Long-lasting moisture retention is a huge challenge to humectants, and effective methods or additives for promote these functions are limited, especially nano-additives. Carbon dots (CDs) have attracted increasing research interest due to its ultra-small size, excellent optical properties and low toxicity, etc. However, most of researches have been focused on the photoexcited CDs and its subsequent photophysical and chemical processes, such as photoluminescence, photodynamic, photothermal and photocatalytic behavior. The intrinsic chemo-physical properties of the pristine CDs are not fully explored. Here, we report an excellent moisture retention capability of a new carmine cochineal-derived CDs (Car-CDs) for the first time. The relationship between the structure of Car-CDs and its moisture retention capability is revealed. More interestingly, the effective applications of Car-CDs in moisturizing lipstick are demonstrated. This work expands the research and application of CDs into a broad, new area, potentially in skin care.