Synthetic Colors are the chemical compounds that are used to give or increase colour or dye personal or beauty care products. Synthetic Colors are tightly regulated by the FDA and a significant portion of them have been banned over the years due to various health-related concerns1

From the time of the invention of beauty products, they have been additional components to make them more pleasing or appealing.  Brightly coloured makeup products with these dye additives is a marketing strategy used by the manufacturers that have been capitalized by the cosmetic industry for years.

Adding colour makes the product look better attracting more and more customers including shampoos, soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.  Unfortunately, most skincare manufacturers rely on artificial dyes to fill their products with colour. In this blog, we are going to know more about synthetic colours, how they are made, their side effects, disadvantages, etc 

How are synthetic colours made?

The majority of the products used as artificial colours are manufactured using petroleum, heavy metal salts like lead, arsenic, and petroleum. Few of them are known to cause some allergic reactions, like redness, irritation, itchy skin, rashes, etc. The range of harmfulness varies from one component to another.  

What are their side effects?

1. When absorbed into your skin, artificial colours can lead to irritation, blocked pores, inflammation, and sensitize the skin.

2. Artificial dyes have been primarily associated with acne troubles; they disturb the natural oil balance in your skin’s microbiome and lead to increased blemishes.

3. The toxins present in these chemicals can also be absorbed into your body, causing further damage from within.

4. Research has also shown that some dyes, especially the ones made from coal tar, are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in nature.

5. Artificial dyes can also affect the neurons and cause allergic reactions, especially if you have sensitive skin3

What are the replacements for synthetic colours? 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Hibiscus Flowers, Fermented Rice, Fruit Acids, and Sugar Acids are good sources of alpha-hydroxy acids. AHAs are known to produce a complexion that is younger and brighter by preventing the build-up of dead cells through gentle chemical exfoliation on the surface of the skin which reveals such a look. 


We can use Rose Hip Oil as a natural form of retinol. It also contains trans-retinoic acid, which is actually a Vitamin A derivative, not Vitamin A itself. Retinol provides a glowing and healthy complexion by targetting signs that are visible,  thereby keeping skin hydrated, evening the skin tone, and smoothing the look of wrinkles.

Salicylic Acid

White willow bark, meadowsweet, and wintergreen are very good sources of salicylic acid. The natural kind of salicylic acid provides gentle chemical exfoliation to reveal a brighter, younger-looking complexion.

Hyaluronic Acid

We can extract dual-weight hyaluronic acid from fermented plants. The dual-weight hyaluronic acid is known to plump up the moisture and make our skin look firmer. 


We use squalane from olives. Squalane is clinically proven to be non-irritating, making it great for people with sensitive skin conditions4

Natural Colouring agents

A. Usage of Shikakai in shampoos- 

It is one of the oldest and most commonly used natural ingredients in our country since ancient times. Shikakai contains many elements like vitamin C and D that make it an ideal product for hair wash. 

B. Orange peel in face wash

orange peel powder helps to clean and treat oily skin. Both orange peel powder and rose water are rich in vitamin C. It helps in tightening skin, reducing pores, reducing acne, and removing scars.

The method of usage is to add 2 tablespoons of orange peel powder and a few drops of rose water and make it into a paste. Apply this paste uniformly all over the face, leave it for about 15-20 minutes and gently rinse it off with water.

C. Shea Butter as a conditioner

It is one of the excellent moisturizers which is very effective, as it is packed and loaded with natural minerals and vitamins, like Vitamin A, E, and F. it contains many fatty acids such as palmitic, stearic, and linoleic acids that make it a natural emollient. They also work as antioxidants.

D.Saffron as face cream

Start by applying a mixture of saffron, brown sugar, and coconut oil to use as a body scrub for brightening the rough skin around the knees and elbows. Rub this mixture in gentle round motions to scrape off dead skin from your skin. A few strands of saffron can be soaked in rose water to make an aromatic toner to hydrate and refresh your skin. It can be mixed with sandalwood and rose water to make an all-natural glow-boosting face mask.

Since the market has so many products filled with these chemicals, we from the team Herbcience have come up with the following to help and benefit skin and hair care. 

Hair Nourishing Pro-V KERATIN SHAMPOO

  • Deep Cleansing
  • Anti-Dandruff
  • Hair Growth 


  • Hair Conditioning
  • Anti-Dandruff
  • Promotes Hair Growth
  • Prevents Hair Loss


  • Skin Glow
  • Skin Whitening
  • Anti – Acne
  • Skin Nourishment


  • Deep Cleansing
  • Skin Conditioning
  • Anti-Acne 


Synthetic colours are added to increase or enhance the colouring effect of the product, in order to increase the marketing value of the product. There are over thousands of colouring agents including both natural and artificial, that are used for colouring purposes. Synthetic colours are known to cause lots of harmful effects, on sensitive people.

Therefore we should be cautious while choosing any kind of product for our skin or scalp. Hence avoid using products that are made of synthetic colours and choose the products that are more ayurvedic based.

Frequently asked questions

Is Dye harmful to the skin?

or synthetic colours when absorbed into the skin leads to irritation, blocked pores, inflammation, itchy or redness, and allergies in hypersensitive people. They cause an imbalance in the skin microbiome by altering the balance in natural oil leading to the formation of pores.

How to know if you are allergic to artificial colours?

Soon after applying the product that contains the allergic causing agent either on the skin or scalp it shows up its allergy in different kinds like redness, itchy skin or urticaria, swelling, skin rashes, and blisters. In extreme cases, it also shows as facial swelling, tightness in the chest, headache, breathlessness, etc.

What are the symptoms seen if you are allergic to them?

1. Headaches
2. Flushing
3. Itchy skin or eyes
4. Burning sensation or redness

What are the safest colours that can be used in cosmetics?

Plant-based or ayurvedic-based derivatives are completely safe and are known not to cause any allergic reactions. Various natural colouring agents that can be used are:
1. Shampoo: shikakai
2. Face wash: orange peel
3. Conditioner: shea butter
4. Face cream: saffron, turmeric

What is the difference between natural dye and synthetic colours?

Natural dyes are mainly plant-based derivatives, whereas synthetic colours are chemical-based products. Natural dyes are known to be very effective as well as efficient when compared to artificial ones by causing very less side effects or harmful effects.