11. Whale Grease Lipstick
If Cochineal beetles weren’t gross enough, let’s talk about whale blubber on your lips. Whale blubber was a common emulsifier — a fat used to help spread pigment — all the way into the 1970s. Whale blubber was widely used in the beauty industry for centuries, in everything from soaps to lipstick. One whale has a great deal of fat on its body, so whaling was an efficient way of gathering vast quantities of high-quality fat. However, in modern times women were appalled when they learned that whales were being harvested for cosmetics.
Despite whaling being strictly limited now and cheaper and easier plant-based emulsifiers being found, the urban legend of whale blubber in lipsticks continues today. Whale blubber is not used in any cosmetics, even those that are not vegan nor cruelty-free. It is much cheaper, and more ethical, for companies to use plant-based compounds like beeswax, cocoa butter, lanolin and oils like jojoba, maracuja or argan as emulsifiers.
While no longer used in cosmetics, blubber is still of extremely high value to some indigenous peoples like the Inuit. Whales can have as much as 50% of their total body weight in fat, which serves as an extremely calorie dense food source, which is vital for survival in the cold climate of the Inuit lands. It also contains Vitamin D, which is essential to prevent rickets in cold areas with limited sunlight.