What Kind of Pigments are Used for Cosmetics and How are They Different from Each Other


Many dyes and pigments contain toxic materials like heavy metals that can be injurious to our skin. Therefore it is necessary to know about the color additives used in cosmetics and whether they are safe to use or not. Broadly the colour additives used in cosmetics can be classified into two categories, such as organic and inorganic. Further organic colours can be divided into three categories, such as botanicals, synthetic dyes, and lakes. Inorganic colours consist of mineral compounds like zinc oxide and iron oxide.

Organic Colours


  • These are the only natural colour additives used in cosmetics.
  • Very few botanicals have the approval to be used in cosmetics.
  • Two of the popular botanicals are henna and beetroot powder.
  • They are the safest among all to use on the body.
  • Botanicals do not stick well with makeup.

Synthetic Dyes:

  • Coal-tar derivatives and petroleum oil are chemically refined as they contain toxic heavy metals.
  • They drain the oxygen by getting absorbed into the skin and so can be harmful.
  • They also get absorbed by the oral cavities around the mouth.
  • This category of additives has bright hues on its list.
  • Some of them are toxic as they carry legally allowed low levels of lead and other heavy metals.


  • Lakes are produced from the reaction of a binder, like a metallic salt, and a dye.
  • It has aluminum as one of its components.
  • They give bright colours.
  • They have carcinogenic properties which are harmful to health.

Inorganic Colours

Mineral Compounds:

  • Oxides, mica, ultramarines are mineral pigments.
  • These pigments are healthier than artificially created pigments.
  • Mineral compounds are available in nature but as they carry heavy metals they are now synthetically prepared in laboratories.
  • They are safe to use on the skin.
  • They are used in cosmetics as they stick well.
  • It is difficult to get bright colours with mineral compounds.

Which Pigment Should be Used?

Synthetic dyes and lakes can cause health problems and they should be used in a limited manner or avoided completely. Mineral compounds like ultramarines, oxides, and mica, on the other hand, are the safest to use in cosmetics. There are regulations for the production of these colours and industries must follow the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 to get their cosmetics approved for usage. Even after this, we should observe how safe or unsafe these cosmetics are for usage. We should refer to the information available to us for facts and details on pigments.


At Markskill Colours we do not take risks when it comes to the safety of our customers. We give detailed information about our products and provide our customers with their desired pigments.

Key Takeaways

  • There are two types of pigments, namely organic and inorganic.
  • Organic colours can further be divided into three main categories, such as lakes, synthetic dyes, and botanicals.
  • Inorganic pigments are mostly made up of mineral compounds like oxides, mica, and ultramarine.
  • Mineral compounds are considered to be the safest to use as they do not pose any threat to the health of the consumer.

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