Where did that stunning pink that you’ve got in your closet come from? How do you decide which shade of it to wear on Wednesdays? How do red lollipops, bright pink blush, and wine-tinted lipstick get their glow?
We’re talking about all shades of that cochineal pink—you know the one.
You might have heard the term but not know the story, so we’re here to tell you that those hues are all thanks to a bug. More specifically, the cochineal insect.
Yes, that perfect crimson hue, that deep vibrant red, and much more comes from none other than these bugs, which are responsible for creating around 18 different shades of pink.
How did we start using cochineal insects?
Cochineal insects are native to South America, Mexico and Central America, and have been the traditional way to dye fabric and a variety of other items for centuries. Aztecs and Mayans have been using cochineal as a dye from as early as the second century B.C. In the 1500s, the Spanish introduced the cochineal insect into Europe, and once it gained popularity it quickly became one of the most sought-after dyes in the region. It even became one of the top choices used to make garments worn by nobles and royalty. However, by the time the 1800s came around and new dyeing methods were introduced into communities, cochineal began to be replaced by synthetic and other natural dyes.
Even today, it is still being widely used all over the world.