A women applies mascara

Is there Bat Poop in Mascara?

There are all sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients used by the cosmetic industry these days, and some products we use every day contain things you would never have imagined! Many active ingredients are harvested from animals, such as Bee Venom, Fish Enzymes, Snail Mucus – the list could go on. The one that unsurprisingly caught our attention is the claim that there is bat poop in mascara. Now, it’s not new information that bat poop (also called guano) has many valuable properties. In fact, for a long time, guano has been harvested for use as an agricultural fertilizer.  However, the thought of spreading bat poop on our eyelashes makes most of us feel a little squeamish. So, what’s the truth? Is there bat poop in mascara?

Woman putting mascara on her lashes

It’s Guanine, not Guano.

Is there bat poop in mascara?” No, there is not! This common misconception seems to be due to confusion over an ingredient widely used in mascara; Guanine. Sounds like “Guano,” right? Yes, it’s no surprise to find some confusion around this term. The word guanine actually originates from the Spanish word “guano,” derived from the Quechua word for dung: “wanu.” It was named this around 1846, after a German chemist, Julius Bodo Unger, first reported the isolation of guanine from bird guano in 1844.

What is Guanine?

Guanine is a chemical compound found in animals and humans – it’s actually one of the building blocks in our DNA. It is the “G” nucleotide in the AC GT rungs of the double helix ladder. As mentioned above, guanine is also found in bird and bat guano. Spiders, Scorpions, and amphibian excretions also contain guanine. However, mascara doesn’t contain guanine from bat poop or other animal poop. Instead, cosmetic companies harvest guanine from fish scales. The code of federal regulations specifies that the guanine approved for cosmetic use is “the crystalline material obtained from fish scales…[that] …consists principally of the two purines, guanine, and hypoxanthine”.

DNA Double Helix strands

Why is there Guanine in mascara?

Guanine is used as an opacifying agent – giving mascara a translucent appearance – and a colorant. Loads of cosmetics contain guanine, not just mascara. It’s used in shampoo, nail polish, eye-shadow, and more, giving these products the iridescent shimmer that makes them so appealing. You may be thinking, so there isn’t bat poop in mascara – but parts of fish scales – is it really okay to put that on my eyelashes? Rest assured, guanine is FDA-approved for use in cosmetics, including mascara. The FDA states: “The color additive guanine may be safely used in cosmetics generally, including cosmetics intended for use in the area of the eye, in amounts consistent with good manufacturing practice.” So, no need to panic; using mascara containing guanine is perfectly safe.

If you prefer cosmetics with no animal derivatives, there is no need to swear off mascara! Check the ingredients, as not all companies use guanine. More and more manufacturers are choosing vegan alternatives, such as bismuth oxychloride, mica, or leguminous plants.

A mascara brush with some product smeared on the background

What you should know about Guano

So, is there bat poop in mascara? No. There is guanine, but not guano. However, as previously mentioned, guano is considered a precious resource, not in the cosmetics industry, but in agriculture. Guano has been used as a fertilizer for thousands of years!

Fertilizer being spread onto lettuce

Although we highly value bats as an essential part of our ecosystem, humans should not cohabit with bats. Bats and bat guano should not be present in your property. If guano accumulates, it is a perfect breeding ground for a fungus called “Histoplasma”, which sadly causes a severe respiratory infection called “Histoplasmosis.” Of course, if you find guano in your home, it indicates your home is likely housing bats. A bat infestation can bring severe health risks and cause severe structural damage to your home. Therefore, contact your local bat removal company for expert advice if you find bat poop in your residential or commercial property. We can safely exclude the bats, provide guano clean-up and attic restoration services, and offer a warranty against re-infestations. If you need help, contact us today.

Your Local Bat Removal Expert,

Michael Koski

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

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