There are certain things most of us take for granted in our lives. We assume home builders know what they're doing until a renovation uncovers an electrical fire hazard years later. We assume our kids will be safe at school until events like Columbine and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School rock us to our core. And we assume that products we can pick up at any corner store are safe. As it turns out, you might be taking more risks with your cosmetics than you realize. Did you know cosmetics don't need FDA approval
to land on the shelves? Artificial colorants are among the most common risk factors you apply to your skin every day. Just because they're available at every turn doesn't mean they're safe. Take a look at what you need to know.
Why Do Skin Care Companies Use Artificial Colors?
As with so many choices companies make, using artificial colors comes down to their bottom line. They're trying to make their products more appealing so you'll buy more of them, plain and simple. The problem is that you might be getting more than you bargained for when you buy products with artificial colors.
The Potential Risks from Artificial Colorants in Skin Care
You've probably heard talk about the possible risks of artificial dyes in food
. Concerns range from hyperactivity to cancer. While the colorants in your skin care products don't carry these same risks, they do have issues of their own.
Irritation and Inflammation
Have you ever tried a new skin care product that left your skin red and sensitive but you weren't sure why? There's a chance that artificial colorants were to blame. Your skin is a delicate ecosystem, and every person's body chemistry is unique. An ingredient that's safe for one person could cause a severe reaction for someone else. No one has a complete understanding of their skin's sensitivities. That's why the more ingredients a skincare product has, the more likely it is to cause inflammation. An artificial dye is one more ingredient that could irritate your skin. On top of that, it brings you no benefit in exchange for the risk.
We're not sure who started the rumor that acne is only a problem for teenagers because it's not true. Many of us fight to keep pimples away
our entire lives. It might not be full breakouts like the one you inevitably got before prom, but it's still a problem. In your battle against acne, artificial colorants work against you. They can block your pores and interfere with your skin's natural oil balance, which makes you prone to blemishes. In particular, red dyes
seem to have this problem. Still, any irritation can affect your oil production and your risk for acne as well, so it's better to avoid artificial colors altogether.
Risks for Absorption
Your skin is more like a mesh than a waterproof seal. When you put something on your skin, your body absorbs some of it. Now let's talk about what exactly your body absorbs when you use skincare products with artificial dyes. Most of these colorants are made from coal tar
. As a result, they can include contaminants like lead and arsenic. In most cases, your body won't absorb enough of these contaminants to be dangerous. Still, you never know how susceptible your body is or how much you're absorbing. If you use the product far more than recommended, you could be getting into dangerous territory. We should mention that the FDA does have limits on the amount of these contaminants that cosmetic products can contain. That's one of the few loose regulations it has over the cosmetic industry. Keep in mind, though, that a product doesn't need FDA approval to land on your shelves, so there's no testing to prove that it meets those requirements. The legal limits don't guarantee that your products will be safe, only that you have legal recourse if they aren't.
How to Avoid Skin Care Products with Artificial Colorants
Now that you know why you should steer clear of artificial colorants in your skincare products, here's how to do it.
Never Make Assumptions
If companies want to market their products as healthy and natural, they can. That doesn't mean they don't include artificial colorants. No matter what perception you have of a product, our top skin care tip
is to always read the labels. In many cases, you'll find that products aren't as wholesome as manufacturers market them to be.
Know What to Look For
As you read ingredient labels, artificial colorants are easy to identify. In most cases, they'll have a color in the ingredient name itself, like "yellow 6." For other products, the manufacturer might be vague and only write "colorant" or something similar. When in doubt, pull out your smartphone and harness the power of Google! It's better to spend an extra 30 seconds educating yourself than to buy something that could be harmful.
Avoid Overseas Purchases
As we mentioned, the FDA has very little regulation over the cosmetics industry. There's still some regulation, though, and this isn't the case in many other countries. There's a huge trend in the U.S. today toward buying skincare products from overseas. That's a big risk because you don't know what regulations that country has in place -- if any. If the product turns out to be dangerous, you might not even have any legal recourse.
Keeping Your Beauty Safe
As much as we all love to look our best, you should never sacrifice your health in the interest of beauty. In the case of artificial colors, you might be doing that without even realizing it. The real shame, though, is that these colorants aren't necessary in any way. They contribute nothing to the product's benefits while adding a big risk to your daily routine. If you're ready to purge artificial colorants from your skincare regimen, shop for our natural skin care products