Coal Tar Colourants

SCA endorses products with the Allergy Certified logo, that do not contain coal tar. Where a brand tests their products and/or the ingredient of concern is tested for carcinogenic contaminants, test reports confirming that the product and/or ingredients are free-from carcinogens can be submitted; SCA will endorse product(s) containing toxic-free coal tar with unrestricted usage provided proof of testing is provided. SCA endorses products with the Allergy Certified logo, that restrict the use of synthetic colours to a maximum of 1% or less for leave on-products and a maximum of 3% or less for wash-off products. Colour additives should also require a warning on the product label to "always patch test before use" and "discontinue use if irritation occurs".


CAS No: 8007-45-2. Use: Cosmetics. Other Names: coal tar; coke-oven tar; coking tar; crude coal tar; aquatar. "FD&C and D&C DYES; COLOUR INDEX NUMBERS; 42090, 61570, 61565, 59040, 15510, 45370:1, 14700, 26100, 45380:2, 48380, 45410:1, 45410, 17200, 16035, 60730, 19140, 15985, 47005, 47000. *Important note; FD&C Red 3 and FD&C Blue 2 are not permitted in cosmetics. FD&C and D&C ALUMINUM LAKES; COLOUR INDEX NUMBERS; 15850:2, 15850:1, 45410:2, 45410:2, 73360:1, 17200, 16035, 42090, 60730, 19140, 47005:1. *Important note; FD&C Blue 2 lakes are not approved for cosmetic use." - IFC SOLUTIONS


  • "Coal tar is a thick dark liquid which is a by-product of the production of coke and coal gas from coal. It has both medical and industrial uses. It may be applied to the affected area to treat psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. It may be used in combination with ultraviolet light therapy." - WikiPedia

  • RESOURCES & RECOMMENDED ARTICLES: 14 Allergens in cosmetics, Standards - Cosmetic Ingredient Labelling, Search TGA & NICNAS.

  • The Chemistry of Cosmetics, Carcinogens in your cosmetics? "The EU bans 1,328 chemicals from use in cosmetics – including formaldehyde, asbestos and coal tar – that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. The US Food & Drugs Administration (FDA), by comparison, has only banned or restricted 11." - - Australia has not banned any of these ingredients, some are listed as poisons with usage restrictions. Safe Cosmetics Australia campaigns to raise chemical awareness in a world where authorities act after significant incidence is reported concerning adverse health effects, and that are chemicals commonly used in our food, cosmetics, textiles and household products.


  • Coal tar is used in food, personal care products, cosmetics, medicated shampoos, soaps, ointments, antiseptics, hair dyes and more. "It is a complex mixture of hundreds of compounds, many of which are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),. Coal tar is used in food, textiles, cosmetics and personal care products. Experimental studies have found that application of and exposure to coal tar produce skin tumors and neurological damage." -


Common side effects from using coal tar products, applied topically include: redness, burning, itching, swelling, rash, sensitivity to sunlight, and staining of your skin and hair. Severe irritation can occur. Contains carcinogenic compounds.

  • "dyes such as toluidine red, calcium salts of lithol red, or lead oxide, which may be the cause of allergic reactions" - Pierzchała E, Lis-Święty A. Allergy to cosmetics on lips and perioral region [Polish] Dermatol Estet. 2005;7:273–6. [Google Scholar]

  • The European Classification considers coal tar dyes to be a human carcinogen and they are banned by the European Union.

  • The Dirty Dozen


  • Synthetic colours. FD&C or D&C artificial colours are derived from coal tar or petroleum. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. Dyes are not pure chemicals and may contain upwards of 10% impurities.

  • Many artificial food colours are derivatives of petrochemicals and coal tar. Coloring agents blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6 are banned in the EU. Dyes are manufactured as powders, granules or liquids. They are used as a colouring agent in food, cosmetics and other household products.

  • Studies show that long-term exposure to artificial dyes can cause cancer or other effects.

  • EWG "Other HIGH concerns: Contamination concerns, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Persistence and bio-accumulation"

Coal tar is a known carcinogen used in psoriasis and dandruff treatments & hair dyes; its found in any given product that is coloured from lipsticks to foundation, body lotions, oils, sparys, eyeshadows, bubble bath etc.


Amina Kitching