Coal Tar Dyes

Colours, Bleaching & Hair Dyes. 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 2.5% 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". 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 the product(s) containing toxic-free coal tar dyes.


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


  • 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"


Amina Kitching