Lake Colorants Exposed: How Dangerous Chemicals Are Lurking in Your Lipstick
Lake colorants are synthetic dyes used in body care like mouthwash and cosmetics, especially lipsticks to create colors like red, yellow, blue, and green in solid products and liquid solutions. These colorants are far from safe and contain dangerous metals that can be absorbed through your skin and harm your body. Let’s take a look at the harmful effects of lake colorants and how you can avoid them.
Lake colorants are primarily used in body care and cosmetics in order to make products look more attractive and… well, “colorful” to the eye. You may see them listed in the ingredients as Yellow No. 2 or Blue No. 1, Yellow 5 Lake, or Blue 1 Lake. However, these colorants are synthetic and not naturally produced or derived from natural sources. Instead they can contain aluminum and tin oxide, the first of which is accumulates within the body causing “oxidative stress” (Source). Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the body’s molecules which can lead to “pathophysiological conditions in the body.”
“Some of these include neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, gene mutations and cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, fragile X syndrome, heart and blood vessel disorders, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack and inflammatory diseases (Source).”
Yellow 5 Lake is a special case; it contains the chemical Tartrazine. Tartrazine (Yellow 5 Lake) is an xenoestrogen. Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable and therefore build up in the body over time.
“Build up of xenoestrogens have been indicated in many conditions including: breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes” (Source).
You may be thinking that your lipstick and body care product colorants will not affect you. But think about how often you use your lipstick and body care products every day. These lake colorants are ingested when you place lipstick on your mouth and eat, drink, and lick your lips. These Lake colorants are also absorbed into the tissue inside your mouth and on your skin.
Recently, I looked at the ingredients in my mouthwash. Imagine my horror when I discovered that my mouthwash contained Yellow 5 Lake (Tartrazine)! There was even a small warning on the label that stated that the mouthwash contained Yellow 5 Lake. The company knowingly put this chemical into the mouthwash. Why? Because it made the color of it prettier. If I had not known what damage Yellow 5 Lake and other colorants can have on my body, I may have dismissed the label, not knowing what I was putting in my body.
Two Ways to Avoid Lake Colorants
1. The top way is to read your ingredients. Lake colorants are usually listed in the last lines of the ingredient label.
2. Look for lipsticks made with organic ingredients and without additives and lake colorants.