Natural Coloring for Cosmetics That Meet EU Standards

In ancient Egypt, people used copper, kohl, and crushed beetles to create pigments for their eyes, lips, and cheeks. Our love for colorful cosmetics lives on today but with much safer ingredients. Many manufacturers use dyes to give makeup, hair, and skin care products a specific tint.
While most of these colorings are synthetic, recent debate over their safety has prompted many companies to switch to natural ingredients, especially in the EU.
EU Regulations for Color Additives
The European Union has some of the strictest cosmetics regulations in the world. All makeup and hair dyes (permanent and semi-permanent) must comply with the requirements set out in EU Cosmetics Regulation EC No 1223/2009 to ensure their safety for consumers.
The regulation contains a list of approved coloring ingredients for cosmetics (annex IV). Using any ingredient not on this list is prohibited. According to the regulation, manufacturers must include all color additives on the ingredient list on the product label, no matter how low their concentrations are.
5 EU-Approved Natural Color Additives for Cosmetics
The EU’s exhaustive list of approved cosmetics colorings includes natural and synthetic ingredients. While there is no legal definition of “natural”, the EU Cosmetics Regulation does stipulate that the term should be used in a way that aligns with common understanding.
Here are five natural coloring ingredients permissible in the European market:

  1. Anthocyanins (E163)
    Anthocyanins are plant compounds that give fruits, vegetables, and flowers red, purple, and blue hues. Berries, plums, and pomegranates are just some of the many sources of these rich natural pigments.
    The EU allows the following anthocyanins in cosmetics: cyanidin, peonidin, malvidin, delphinidin, petunidin, and pelargonidin. According to the regulation, all anthocyanins must be obtained from edible plants.

  3. Beetroot Red (E162)
    Known as beet powder or betanin in the US, this ingredient has a rich red pigment ideal for lipsticks and rouges. It’s FDA-approved for food use, so you can safely use it for lip scrubs, toothpaste, and other products that may come into contact with the mouth. Beet extract may have a mild, earthy taste; however, it is virtually undetectable in cosmetics.

  5. Annatto (E160b)
    Annatto is a natural coloring ingredient derived from the seeds of the South American achiote tree. It has a deep yellow to red-orange pigment, thanks to the carotenoids it contains.
    Annatto is safe for sunless tanning products, eyeshadow, foundation, and other tinted cosmetics. It’s also rich in antioxidants, making it an appealing ingredient in functional skin care.

  7. Caramel (E150)
    Caramel coloring gives cosmetics a brown hue, ranging in shade from light gold to rich bronze. It’s a natural ingredient derived from heating sugars with acids or alkali to control the pH. The EU recognizes four classes of caramel coloring, each with a different intended use. Many manufacturers use it in conjunction with caramel fragrances.

  9. Paprika Extract (E160c)
    Paprika comes from the dried, ground chilis of the Capsicum annum species. Cosmetic manufacturers can obtain this red-orange coloring through solvent extraction. While it produces a rich color, this extract contains capsaicin, which gives chili its intense flavor. Capsaicin may cause skin irritation in some individuals, so always be cautious when using it in cosmetics.

Explore Our Range of Natural Colors and Flavorings
It’s vital to understand cosmetic regulations when formulating products for the European market. Advanced Biotech offers an extensive range of natural food and cosmetic additives, including EU natural-certified extracts. Our high-quality plant-based ingredients are ideal for cosmetic and personal care applications. Please contact us for more information.