What: Synthetic Colors also known as coal tar dyes, synthetic dyes and artificial colors. FD&C refers to food, drugs and cosmetics. D&C refers to drugs and cosmetics. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6 and sometimes followed by the work “lake”. In industrial production of colorants, “lake” is a term used for pigments or dyes that are precipitated with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, barium, or others. Some of the lake dyes may be derived from naturally occurring plant or animal ingredients but the vast majority of lakes is synthetically produced from coal tar or petroleum.
Where: Found in all cosmetic categories including makeup, hygiene products, oral care, baby care and men’s grooming products.
Why: Synthetic color or FD&C colors are mostly derived from coal tar. According to the EWG’s Cosmetic Database, Coal tar is a skin and respiratory toxicant . It is suspected to be an environmental toxin and to be persistent or bioaccumulative. Considered a known human carcinogen in European Classification and Labeling the European Union has banned it.
Do: Buy products that are free of synthetic colors. Instead look for natural or mineral colors or dyes such as Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Iron Oxide, Tin Oxide, Carmine and Ultramarines.