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The Hidden Risks of Colors & Fragrances in Skincare Products

BY Love, Indus | PUBLISHED ON April 08, 2023


We all have heard the phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover", which might be very accurate for the skincare products we see around us. We all love a bright pink, well packaged, fragrant and visually appealing skincare product, but have you looked at the ingredients for harmful artificial dyes and fragrances?

Skincare products are often marketed based on their appearance. Artificial fragrances and colors are a cheap and common way to make a product more visually appealing and to differentiate it from others in the market. However, these artificial dyes and fragrances can adversely affect the skin and consumer decision-making.

Artificial colors and fragrances used in skin care products can cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and other allergic reactions, especially in people with sensitive skin. They can also clog pores, leading to acne breakouts and other skin issues. Some may contain phthalates, which are increasingly avoided in skincare due to their known detrimental effects on health. Over time, these artificial additives can damage the skin's natural barrier, leading to dehydration, premature aging, and other long-term skin problems. More worryingly, some of these additives might be carcinogenic, meaning they have the potential to cause cancer when used over a prolonged period. 

Furthermore, the use of harmful fragrances and colors in skincare products can have a negative impact on the environment. When these products are washed off and enter the water supply, they can negatively impact aquatic life and contribute to the overall degradation of the environment.

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Here's a summary of some common issues with certain artificial color and fragrance ingredients:

1. Skin irritation: Studies have found that certain artificial colors commonly used in skincare products, such as FD&C red 40 and yellow 5, can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in some individuals. This is due to the chemical structure of these dyes, which can penetrate the skin and cause inflammation.

2. Discoloration: Research has shown that prolonged use of skincare products containing artificial colors can lead to skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation, especially in areas of the skin that are exposed to the product regularly. This is because these colors can accumulate in the skin over time and cause a buildup of pigment.

3. Carcinogenicity: Some artificial colors have been classified as potentially carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). For example, studies have found that red and yellow pigments such as D&C Red No. 33, D&C Yellow No. 5, and D&C Yellow No. 6 can cause DNA damage and promote the growth of cancer cells.

4. Skin Sensitization: Prolonged exposure to artificial fragrances can sensitize the skin, making it more prone to irritations and allergic reactions over time.

5. Masking Other Ingredients: Artificial fragrances can be used to mask the unpleasant odor of other ingredients in skincare products, such as preservatives and stabilizers. This can make it difficult to identify potentially harmful ingredients in the product.

6. Consumer perception: Research has shown that consumers may perceive products with bright, vibrant colors as more effective and appealing, regardless of their actual efficacy or safety. This is because certain colors are associated with certain properties, such as green with natural and organic ingredients, or blue with calming or soothing effects.

7. Hormonal imbalances: Some artificial colors may contain phthalates, which can disrupt the body's hormonal balance and lead to health problems.

Despite these potential adverse effects, colors can still be used in skin care products in a safe and beneficial way. For example, natural colorants derived from plants and minerals can give a product a particular hue without the adverse effects of artificial colors. These natural colorants may have additional skin benefits, such as antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties.

Be cautious when selecting skincare products based on color alone. Bright, eye-catching colors may be more likely to attract your attention, but the product itself might not be practical or beneficial for your skin. You should carefully evaluate products based on their ingredients, formulation, and intended use rather than relying solely on their color or fragrance.

At Love, Indus, we don't use any artificial colorants and we do use a powerful array of nature-derived ingredients to impart fragrance.  Our proprietary blend of fragrance oils includes lavendar, patchouli, rosemary, orange, ylang ylang and rose amongst many others. These botanicals have various additional skin benefits such as anti-inflammatory and biocidal properties.

By avoiding artificial dyes and fragrances, our skincare products are less likely to cause skin irritation and inflammation, resulting in an earth, heavenly-smelling and naturally-dyed skincare line.



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