SO what is in Red lipstick that we don't carry it?
There are three main true red dyes, Carmine or Natural Red dye 4, Allura Red (Red dye 40) and Amaranth (red dye 2) are all approved in Canada. To the South of us the Americans had the coal tar based Red dye 2 banned in 1976 as a study in Russia showed that it had carcinogenic properties. The Europeans are hesitant to use Allura and put warning labels on food that contain this and related dyes. They do not recommend it for children. Certain countries have even banned it.
And that leaves us Carmine, Natural red dye 4, also known as the bug. The bug being the reason a natural vegan red lipstick does not exist.
In the 15th century Europeans discovered a dye being used by the Aztecs and Mayans by crushing the cochineal bug. The Carminic acid produced by the bugs became valuable and was exported. Over the years we have introduced other alternatives and gradually the demand lessened. However as the other dyes we have been using have been called into question for their safety, the bug has been making a comeback, particularly as it can be labelled Natural.
Due to the dyes increased use, in 2006 the FDA in the USA legislated that all foods and cosmetics containing the crushed insect would need to be labeled properly. This is good news to those who have an anaphylactic reaction to the consumption of the little bug. And I don't think there is any bad news about that decision. Mostly it is as the public becomes more aware of what they are choosing what will they feel better about. Natural Red dye from a bug? Settle for a pink berry colour? Sell out for the risk of cancer? And do you or can you really know what the full impact is with regards to your decision.
It makes me think of the white face paint from the 1500s that was eventually given up as it caused madness and sometimes death due to the lead content. What are willing to wear? What's on your skin?
For the obsessive who want to know what colour additives are permitted in Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/list/3-colour-color-eng.php
Times Article in 1976 about red Dye being banned: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,945520,00.html
For those interested in other conversations about Carmine:
For the scientific types: Why Allura Red is in question by the European Food Safety Authority http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3234.htm