Milly’s Top 5: Grossest animal-derived ingredients


1. Guanine (pearl essence). This pretty little additive is mostly known for its usage in shampoos, shimmers, nail polishes and lipsticks. If you buy something in the cosmetics aisle that is said to make you “shine”, you may want to look out for this ingredient.

Why? Because the stuff you’re about to put on your head is made of good old-fashioned, 100% pure ground-up fish scales.

Not as keen as before? Look for alternative ingredients, such as leguminous plants, synthetic pearl or aluminum/bronze particles.

2. Isinglass. The next time you’re sitting down or dolling up and looking forward to a nice glass of wine, you might want to bookmark this page. Isinglass is a “clearing” agent and a form of gelatin.


Well let’s not be hasty here. You can lose the imagery of cow legs and pig tendons in a cauldron, for now, because that would be completely inappropriate. Isinglass isn’t made of cow’s hooves! It’s made of the insides of fish bladders, and can be found in many of your favourite white, red or sparkling wines, and beer.


3. Keratin. This is another famous cosmetic ingredient that may just be at its peak, with a popular brand of haircare named after it. You can rest assured that you are getting your money’s worth with this one—there are no dreggy fruits or exploitative leaves contained! What you’re rubbing in your scalp for only 50 bucks a piece are the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals. Just don’t ask which, because you probably won’t get a straight answer. For mental imagery’s sake, you can probably pick between the cow you fed at the petting zoo, the horse you rode as a kid or the puppy you adopted from the pound, though.


4. Musk (oil). This one is possibly my favourite of the lot. As you can gather from the name, it is used in both “natural” and generic perfumes. I’m just going to cut to the chase on this one, as it really can’t be played up to any greater effect. In short, musk is the secretion of musk deer, civet cat, beaver, muskrat, and/or otter genitals. If this wasn’t bad enough, the process of obtaining this exalted scent is to whip the animal’s genitals until they secrete, and the animals are kept alive in many of these cases. Wow.

5. Carmine. It is an additive found in food colouring, candy, hair dye, fruit drinks, sauces, and even paints. Look out for it in anything dyed red, because it is made from the dried, ground and heated bodies of female cochineal beetles, for which it takes 70 000 of to make up one pound of commercial carmine.

To find out about more about the dead animals you’re paying a quid for, please visit, and download the Leaping Bunny app to browse cruelty-free products.


Choose cruelty-free.



  1. Ahh the musk. I did laugh though when you told me that in person and I thought you meant musk lollies – the horror! Just a shame the truth is just as horrific, sigh.
    Do you have a list of the cosmetic companies who don’t test their products on animals / don’t derive ingredients from animals / insects / fish?

    1. Hahaha! Yes, I do. Have a look at—these are some registered cruelty-free companies, but there’s probably more. If it has the “cruelty free” logo on it, you’re safe, otherwise look for vegan or RSPCA registered products. It’s not compulsory to advertise that your company is cruelty-free, but basically if you are you’d always say it haha (I looked for a cruelty-free hairspray today, it took me like 20 minutes in Priceline, then I discovered there were none and had to go to price attack haha)

      1. Thanks 🙂
        Gee, what’s in hairspray that stops it being cruelty free :S I use it nearly everyday! I thank you for your research 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Cruelty Free post by Milly – learn some of the nasty things that come in cosmetics, and think twice before using them again

  3. […] on the Grossest Animal Derived Ingredients that made me stop and think about what brand I choose, […]

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