The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the arm of the federal government which regulates the use of color additives in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. There are 28 natural colors permitted for use in cosmetics. These colors come directly from plants or animals such as seeds (annatto), roots (turmeric), vegetables (red cabbage, beet juice), algae (beta carotene), insects (carmine), fruits (grape juice), etc. These exempt colors are regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Part 73. Coal Tar Dyes, FD&C and/or Lake Colors are considered artificial colors. Mineral pigments are not considered artificial colors.
When mined and in their natural state, iron oxides frequently are combined with toxic metals such as lead, arsenic, or mercury. FDA regulation of oxides used in cosmetic colorants helps assure that the oxides' toxicity levels are reduced and safe for the skin.