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Black Iron Oxide

Inorganic Compound

Iron Oxide

Other Name(s):

Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499); Red Iron Oxides (CI 77491); Yellow Iron Oxides (CI 77492); Black Iron Oxides (CI 77499); E172; CAS# 1332-37-1; CAS# 1332-37-2; Iron (II) & Iron (III) Oxides

Iron oxide pigments are synthesised in laboratories nowadays. The natural sources of iron oxides are mined from magnetite and limonite deposits but can often contain other heavy metals that you wouldn’t want to eat or absorb through your skin.

Is Iron Oxide Faithful to Nature?


Iron oxide pigments are safe to use in cosmetics and in foods when made according to strict Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Benefits: Why is Iron Oxide Used?

Natural Colourant

Iron oxides provide a wide array of warm pigments from deep reds to pitch blacks.

Natural Foundation

Iron oxides help to provide shades for all skin tones in foundations, concealers etc.

Make Up That Stays

Iron oxides have amazing staying power, reducing the need for reapplication of cosmetics.

Safe Food Additive

Iron oxides are safely used in foods to give them a range of vibrant colours.

Iron oxides are most commonly found in cosmetics but can also be used as food colouring. You’ll very likely find iron oxides in your favourite red lipstick, foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, eyeliner and more. It’s also commonly used in foods like cakes, sweets and more.

Iron oxides are made with an extremely simple process. By treating a solution of ferrous sulphate with an alkali and oxidising the precipitate in hot air. Since the iron present in these oxide precipitates is in the ferric form it’s not actively available to body tissues and safe for food and cosmetic applications. This process also eliminates contamination from other heavy metals like mercury and lead.

Iron oxides are some of the oldest natural pigments known to humanity. Some of the oldest cave paintings in South Africa (up to 77 000 years old!) are made using ochre, which gets its warm colours for a high iron oxide content.

Certain shades of tattoo ink use iron oxides as a body-safe pigment.

Some less than reputable food producers have been found to treat their salmon meat with iron oxide pigments (E172) to make them appear more pink.

Notice: The information provided here is not intended as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

Products Containing Iron Oxide

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