Coal Tar Dyes are colorants made out of organic compounds. They’re also known as FD&C (which stands for Food, Drugs and Cosmetics – the categories the FDA has approved their use for) and D&C (Drugs and Cosmetics) in the U.S. Coal Tar Dye itself is a known carcinogen and is frequently found to be contaminated with high levels of heavy metals, including lead.
Some coal tar dyes are easy to spot. They generally follow the formula “color” and “number,” like Yellow 6 or Red 4. They might specify FD&C or D&C in the name. Sometimes, they’ll have the word “lake” at the end.
Another coal tar dye name to remember is Carbon Black, also known as D&C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black. Carbon Black is a popular ingredient to make deep blacks for eyeliners and mascara, but is also used for foundation, blushes, and other cosmetics.
Instead of Coal Tar Dyes, HAN uses a combination of minerals and plant-based colorants (such as beetroot and carrot pigments), which are less likely to contain heavy metals.