Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake for Skin: The Complete Guide

Close up of a woman wearing red lipstick and blue eyeshadow

Ãngela Rober / Stocksy / Unsplash

If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite cosmetic or personal care product is the perfect shade of blue (yes, even your mouthwash), look no further than Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake. Both ingredients are commonly found in your daily cosmetics, and with more digestible names than most, you may wonder what exactly are Blue 1 and Blue Lake 1.

“Blue 1 is a water-soluble synthetic pigment used as a blue colorant for processed foods and other applications including medications, supplements, and various personal care products and cosmetics, including eye makeup,” explains board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD. “Blue Lake [is] the water-insoluble form of Blue 1 and is created by adding precipitants and salts to Blue 1,” adds Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. 

Meet the Expert

  • Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. She is also a clinical assistant professor at Cornell where she teaches residents about reviewing the latest dermatology literature.
  • Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology who specializes in general dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, skin cancer, and dermatological surgery.

Ahead, Garshick and Nazarian break down why we see Blue 1 and Blue Lake 1 in cosmetic products and how these ingredients interact with the skin.

Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake

Type of Ingredient: Colorant

Main Benefits: Provides coloring to cosmetic products, enhances blue coloring in makeup, and provides coloring to personal care products (i.e. shampoo, cleanser, hair coloring, and mouthwash).

Who Should Use It: Given that Blue 1 and Blue Lake 1 are colorants, no one needs to use products that contain these ingredients. That being said, most of us do by default, and it’s important to note that in some cases, it may cause irritation in those with sensitive skin or those who are known to have an allergy to blue dye.

How Often Can You Use It: Nazarian shares that in the U.S. specifically, the use of Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake is unconditional—meaning there is no limit to how often you can use products containing them.

Works Well With: Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake work well in cosmetic products, helping to provide a blue color or enhance the general coloring of the product.

Don’t Use With: “While no specific ingredients need to be avoided when using Blue 1 and Blue Lake 1, it is important to be mindful of any potential sensitivity,” says Garshick.

What Are Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake?

Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake are color additives found in cosmetics and personal care. The FDA defines color additives as “any dye, pigment, or other substance that can impart color to a food, drug, or cosmetic or to the human body. Color additives are important components of many products, making them attractive, appealing, appetizing, and informative.” Straight colors, such as Blue 1, have not been mixed or chemically reacted with any other substance. Lakes, such as Blue 1 Lake, are formed by chemically reacting straight colors with precipitants and substrata.

“Although they are synthetic, Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake have been deemed safe and non-toxic for use and have been present for many years,” Nazarian explains. “They are unique because of their brilliant blue color and their stability in various pH conditions, including liquids.” Think anywhere from blue raspberry ice pops and candies to the striking colors of Morphe's 18A Blue Ya Away Artistry Palette ($20).

Benefits of Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake

What are the benefits of Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake? Turns out, there aren’t many beyond making our cosmetics more visually appealing. “There are no nutritional benefits to these dyes and very little evidence to suggest that there’s any benefit to [the] skin,” Nazarian shares. 

So, why do we see them in our everyday cosmetics? To put it simply, color benefits. Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake “specifically enhance blue coloring but may be added to help provide overall color,” says Garshick.

Side Effects of Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake

Those with sensitivity to dyes can experience irritation, redness, or dryness when using Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake on the skin. Says Garshick: “It is important to be mindful of any potential sensitivity.” 

“Blue 1 has been related to skin irritations and even long bronchial constructions, especially when combined with other dyes,” Nazarian adds. “It is not an ingredient I would recommend in skincare.” Other side effects include non-permanent dying or tinting of the skin. Think, post-makeup removal when you’ve still got a hint of blue on your eyelids.

How to Use Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake

Because Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake are dyes found in an array of products, you’d use them as your normal routine. “In general, it is okay to use [Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake] daily and they can be applied at any time, based on the type of product used,” Garshick shares. “As with any cosmetic product, when incorporated into makeup, it should be removed at the end of the day prior to bedtime.” Cosmetic brands use them to achieve the perfect “brilliant blue color,” Nazarian says, “and for their stability in various pH conditions, including liquids.”

For those with sensitive skin, however, the experts say that it’s best to avoid products with the Blue 1 and Blue 1 Lake ingredient. While they may be FDA approved, the risk is simply not worth the reward with so many synthetic dye-free products on the market. 

  • Is Blue 1 Toxic?

    Blue 1 is FDA approved with no ingestion or topical limit.

  • Is Blue 1 Vegan?

    Blue 1 is completely synthetic and therefore not created with any animal products.

  • Is Blue 1 Tested on Animals?

    Yes. Blue 1, along with other dyes including Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are tested on laboratory animals. While the dye itself is tested on animals, it's important to note that the cosmetics and personal care products it's used in may or may not be tested on animals as well.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Nutrition C for FS and A. Color additives history. FDA.

  2. Kobylewski S, Jacobson MF. Toxicology of food dyesInt J Occup Environ Health. 2012;18(3):220-246.

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