to get a nice blended blushy/cheek stain look 🙂
Thanks so much for answering my questions, I just wanted to know before I purchase carmine because it is quite pricey.
Yeah, at ~$14/10g it’s pretty steep. But then I started to think about how Benefit’s “benetint” is $30/12mL, and how theirs has parabens and all kinds of other suspicious stuff, and how I could probably make close to 10x the volume of lip stain with $14 of carmine, and it really started to seem like a great deal 😛
I didn’t want to commit to a whole lot of carmine, but I really wanted to try this recipe and the lip gloss version. TKB Trading (tkbtrading.com) sells a mini bag for 5 bucks. Just enough for a handful of recipes! Looks like they also send repeat customers some freebies to get their opinions on new products too.
That’s awesome! I look forward to hearing what you think of it 🙂
The lip gloss is gloriously pink! I forgot the glycerin in the staIn mini test I did so it definitely dried out quickly, but the color was so amazing that’ll I will be making another round correctly and wearing it out soon! Quite an amazing color, and so glad I found a trial baggie of the carmine to play with.
Wonderful! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it 🙂
Bless you for all of your hard work!!! I’ve just recently become allergic to commercial lipsticks *gasp* and for a makeup geek…this is not a good thing. Benefit has a lip stain but I truly don’t want to spend $30 for a small bottle of it. I cannot wait to try this. You may have just saved this makeup fiends life. 🙂
Sorry to hear you’ve developed an allergy—do you know which ingredient disagrees with you? I have a few lipstick recipes that should be pretty innocuous that you might want to try as well 🙂 But I’m thrilled to hear you’re getting into making your own make-up, that’s super awesome—and I think you’ll really enjoy knowing everything that’s in them, and how much cheaper it all is when you do it yourself! Have fun & feel free to reach out with any questions 🙂
I made this, and it isn’t as red. It’s kind of pink. And doesn’t dry, so when I blot off the excess there’s barely any color left on my lips. What am I doing wrong?
Hey Angela—It sounds like this is just a simple application problem that can be easily solved! I’m going to go ahead and assume you made the recipe just as stated. Because the lip stain has no opacity to it (just colour), the shade of red/pink you’ll get out the end will be influenced by the colour of your lips, so that would likely explain the colour difference. When applying, use a small brush and apply to exfoliated (but dry) lips. If you have any lip balm on (or anything else with oil in it), the lip stain will just bead on top of it and never absorb into your skin (because it can’t get to your skin) or dry. You should not have to blot off any excess as it should all absorb/dry. Hope that helps!
I also want to mention that carmine can come in many colours (from orangy to purple) because it changes colours with pH. So the colour of your lips can affect the results, and the colour of the powder also might not be exactly the same.
I’m having a similar issue with this recipe, it just won’t dry no matter how little I apply it always stays “wet” a smudges off easily and bleeds all over my teeth (scary stuff lol). I followed your directions for application to the letter but still no luck 🙁
I’m afraid you’ve already got the sum total of all my knowledge about wearing this lip stain :/ You might be more of a lip paint lady—the recipe is in my book and it wears AMAZINGLY!
Marie, I really do love your blog, you seem like the nicest and most lovable person; I have a silly question now, I was really excited and obsessed with this particular recipe, I bought the vegetable glycerin just for that, but now I can’t find carmine anywhere to buy, on none of the European Amazon sites, nothing. I will keep trying though. But now, could you please just direct me to your other posts of recipes involving glycerin? I really can’t find them on your site, though I am sure I have read recipes involving it before, I just can’t come across them again right now and it’s just sitting on my brain. What else can I do with vegetable glycerin, now that I have it? (and it’s a big bottle : ) ). All my love, Maria
Aww shucks, thanks Maria 🙂 I’m blushing over here! Luckily for you, vegetable glycerin is super useful! Here’s a few other recipes that use it:
That should get you started! You can also just search for “glycerin” using the search bar at the top of the left hand column, and all the recipes that pop up should contain glycerin 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Haha, now, in both my defense and humiliation, of course I had used the search bar to find the recipes on your blog…but just now, after reading your reply I tried it again and realized I was misspelling glycerin every single time and that’s why nothing showed. duuh, thank you. I don’t always pay attention and am impulsive also, the perfect mix!
Hahahah, no worries! “Glycerine” is a totally acceptable spelling variation (I think…)… I just don’t use it.
Hi, I love your website and am really looking forward to trying this. However I am struggling with finding carmine locally and I have madder root in the cupboard. Did you try madder as a colourant?
I did—nothing botanical worked 🙁 It just produces a sort of pale brown/reddish liquid that doesn’t do anything. Bummer, eh?
I find in soap you need to dissolve madder root in a bit of lye water to get a good red. TY for the quick response 🙂
Awesome, thanks for the heads up! I will definitely have to try that around Valentine’s Day 😉
I’ve been doing some research into vegan alternatives, and so far I have come across LycoRed (which I haven’t been able to find sourced in small batches), and purple sweet potato extract. I am currently looking into it, but maybe you know of somewhere other than NDA that might have these odds and ends of DIY cosmetics? I would appreciate it!
OOh, awesome, thanks LaurenAnn! The only other place I can think of for random ingredients is the Formulator Sample Shop. I’ve never shopped with them, but I’ve heard good things from some readers.
Thanks for the referral. Sadly, they do not carry the purple variety. I’m now looking into whether it is possible to make my own purple potato extract… I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m not a vegan, but I think in this particular instance the veggie variety is more sustainable. Though they said that using veggies as dyes, which are liquid soluble, must be added in much larger quantities to even compete with the color concentration of carmine… Also, I’m thinking it may be along the same lines as beet extract,which according to your comments,doesn’t work!! We shall see!
Hmmm… damn 🙁 I’ll keep my eye out. But yes, in my experience, all plant based dyes were total failures for this lip stain. I tried beet, hibiscus, and rosehip, and all of them made brightly coloured water that just went on as water on my skin. No dying like effect… no colour at all, really. Even far into paste territory, it was still hopeless 🙁
Once my sis started playing with rose petals and a pestle and ended up with rose-coloured stained fingers. Legend tells rose petals were in the original formula of Benetint… Have you tried them, Marie?
I haven’t, Ana, but I shall add it to my list of things to play with in the summer as we have a gigantic rose bush. It is a very pale one, though, so I may get more of a pale lip tint than a stain. I made some rose petal infused honey in the summer and they didn’t tint the honey at all. I really have had absolutely no luck with botanical colourants (beetroot, rosehip, and hibiscus… and others I have likely forgotten), though, so I’m not all that convinced roses would be much different :/
Just wanted to say I love, love, love your blog! I grumble so often when I see site after site of formulations that were someone’s first try they thought was “good enough”, or they’ve added unnecessary ingredients for novelty. You set a higher standard I wish others would match! Like other commenters, I thought of beetroot power until I read your responses about having tried so many options- so appreciated from someone who gets to enjoy the results of your effort! It’s really exciting to now go through your blog on a treasure hunt, knowing that a “beginning with the end in mind” mentality of the lip stain quest must mean other ‘recipes’ are top-notch! Now I’m embarrassed about using so many exclamation points, a writer’s no-no. But they were all deserved, so I stand by it 🙂
Thank you so much, Lisa 😀 Your wonderful comment made my day! I’m so thrilled that you appreciate all the effort I put into my recipes & agree with me that “good enough isn’t” 😛 And I can’t fault you for your exclamation points when they are used in my praise 😉 Have fun & feel free to get in touch if you ever have any questions!
I’ve just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! As you, I’m also a DIY cosmetic person, and it seems like a sign from the universe I found this recipe when I was searching for a red (a really RED) lipstick for my marriage.
I love the carmine colour (and to he honest, I prefer crushed beetles than petrochemical stuff on my skin) but my only concern about this is, being this recipe water soluble, wouldn’t it go away in a few tongue passings when it dissolves on your saliva?
I’ve seen carmine powder dispersed in oils to use as a colour in lipsticks, but I never thought a water-soluble colour could stay in your lips for long.
Thank you for your answer and greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland! (I’m Spaniard but I live in Scotland, that’s life !! XD)
Happy Christmas and Happy Hogmanay 😀
Hi Maria—always great to meet another DIYer 🙂 And I am so jealous of your location, I absolutely love Edinburgh. I’ve been twice and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
The brilliant thing about this lip stain is that it really does stain your lips. You have to be careful not to apply it when you have oil on your lips (right after applying lip balm, for instance) so it can sink straight into your skin. But then you’re good for quite some time! You can scrub/wipe it off, but I’ve worn it to parties and had wine and cheese and what not, and it’s lasted quite well through all that. If you go swimming it’ll dissolve off and vanish, but as long as you aren’t licking your lips you should be totally fine 🙂
Have fun & happy Christmas!
Lovely! Can I try Hibiscus powder for this!?
Sadly no 🙁 Carmine is the #1 most super important ingredient in this 3-ingredient recipe, and I’m not exaggerating! In developing this recipe I tried… hmm: red oxide, rosehip powder, beetroot powder, Australian red clay, hibiscus powder, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, and a few other things I’ve forgotten and none of them came anywhere close to working 🙁 I threw out SO much red goo (and I have so many red powders sitting in my basement)! I was especially sad about the rosehip powder, as I just loved the idea of a rosehip lip stain (and the name is all that really matters, right?). So… yeah. Get yourself some carmine, it really is the magical ingredient here! No more struggling with solubility just to push watery clumps of reddish water around your face. Carmine is in a league of its own as a colourant (probably why it’s been such a popular ingredient in lipsticks for ages)—you’ll fall in love with it, I promise!
Just saw an earlier post about the Hibiscus powder…after I started experimenting…
I like it…sort of, the only thing is the powder didn’t dissolve so well 🙁 I got some color but some crumbs also, so far the local health food market doesn’t carry carmine 🙁 The color was bold before I had to rinse the crumbs away…I tried letting it dry before removing them…but not so successful. I will try to hunt down some carmine.
Yeah, darn, eh? Hibiscus powder was so promising, too. I’ll have to give it a go in cosmetics. You aren’t likely to find carmine at a health food store, so I’d check online—I got mine at Saffire Blue. Good luck!
I have been waiting for my carmine to arrive for ages! It arrived today, quickly made the lip stain, love it! i also used it dab on my checks as a bit of blush. When i went to the chemist and asked for vegetable glycerine, they only had glycerine – is that the same thing?
thank you for you blog, its fantastic, cant wait to try more things.
Fantastic! I love this as a bit of a cheek stain as well, it blends beautifully and looks really natural.
The major difference between vegetable glycerine and plain glycerine is the origin. Vegetable glycerin is from plants, where plain glycerin is from petroleum products or animal fats. Vegetable glycerine is probably the better option to have near your mouth, or anywhere on your body, really, but the non-plant-based stuff should be fine as well.
Thanks for reading & DIYing with me!
Hey, I got the carmine but forgot to purchase little bottles to put the lip stain in! so the bottles are on the way.. but till then do you think that carmine would work for like a beeswax lipstick recipe ?
Haha, whoops! I ended up using a washed-out emptied 5mL essential oil bottle for mine after having the same thought a bit too late 😛 Since carmine is water soluble I wouldn’t recommend using it in an oil-based concoction. I haven’t tried it myself because the stuff is so darn expensive, but I did try a beetroot lipstick (beetroot powder is also water soluble) and it was awful. I’m terrified to do the same with carmine and waste it. That said, Saffire Blue sells a liquid carmine tint that is oil based, so I’m not quite sure how they managed that… hmm.
i tried making beetroot powder lipstick and it was the worst! yesterday i went ahead and tried using the carmine in a lip balm recipe and it made a tinted lip balm, and then i tried again with more beeswax to see what would happen and the color did come through like a lipstick but it wasnt too great lol
cant wait for my red reef clay to come in the mail so i can try your lipstick recipe 🙂
Did you find the carmine dissolved in the oils? Or did you have something water based in your lip balm?
The red reef clay is super fun to play with 🙂 Be sure to play with blending it with lighter clays as well, as it can be very dark for people with lighter complexions.
Thank you!! This post was seriously a breath of fresh air! So hard to find good diy makup blogs that are actually honest.
I’m just wondering- is there anything you would suggest adding to this that would neutralize the pink in this color a bit? Are there any brown or even green dyes that have similar properties? I would love a slightly more neutral red- any pink tone in my makeup clashes with my skintone like crazy
Hi Zoe! I’m so glad you’ve found my wee corner of the internet 🙂 I have not had any luck finding dyes as potent as carmine in any other colours. You can try mixing in some of the coloured botanical extracts to temper the colour. You can also use less carmine for a less potent red/pink shade. If you aren’t opposed to the FD&C dyes, those are also an option, though be careful to avoid the ones that are proven to be hazardous.
You may also want to try this straight-up as it is. Because it isn’t opaque the colour of the skin you apply it to really does make a difference. This definitely is more red than pink, so you may find it works for you on its own.
So if I want a pink stain, not red, am I out of luck? Maybe use less carmine? Maybe water soluble titanium dioxide? But would that absorb into lips? Thanks in advance for your experience and wisdom! Sarah
I think your best bet would be to use less carmine. I’ve had good success getting a darker colour using more, so I’m sure it swings the other was as well 🙂 Thanks for reading & DIYing with me!
Very interesting, thank you. You know, I’ve actually been trying to research the safety of various colorants, trying to find something that is totally non-toxic and edible for lipsticks, and I’m having a hard time understanding why lip colorants wouldn’t have to be entirely edible… I mean, there’s no way to avoid congesting it, really.
Wouldn’t the FD&C dyes actually be better? Since they’ve been approved for use in food? I always buy food grade oils because they face stricter regulation than cosmetic-grade.
Carmine is actually a food additive as well—I’m not sure how you’d go about discerning if it’s food grade or not, but it’s quite common (and the bane of vegans, I imagine). Clay is a pretty safe bet as well—bentonite clay is an FDA approved food additive. Also, when you think about it, people have been using clays and carmine for thousands of years, which is generally a pretty good endorsement. They are both easily processed from naturally occurring sources.
The reason I don’t use FD&C dyes is because they are derived from coal tar and petroleum. Also, loads of them were thought to be safe, and now suddenly aren’t, so just because they’re approved for food use now doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be found to be downright awful in ten years.
Something you should know about food grade oils is that they aren’t all just the same thing as cosmetic grade, but with stricter standards. The oil has often been produced differently in a way that is designed to optimize flavour, not the benefit of the oil on the skin. Olive oil is pretty much the same, but oils pressed from nuts generally vary as the food grade oil has the nut roasted before pressing. This gives the food grade oil a stronger smell and flavour, but also destroys some of the vitamins and antioxidants. So, food grade is not always better than cosmetic grade in those situations.
I received powdered carmine and made the lip stain – amazing! However, for some reason it lasts longer on my bottom lip than top. Can the carmine powder be used as colorant in place of the clay in the Fall Leaves lipstick? Thanks!
Hi Sheri! I find it’s generally something in wear patterns when it comes to how long the stain lasts, and where. Perhaps you are subconsciously licking your lips?
Carmine isn’t oil soluble, so I wouldn’t waste such an expensive ingredient by blending it with oils.
Carmine is made from crushed up bugs called cochineal, which can cause some people to have an allergic reaction. You can make a lip stain from Kool-Aid and other drink powders like Crystal Lite, and it cost a whole lot cheaper, is faster to get, and you have a much wider array of shades to choose from (from a dark beet like tint to a bright ruby red tint.) So why put a product made out of crushed up bugs on your mouth when you and risk having an allergic reaction when you can just use something that you probably already have?
You’re right, carmine = bugs, more or less. Kool Aid, however, is coloured using artificial dyes derived from coal tar and petroleum products, many of which have been linked to health scares and behavioral changes far scarier and more broad-based than allergic reactions. I’m much happier using bugs than something totally artificial—especially since I definitely don’t keep Kool Aid around the house. Yuck.
You could also use different types of berries for a lip stain. Not only is the color beautiful, it’s all natural, and tastes great. Shailene Woodley from Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars (my favorite book/movie,) uses beats, cherries, and pomegranates for when she goes on the red carpet.
Hi JazzyJazz—I have played around with fruit and plant based colourants for lip stain, and they just don’t work like carmine does 🙁 They lack the pigment punch, and while they can definitely stain your clothes, I have had no luck making a lip stain using beetroot or rosehip that actually stains skin—it’s just colourful water.
I notice that saffire blue sells carmine as a powder and as a liquid form. it says its for use as a lip tint. have you tried it yet? do you think it would work? Thank you.
I have both, and while I prefer the powder for lip stains, you can just paint the liquid stuff on in a pinch and it works quite well 🙂
what is the difference with using vegetable glycerin or plain glycerin? I want to know if either makes a difference for the recipe. Also i can’t find a measuring spoon that’s 1/32 of a teaspoon; is there a larger amount/recipe you can share or the 1/32 tsp is the largest someone should go to make a good amount of the stain?
I’m going to try this stain out for my birthday tomorrow, I’m very excited to try it 🙂 thanks !!
Hi Tiffany! Chemically, there is no difference—the “vegetable” part is simply a gaurantee that the glycerin was not derived from animal or petroleum products.
I’d recommend checking Amazon or a specialty cooking shop for a set of pinch/nip/smidgen measuring spoons for your DIY projects. I have found mine to be endlessly useful, especially for projects like this one. This recipe will easily last me for upwards of 30–40 applications, which for me is 6+ months. Unless you wear copious quantities of lip stain, I don’t recommend increasing the recipe yeild (especially with the relatively high cost of carmine, and especially for your first batch).
This seems like the perfect thing for me! I’ve always wanted a lip tint that’ll give me a nice, natural, rosy pink tint to my lips and I think this is it (as long as I use a very slight amount of carmine though!) I was wondering one thing though:
Is the glycerin what makes it apply evenly? Because I added carmine to water and when I put it on my lips, it was completely uneven.
Hi ZEze! The glycerin doesn’t really help with even application, it helps with the feel of the lip stain once it’s been on for longer than about 25 seconds (otherwise I find it to be unbearably drying quite quickly). Even application comes from thoroughly and evenly dissolving the carmine, and applying with a clean, good brush. It might take a bit of practice, but I find applying the stain quickly and cleanly helps.
Hi, Marie! Happy new year! I’ve been following your blog for a while and trying to diy in my free time. I tried looking for carmine but the thing is the only reasonably priced (3,5 euros for 5ml) form I have found is something aroma-zone calls “red kiss” and its inci is:Carmine (CI 75470), Helianthus annuus seed oil , Maltodextrin. I thought carmine was water soluble. Their website has recipes for lipsticks and glosses but could it be possible to make a lip stain with this other than use it straight from the bottle?
Hi Sophie! Carmine is water soluble, but then I have a dye that sounds a lot like the one you’re talking about from Saffire Blue, and it’s oil soluble (and I’m not sure what they’ve done to make it so). It does make a pretty great lip stain on its own, though 🙂
Sophie, I got a 2.5 gram bag of powdered carmine for $2.50 off of tkbtrading.com. It’s just enough for a few of these carmine inspired recipes, and doesn’t kill your credit card 🙂 They also have the liquid version, which I bought but haven’t gotten around to trying out yet.
Correction! I have now tried the liquid carmine to color some lip balm. Just a couple drops dyes it a beautiful light pink, but still goes on colorless. Next time I’ll try adding even more and see if it shows up.
Sounds like my experience with the liquid dye in lip balm as well 🙂
Hey 🙂 i was just wondering if there are any preservatives you could use? or does it not need one? if it does are there any natural ones that i could use? if not any natural ones what would be the best one?
Thank you so much 🙂 xx
Hi Paige! I’ve found I don’t need a preservative with this stain, especially because it’s made in such small amounts. I would be hesitant to add one given you’d be very likely to eat it :/
I did my first order from saffire blue recently and added carmine to my cart as I knew you’d featured it in a recipe I wanted to make. When I hunted down this recipe, I realized I bought the liquid carmine instead of the powdered! :O
Can the liquid carmine be used in the same way–mixed with water and vegetable glycerine? If not, could you recommend ingredients to substitute that would work with the liquid carmine? Thank you!!
Hi Erin! In my experience you can actually use the liquid as-is as a lip stain 🙂
I bought carmine powder specifically for this recipe but it didn’t work as planned. 🙁 when I used your exact recipe, the colour was more of a light pink, and wouldn’t dry (I didn’t have any oil on my lips though). However, when I tried it again without the glycerin, it did try and stain my lips, but it was darker in some places than others and I needed a ton of layers to get it anywhere near your opacity/colour.
I did try the powder in a lipstick though and it worked great. There are some little “crumbs” at the bottom of the mix (that I didn’t pour into the tube), but if you use your finger and press on them, they go away. Next time I’ll use a glove and squish them all before adding the beeswax and butters.
Any ideas though about how to make the lipstain work for me?
Hmm. Is the lip stain beading/pooling together in tiny bits on your lips? I have found that can happen if there are trace amounts of oils on your lips—even the smallest amount can make that happen. You can also try increasing the amount of carmine you’re using for a deeper colour. Where did you get your carmine and glycerin? Hmm.
Heya! I was wondering if using less carmine would make more of a pink color? Thanks! 🙂
Yup! The more saturated the solution, the more vibrant the red 🙂
Hey I just wanted to mention for those on a budget that you can buy carmine in the form of dried bugs, and then grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. It’s a lot cheaper this way. I just tested it out and it worked perfectly. I wasn’t sure if it would work since they look grey-black when you get them, but it did! Amazing! And it still dissolves in water. I got mine on Amazon (look for cochineal). I know it’s a little different up in Canada, but it’s still worth looking around.
Thanks for all your wonderful recipes! I was stalled with my homemade makeup and I have made so much progress reading your blog. thanks a million!
Thanks so much for sharing, Becky! This is awesome to know 🙂
Great tip, Becky! I actually bought cochineal from Amazon in the same form you described before I found Marie’s awesome blog. It was actually really hard for me to find cochineal originally, so that’s what I went with. Good to know that this is a more economical way and that I’m not the only one that did it this way!
First off….. I LOOOVVVEE your blog! Seriously! I recently started this journey to the natural side and am loving all of your recipes! After perusing through your lip recipes I noticed you have a base recipe for lip gloss and balm… but do you have a base recipe for lipstick?? I would love to make this shade of red in a lipstick. (I have super fair skin and LOVE bright reds with my skin tone) I did see your other shades but because I am so new to this, didn’t know if I could just use one of those and replace the colors with a carmine red mica that I found?? Thank you!
Hi Sarah! All my lipstick recipes can be seen as “base” recipes—just play with the colourants and leave the oils as is 🙂 Unfortunately, you will probably be sad to hear that carmine is not oil soluble, which is why I’ve never made a carmine lipstick. Micas also aren’t very potent colourants, so I think you will have difficulty getting a lipstick like colour punch with it. You can definitely have fun trying, though 🙂
Is the powdered shimmery? I tried to buy carmine powder but it was Carmine Mica powder, which is shimmery. Do you think you can use that as the base? Thanks 🙂
Hi Rachel! It sounds like you’ve purchased the wrong thing :/ Carmine is definitely not sparkly. It sounds like what you’ve got is a mica that uses FD&C dyes to make it carmine-coloured. It won’t be anywhere as close to as potent of a colourant as carmine, and it’s insoluble. It won’t work here, but you could add it to a lip balm for a tinted lip balm 🙂
Thank you. I tried to go on line and buy the stuff you did but it’s sold out. I’ll keep trying ☺️
This stuff is a good alternative—real carmine at 10% of the cost!
I just did a little googling and find that carmine is made with ground up bugs. ?? 🙁 Gross, I don’t want to put that on my mouth! Think I’ll try beetroot instead.
You’re right, it is bugs. But… did you read the blog? The whole thing is basically about how I tried every red colourant around (including beetroot) and none of them worked. Imagine what your lips look like after drinking a cup of pink herbal tea. That’s roughly the end result.
the colour looks amazing s but the thought that so many bugs being crashed just for a lipstick /’superficial’ beauty feels sad
If you want to avoid carmine be sure to watch out for “natural colouring” in your food; you’ve almost certainly eaten carmine as its a common red food additive 🙂 There are synthetic alternatives (D&C Red No 7) that work pretty well in concoctions with oils, but so far carmine is the only thing I’ve found that works for lip stain.
This is the most FAB-U-LOUS recipe! Absolutely amazing and I love, love, love it! Saffireblue has been out of stock for some time on the carmine. I had a hard time locating it but finally found it on TKBtrading. I was literally trying to figure out how I could get to China or Peru to get my hands on this wonderful carmine powder. This has to be the most effective, easiest lipstain I have ever tried, and I have at leat 18 different commercial products. I love how it lasts forever and fades very evenly and quietly. It’s a beautiful shade. And honestly, the colorant has been around for centuries; it is a very safe product. The alternatives are often petroleum products, and I’d rather have a safely processed, natural alternative like carmine.
Yay! Thank you so much, Karyn! I, too, am utterly smitten with carmine 😀 Nothing compares! Reactions like yours are exactly what I strive for when I formulate cosmetic recipes—you should sign up for the pre-order list for my upcoming book that’s totally packed with makeup recipes 😀 The gel eyeliner is fantastic!
Hello! I would like to ask you if you could give me some hint about achieving great dark purple color, for I can’t figure out how to use purple pigments and stay as natural as possible. Do you know something about it? 🙂
Hey Sarah! If you want something that’s water soluble your best bet would be to look at alkanet root, but it’s nowhere close to as potent as carmine, so you may find it’s difficult to achieve a purpley balance using the two. You won’t get any kind of a stain with just the alkanet root, sadly—that’d be like trying to stain your lips with herbal tea :/
Hi, i would like to ask you ? can i change carmine powder to mixed berries fruit and combine with red mica ?
In the blog I feel like I make a pretty big deal about how the carmine is the #1 most super important ingredient in this 3-ingredient recipe, and I’m not exaggerating! In developing this recipe I tried… hmm: red oxide, rosehip powder, beetroot powder, Australian red clay, hibiscus powder, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, and a few other things I’ve forgotten and none of them came anywhere close to working 🙁 I threw out SO much red goo (and I have so many red powders sitting in my basement)! I was especially sad about the rosehip powder, as I just loved the idea of a rosehip lip stain (and the name is all that really matters, right?). So… yeah. No. No substitutions or you are now just inventing your own recipe. If you want to make this one, and see the same results I got, get yourself some carmine, it really is the magical ingredient here! No more struggling with solubility just to push watery clumps of reddish water around your face. Carmine is in a league of its own as a colourant (probably why it’s been such a popular ingredient in lipsticks for ages)—you’ll fall in love with it, I promise!
Also, read this on comment approvals 🙂
Hey, thanks for the great recipe! I just tried it out, and after some experimenting I have a few tips:
1. Using rose water instead of water. It serves the same purpose and makes the final product smell phenomenal.
2. Adding a little Xanthan gum. Without the Xanthan gum, I had some issues with the stain feathering at the edges of my lip and getting on my teeth. I also wanted something more moisturizing. Xanthan gum solved all three issues and also made the stain easier to apply.
Thanks again, and keep up the great work! 🙂
Ooh, I love both these tips! I’ve even tried them both already 🙂 The xantham is irritatingly clumpy (as always), but once I got it incorporated the extra thickness is pretty cool! Thank you so much for sharing 😀
Hi Marie, thank you for this recipe! Im excited to try it. Can I replace the preservative with others such as sodium benzoate?
You certainly can, but do your research and make sure it is actually a true broad-spectrum preservative. From all my research, sodium benzoate is not. It is often used to boost the performance of other incomplete preservatives, but is not a true preservative on its own. This is a great place to start your research.
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I can’t believe how effective this is. The shade of pink is punchy but so wearable. I mixed and stored this in one of those little 5/8 dram bottles. Adorable. Thanks for the great recipe. Now that I finally have carmine, I will be trying your other carmine recipes. I’m also impatiently awaiting your book, which I preordered months ago… waiting is hard.
Woohoo! I’m so glad you’re loving this 😀 The makeup artist on the photoshoot was really in love with it as well! And I hear you on the waiting; it’s so hard! And so long!
This stain is beautiful! It is the best colour I’ve come across in this shade. The carmine was purchased at Windy Point and I’m really happy with it.
Thank you, Marie.
YAY! I’m so glad 😀 Enjoy!
I would love if you could offer a vegan version of this so I can have an alternative to putting crushed bugs on my face!
As you can see from the post, I tried a lot of non-carmine alternatives. Nothing else has worked, and I have continued my experiments. I think you may need to choose something like the lip paint recipe from my book and use an FD&C lake dye to get this colour and have a vegan final product 🙂
Thanks! Vegan brands do it so a vegan lip stain definitely can be done. I appreciate your suggestion.
Many, many things can be done; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can be done at home, or that I can figure it out 😛 I’m happy with this recipe at this point, so if you want such a thing I’d recommend diving into the experiments yourself 😉 Happy making!
I really love this recipe, but I also love wearing different shades of lipstick, browns, maroons, purples, pinks, reds! Are there other colorants I can use to make different colors that would work for ths recipe to make different colors?
(Total newbie DIYer)
I’m afraid I haven’t found a natural pigment that would work in this—the only thing I’ve found is carmine. FD&C dyes may work, but I haven’t experimented with them much 🙂
Do you have any alternative lip stain recipes that would work with natural dyes of other colors?
Hey. I’m new to this website and I am interested in making the snow white lip stain but I was wondering if I can use other preservatives instead of liquid germal plus. And if so, what brands is it?
Ps…The reason why I ask this is beacause I don’t think if I can buy a liquid germall plus here in our country caise it seems like it is not available here and I also think that in the link that you gave in the description box in your youtube channel about the snow white lip stain does not allow or is not available to ship it here in my country.
This is a hard question to answer because I have no idea what you CAN get. I’d recommend checking here to learn more and see if you can find any of the better reviewed ones.
Hi Marie! I made this lip tint and I love the color and the wear. It’s like the perfect Benetint dupe when diluted! Though I live in California and the tint evaporated so quickly in the summer and left a smell similar to old socks(not a pleasant smell). I didn’t have a preservative so I didn’t add it. Does carmine naturally have a weird smell or did mine go bad? Should I chuck it out? That said your formula is amazing and it certainly works! Thanks!
I’m so, so thrilled you’re enjoying the lip stain! I’m thinking yours went bad, unfortunately. You should check out TKB Trading—they’re in San Fran and have an awe-inspiring collection of pigments and some preservatives 🙂
This is lovely. I watched Titanic yesterday (it’s still lovely!) and I want to thank you for sharing all stunning lip stick pictures of yours! They look amazing on you. I have (or had) a thing for vintage style too / looks with ‘old world feel’ but I’m too lazy these days. 😛
Oh, for those who live in Europe (essp in EU country) – I did some digging about year ago and found out that aroma-shoppe.eu has cheap carmine. I purchased mine from there (1 oz) and it’s awesom. It propably lasts ages.
Thanks so much, Johanna! I think I purchased some carmine from there as well as it was very well priced and holy moly carmine lasts ages… I still haven’t opened that carmine as I haven’t yet finished the bag it was replacing lol.
I’m so excited to try this!!! I’ve been experimenting for several years now to get the perfect lip stain, but have yet to find it. I’ve never used carmine powder though, so I’m excited to see how that goes. It looks like it works well on you!
Just curious…have you ever tried making it with Aloe Vera gel and glycerine? I’ll try it your way, but I want to see how it goes with my idea too. I’m hoping it works well, and should theoretically keep the lips moisturized longer too (I hope!).