Where can I get that squid’s makeup?

How many times have you looked at a squid and thought to yourself, man does that squid have a flare for style! I wish I could look that good! Well look no further my friend, because the scientists at the fabulous Central Institute of Fisheries Technology have heard your prayers and answered them in full by creating and safety testing lipstick made from squid chromatophores.

For those of you who don’t know, squid chromatophores (like all cephalopod chromatophores) are small sacs of pigment that cover the animal’s body. The squid can stretch these sacs to make them bigger or smaller, and in this way change the color of their skin.

Now before you ask no, this lipstick will not change colors after you put it on. However, it is apparently free of toxic metals and considered safe for human use. Since, as the study points out, a great deal of lipstick ends up getting eaten, there is a push towards more natural lipsticks free from toxic ingredients.

What this lipstick actually looks like it unknown. Chromatophores are limited in their color range (mostly yellow, brown, or red), and the lipsticks will probably also be somewhat limited though I’m betting enough mixing and matching could be done to create a pretty wide range of shades. Some names I’d like to throw out there for consideration: Sultry Squid Sienna, Calamari Crimson, and Opulent Octopus Orange.

So while we might not yet be able to match the squid in its ability to flawless change looks without having to run home and change, we’re still managing to steal a few tips from these divas of the deep-sea.


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About Hannah Rosen

I am a PhD candidate at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University. I am currently conducting research on color change in squid skin, but my real passion is making science accessible to those outside of the field so that everyone can love it as much as I do! Science is not just for the professionals. It is fun and something that everyone can and should enjoy. Deep down we are all science nerds, you just may not know it yet!

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