What you need to know about natural dyes

November 2017

I have received many requests from formulators over the past few weeks inquiring about natural dyes for makeup. It’s easy to understand why natural alternatives are so sought after nowadays. GCI magazine recently highlighted the rise of food-inspired cosmetics, a segment especially popular with indie brands catering to customers who are (literally) hungry for natural and safer beauty products. The food trend is everywhere indeed. While companies like Lush have helped bring this trend into the mainstream, many brands are just now jumping on to the veggie-beauty wagon.

It is now clear that consumers have a distinct preference for natural products, but identifying these products can be a headache. While third party certification such as COSMOS have helped guide consumers, their complexity has prevented their adoption globally. With a limited regulatory frame for what constitutes a truly natural product, beauty users can sometimes feel isolated when faced with the decision to purchase a natural cosmetic product. Many have developed their own process to help themselves with the surplus of options:

Base: 1,238 internet users aged 18+ who typically buy natural or organic personal care products | Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

Natural dyes alternative

Natural dyes are an ingredient of choice for brands looking to boost their “natural credibility”. Annatto, beta-Carotene, and turmeric extracts are well known for their coloring properties and can deliver bright colors in formulation when used in the right conditions. But for brands deciding to embrace this path, regulation is a major obstacle to overcome.

Natural dyes are an ingredient of choice for brands looking to boost their “natural credibility”.

These natural dyes are regulated very differently from one country to another:

This leads to significant restrictions when seeking global compliance. In the U.S. for instance, these rules mean that only a handful of natural dyes can be used for cosmetic applications: Annatto, Caramel and beta-Carotene.

If you have worked in the food industry before, you might know that Sensient is the leading supplier of natural dyes for the food industry. Sensient Food Color and Sensient Cosmetic Technology have worked very closely to transfer this expertise and adapt it to the cosmetic world by creating the Nature® Col range of natural dyes. This range of dyes has been optimized to work in cosmetic applications and meet quality standards established by regulations. Contact our regulatory experts now to make sure your formulations are compliant.