Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Devanshi Singh (Beauty Expert)  on 03rd Oct 2020

Dyes in Skincare Products: Types & Effects 

Dyes in Skincare Products

Skincare is probably (or should I say undoubtedly) one of the most important things that a girl owns in these modern times. Taking proper/good care of your skin is exceptionally crucial for both men and women.

And thus, skincare products are a hit among the Gen-Z. But have you ever thought about the elements/ingredients of your products? Have you thought about what skincare products contain? I know about those natural ingredients and essential oils, but what else?

The answer to this is dyes! Dyes in Skincare products is a known phenomenon now, but not too many of us. Many of us still do not know what is inside those tubes and bottles.
So let's explore dyes in skincare products.  

Dyes in Skincare products- A Wide Perspective

The use of dyes in skincare products is not a new method or phenomenon. It was done earlier and is done even now. There is no new thing.

But now people are becoming more and more aware of what they are putting on their skin.
No one wants to experience bad skin because of skincare products. That will be such an irony!

It all began with the use of natural colorants or dyes in skincare products. Soon, people found an alternative to the natural pigments and got their hands on the artificial colors. Natural colorants were replaced with deadly fake ones, and people began noticing the changes.

After the frequent and consequent use of dyes in skincare products and makeup, people were affected and started complaining about their severe side-effects.

As soon as people began responding to these dyes, authorities started assessing the skincare products' ingredients. The rules about what manufacturers can use in their skincare and makeup products became more strict.

Soon, in 1906 the Food and Drug Act was passed, and there were limitations on what things (or ingredients) can manufacturers put in their products. This act provides more protection and assurance of safety to the consumers. 

Types of color additives you can find in your skincare products

Color additives (both organic and inorganic) in skincare products are broadly of two types.

1. Dyes
2. Pigments

If you wish to distinguish/differentiate between these two, you must consider the solubility factor.

Dyes are soluble in water whereas, the pigments are soluble in oil. 

All you need to know regarding Dyes and Pigments

In the above section of color additives, you know about the color additives you can find in your skincare products.

So, let us dig deeper into these color additives and know more about them. 

1. Organic Dyes 

Organic dyes are usually labeled as 'FD&C' and 'D&C.'

If you wonder what this FDC means, then don't worry. You will have your answer in the next few lines.

Organic dyes labeled as 'FD&C' are certified and approved for the use in Foods (F), Drugs(D), and Cosmetics (C).

Also, you obtain these dyes by synthetic means, like from refined petroleum oil and derivatives of coal tar.

However, as they are obtained from the derivatives of harmful and toxic materials, you must realize that despite being approved for cosmetics, they are unhealthy for your skin and deplete your skin's oxygen as soon as your skin absorbs them. 


You might not know this, but the certified organic dyes are famous for their bright colorations.

They even give the skincare products the required brightness and intensity that mineral pigments are incapable of. 


Despite being FD&C certified dyes, these dyes are highly toxic for your skin and can lead to toxic materials in the body.

Consequently, you can end up developing several serious health problems like cancer, allergies, reproductive & developmental disorders, mood swings, neurological issues, memory loss, and much more. 

2. Lakes 

Pigments obtained by reacting a dye with an inert binder are called lake pigments. They are often a metallic salt and obtained from FD&C certified dyes. 


Most of the time, lakes are perfect for cosmetics as they do not bleed colors. However, even they give out bright hues. 


As the lake pigments are obtained from FD&C dyes, they also have the same drawbacks as the FD&C dyes. They are toxic to you. 

3. Azo Dyes & Pigments 

Compounds made by the formation of compounds having a nitrogen double bond are known as Azo dyes and pigments.

Although azo were mostly used in textiles, some of them are now used in cosmetics. 

4. Botanicals 

You will be kind of happy to read about botanicals as they are the only natural ones.
Though they are natural, they are quite challenging to work with.

Beetroot powder and henna are two examples of botanicals.

Besides these four compounds, there are two other color additives, namely, carmine and mineral compounds. 

What are the dyes in Skincare products?

In the past few years, the use of skincare products has increased insanely. But, let me give a little reality check, 'natural' skincare products that are supposed to provide you with a natural glow are made of synthetics materials and dyes. That, too, different types of dyes.

The dyes in skincare products make your products look good and smell good. But these dyes do not do the same for your skin.

Dyes in skincare products are potentially harmful to your skin and its overall health.

Different types of dyes are used in your skincare products. They are obtained from different sources and can be made from tons of various other elements.

But, no matter what the ingredients or elements from which they are obtained, they all are quite a con for your skin.

The dyes in skincare products may cause skin disease, rashes, irritation, and much more.

And thus, if your skin is sensitive, then you must take a sneak peek into the ingredients of the products that you use in your skin before applying, or you can even take a patch test (apply it on a small portion of your skin) before you start using any product. 

The risks of dyes in skincare products

The artificial ingredients or dyes in your skincare products do nothing except giving them the effect of good smell and good looks. However, they can even turn out to be a matter of concern for your skin.

There are several disadvantages of the dyes in skincare products and makeup. Several pieces of research prove the existence of these advantages.  

1) Can block your pores

The dyes in skincare products can potentially block your pores and make it hard for your skin to breathe. The pores blocking can lead to severe acne problems.  

2) Severe health problems

Besides lousy skin or skin full of acne and pimples, the dyes in skincare products can also give you health-related severe problems and issues.  

3) Irritation and Rashes

The skin of every individual/person is different from the other one. And thus, some people have sensitive skin, and some are not. That is why some people can get rashes and irritations due to the dye in skincare products.  

4) Breakouts

The artificial chemicals or dyes in skincare products can potentially give your skin a tough time. Your skin pores will be blocked, and you will develop acne. Many people have complained about the breakouts that they experience from some skincare products.

These were the primary disadvantages, but besides these, there are several other cons that you can experience because of the dyes in skincare products. 

How are the dyes in skincare products regulated?

The authorities of several countries are working day and night to give their cosmetics users a fantastic experience
Plenty of new synthetic dyes are made and categorized as safe or unsafe, depending upon the damage that they can potentially do to your skin.

All this data and information is looked upon and taken care of by the official authorities.

Like in the USA, FDA looks into the matter of beneficial and harmful products. If they find any skincare product dangerous enough to give their clients an unpleasant experience, then they can ban it.

And this is how governments take care of what is being added to skincare products. 

Can you spot dyes in The 'Ingredient List' of your Skincare Product? 

The element/ingredient list on the back of the bottle of your skincare product and makeup often misleads people and shows only the beneficial elements of the products.

It is such a sad thing that you can not figure out the dyes in skincare products from the ingredient list on the bottle or tube. But there are some severe precautions that you can take before you get your hands on any skincare product.

It would help if you did full-fledged research on the product you plan to use or buy. Google about the product, read the reviews, see how other people have reacted or responded to that product.

Check for some security certification of the product to know if the authorities verify the product or not.  

The Final Word

Every other skincare product of yours will indeed be having one of the different synthetic dye as its ingredient. And that is why you must be highly careful of what you use on your skin.

Do proper research for the product you are planning to buy and check for the authorities' verification.

You can even do a patch test to know how your skin reacts to that particular product.