Artificial colors are everywhere. They’re in our cosmetics, shampoos, foods, drinks, medicines, hair dyes, deodorants, and even toothpastes.

Some additives have a relatively safe profile and are often added to make food or make cosmetics more aesthetically appealing or to increase the therapeutic properties of products that treat dandruff or psoriasis.

However, some dyes, such as coal-tar or petroleum-derived dyes, can be very toxic if consumed or absorbed at high doses. These additives are made from petroleum distillates or by combining various aromatic hydrocarbons like toluene, xylene, and benzene that come from bituminous coal. These dyes are cheap to mass-produce and are very effective at preserving a product’s shelf life while retaining the desired color.


All coal-tar and petroleum-derived dyes are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and subject to strict standards outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. However, some research is showing that the coal tar could have adverse effects on human health, particularly after prolonged exposure.

While a significant amount of research has focused on occupational exposure to coal tar, such as chimney sweepers at the turn of the century, more recent research in the International Journal of Dermatology reported that dermal exposure to coal tar could cause phototoxic reactions, irritation and burn, allergic dermatitis, folliculitis, acne, atrophy of the epidermis, and hyperpigmentation. Researchers also found “exposure over a long period is the main risk factor for malignancy development, even in low exposure levels.”

While not every synthetic dye is inherently toxic, consumers are growing increasingly concerned about what is in their food, beverage, and skin care products. They’re showing greater preference and even a willingness to pay more for products formulated with more natural ingredients such makeup pigmented from fruit instead of coal or petroleum.

One area where fruit dye is gaining traction is pigmented eyeshadow. Eyeshadows are commonly formulated with ingredients like talc, which acts as a filler; silicone-based binders; preservatives; and either carbon or non-carbon color pigments. Fruit pigmented eyeshadow provides the same illuminating glow of traditional eyeshadow, but is instead formulated with more natural ingredients, such as strawberry, cranberry, and acai extracts; vegetable pigments; and naturally shimmery minerals such as mica.

Another area of skin care that is swapping out synthetic additives for more natural options is facial lotions and primers. Look for products like a mattifying primer that instead use tea tree, eucalyptus, seaweed collagen, green tea, and aloe juice to sooth, tone, and protect skin while working to boost collagen production and elasticity. A silicone-free primer will leave your skin feeling clean and moisturized while also working adjunctively with the rest of your makeup to reveal a fresh, healthy look without synthetic chemicals and dyes.

Fortunately, skin care companies are working to eliminate potentially harmful and toxic chemicals and substituting more natural, eco-friendly additives into their products. Companies like 100% PURE have embraced this mission and are committed to producing the purest and healthiest products without harsh dyes or synthetic chemicals. They also work to ensure their natural skin care products are never tested on animals.

The next time you’re shopping for cosmetics, skin care, or anything really, be aware that those beautiful colors don’t always come from natural sources. Consider selecting products that work to embrace nature’s beauty and deliver products that are better for you, your skin, and the environment.

About 100% PURE

100% PURE is committed to producing the purest, healthiest products that are good for human health, the environment, and the global community. As a natural skin care line, their products are cruelty-free and are sourced from nature whenever possible. From retinol eye cream to creamy foundation, their products are pigmented from fruit and free of synthetic chemicals.

Learn more about their natural skin care products at