Are colorants in your skincare products dangerous?

Are colorants in your skincare products dangerous?

Colors can affect our moods and emotions. When used in the right way they can soothe your eyes and enhance your moods.

From green eye shadow to red shades of lipsticks, colors have been used in the cosmetic products for centuries. Colors used in cosmetics always evolved and shifted towards safer ingredients. Despite this evolution, some of the colors still contain toxic materials that can affect your skin. So, one should know about safe color additives. 

For those who are not chemists, cosmetic colorants can be confusing. Here is the complete guide to understanding the world of colorants. 

Cosmetic colors can be organic or inorganic. Organic colorants include lakes, botanicals, and synthetic dyes. Whereas, inorganic colorants are made of compounds like zinc oxide or iron oxide. 

What is the difference between pigments and dyes? 

Cosmetics colorants are further classified into pigments and dyes. Dyes are water-soluble and only contain organic dyes. Inorganic mineral compounds, botanical and organic lakes are pigments and oil dispersible.

Organic Dyes

Organic synthetic dyes are made from refined coal tar or petroleum derivatives and can contain toxic heavy metals. They are renowned for their bright hues that you cannot get from synthetic dyes. 

Although they are legal they can still be harmful to the body. They can absorb into the skin and pass into the circulation and can deplete oxygen in it. Moreover, they can accumulate in our body and can cause serious health problems like cancer, kidney and renal problems, skin allergies, memory loss, mode swings, headache, and hair loss. 

Some organic dyes have a name of the color followed by the number; for example, blue 3 or orange 6. They are labeled ‘FD&C’ or ‘D&C’ ‘in their name ( Approved for use in food, drugs, and cosmetics; D&C for only drugs and cosmetics) 


A lake pigment is made by reacting a dye with a metallic salt. They are produced from FD&C colors. Just like synthetic dyes they give off bright hues and do not bleed colors. They have some health risks as do organic dyes but have minimal toxicity levels. 

Azo Dyes & Pigments:

Azo dyes and pigments are mostly used in cosmetics but some of them have made their ways into cosmetics. They are formed by creating a compound that contains a nitrogen double bond. Recent researches have shown that they can release toxic aromatic compounds and are carcinogenic. EU has banned many of these dyes more will be banned in the near future. 

Mineral Pigments:

Mineral pigments are known to be a safe option in the world of colorants. They contain mica, oxides, and ultramarines and can produce beautiful earthy tones and will not harm the body. 

FDA has approved the law that all the mineral pigments should be produced synthetically in the lab and not obtain from the natural source. 

Which Colorants should be used? 

Studies have shown that mineral pigments are safe and do not cause serious health risks like synthetic dyes and lakes. These harmful pigments and dyes should be avoided. 

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