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What is it?

“Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes (pictured) and dissolved in ethanol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish. Shellac functions as a tough natural primer, sanding sealant, tannin-blocker, odour-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

This substance is derived from animals.

Shellac is a substance that is secreted from the female lac bug on to the bark of trees. The raw and hard shellac is scraped together with the bugs off the bark of the trees and liquefied through heating. Remaining bark and bugs are also separated in the heating process. Shellac is dry in its original cold form, if it is found as a liquid it is most commonly mixed with ethyl alcohol.

To produce 1 kg of shellac it is reportedly required between 50,000 to 300,000 lac bugs. Not all of them are killed, but the female lac bugs that remain when the shellac is scraped off the trees are likely to get injured or die in the heating process.

The non-profit organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has included shellac on their Animal-derived Ingredients List.

How is it used?

In cosmetics*, shellac has become popular as an alternative to normal nail polish. It lasts much longer; normally it lasts until you go to the salon to take it off, on the contrary to regular nail polishes that usually start to peel off after a couple of days. As the application of shellac normally requires UV-light to seal it, it is most common to get it at a salon. Shellac has also been found in hair lacquer.

Other current uses of the substance include watch making, fireworks, dental technology, candy, jewelry, and many other areas.

Historically, shellac has been common to use as a varnish, stain, and protecting top coat for wood.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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