Crayola Issues Warning Against Making DIY Lipsticks and Eyeliners with Its Products

Here’s the FDA’s list of approved pigments for cosmetic use. They’re further limited by area of application, such as the eyes and lips.

Unlike cosmetics and personal care products, art supplies aren’t required to list their composition. Crayola crayons are made with paraffin wax, however we as consumers aren’t privy to which pigments are used to colour their products.

Here’s a discussion

of what industry trade group

Art & Creative Materials Institute’s

(ACMI) non-toxic label is and isn’t.

The [ACMI] also argues that while some institute-approved products may contain heavy metals, they are present in small enough quantities to be considered nontoxic. “If it’s not going to hurt you, then it can be labelled nontoxic,” said Laurie Doyle, associate director of the institute. “The [state health department] does have a difference of opinion on that.”

Do note that this information appears to be from the late 1980s, so their policy may have changed. Unfortunately, it has been difficult for me to find updated policies and discussion.

The latest I could find from the ACMI was them questioning whether there was enough data to label BPA as a reproductive toxicant.

Hi again – big fan of yours here! While I understand you’re super busy, I’d love to see you post more. Even small, miniscule tidbits (maybe you should get on that twitter bandwagon). Lots of q’s for ya!

…your thoughts on the benefits of astaxanthin (taken orally or applied topically) for hyperpigmentation?, which sunscreens do you use (do you use any Canadian brands?), steps non-cosmetic-chemists should take to be more informed, and what your skin care routine is like. Sorry for the barrage!

Hi battleofhe-s, thanks again for the questions!

I’m going to try to post more often, at least weekly. I’ve also setup a Twitter account at @kindofstephen.

There’s only a few (maybe only one) studies that have shown astaxanthin is beneficial for hyperpigmentation, and only topically. It’s believed that astaxanthin helps reduce some processes induced in the skin by UVB exposure. However, most pigmentation of the skin is caused by UVA exposure. I’d still prefer a person use a well formulated sunscreen that offers similar UVA and UVB protection. Orally, carotenes like astaxanthin and beta carotene can tint the skin yellow/orange which may provide a masking effect. They can also provide a UVB protective effect when taken orally, but again does not replace a sunscreen. Astaxanthin is quite expensive, and beta carotene functions similarly (as does lycopene) and can be found in supplements and foods like sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy vegetables. An insane amount can be found in a Southeast Asian fruit called gac, but I’ve never been able to find it 🙁

I actually use a Canadian sunscreen! From L’Oreal’s brand Ombrelle. Ombrelle was originally independent, but was acquired by L’Oreal at some point in the 90s – I believe. Anyways, Ombrelle uses many next-generation sunscreens like Mexoryl XL and Mexoryl SX. I use the Ombrelle Kids Water Resistant Lotion SPF 60. Ombrelle Complete Lotion SPF 60 is also a great one. The sunscreens are thick and aren’t great for humid days due to the high glycerin content, but I’ve learned to manage. I do have a Bioderma Photoderm MAX Spray SPF 50+ that I will spray into my hands then apply to my face for days where I really don’t want to look shiny at all. I’m not sure if it’s available locally in Canada though, I ordered mine online (or have friends bring it back from Europe).

Look for high levels of drometrizole trisiloxane (Mexoryl XL) and terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid (Mexoryl SX) in L’Oreal brands (as they have it patented) and bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine (Bemotrizinol, Tinosorb S, or Escalol S) and bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol (Bisoctrizole or Tinosorb M).

Brands available in Canada that have next-generation sunscreens include Bioderma, Avene, La Roche Posay, and Vichy.

Ombrelle is still the most economical one I’ve found and you can often find $3 CAD coupons online.

I think the best thing a non-chemist can do to help understand all the information available now is to take a MOOC. A first year undergraduate course in organic chemistry will help you understand the reactions, structures, and nomenclature that can often be daunting or confusing. The University of Berkeley also has a great anatomy course that covers the integumentary system available on iTunes (Lectures 43 and 44).

I currently use a micellar water (diluted low-foam surfactant solution) to cleanse my face, and an oil based (oil and surfactant solution) to cleanse my body. Then sunscreen. I also use prescription retinoids, but rotate that with 10% vitamin C and 4% niacinamide – as I am prone to hyperpigmentation.

I’m also constantly testing out new ingredients and formulations, which often means that my skin can be irritated. This is why I try to keep my regular routine quite simple!

I have a question regarding the protection Uvinul A Plus offers

 …on Wiki and in a BASF PDF, I see it listed as having peak protection ~350 nm. This means it protects in the UVAI part of the spectrum. However, skinacea lists it as protecting from UVAII (which it still does cover). Does this imply that it’s inadequate in UVAI protection? Also, how weary should I be of the BASF ppd estimator? There are some Ombrelle sunscreens I want to try, but no labelled ppd (I wish they’d use ppd 🙁 ). Thanks!

Hi battleofthe-s,

Protection offered by sunscreens occurs on a curve, UVA II is 320 to 340 nm and UVA I is 340 to 400nm.

While the peak of Uvinul A Plus (DHHB) is in the 350nm region, it still offers protection in the 320 to 340 nm area. As well as beyond the 350 nm peak.


UVB sunscreens also tend to extend into the UVA I region, and since most sunscreens contain a mixture of UVA and UVB filters, you should be well covered.

However, there is a lack of sunscreens that have a peak in the 320 nm to 340 nm range, and there are newer ones being developed to target that area – unfortunately they don’t have approval anywhere yet.

The BASF Sunscreen Simulator is for formulation use only. The only way to know the UVAPF or UVB protection offered by a sunscreen is to test it on a human panel, or in vitro for UVAPF (COLIPA Method).

You can have two identical sunscreens, but due to differences in production have an SPF of 5 or 50. The distribution of sunscreen chemicals in the product is really important for sunscreens, as well other ingredients can increase or reduce the efficacy of a sunscreen.

Unfortunately the simulator can’t account for those.

Hey there, thanks for the resource. Do you happen to know if using a facial oil with occlusive properties (passionfruit oil, in my case) interferes with a physical blocker sunscreen?

Hi theaomai, thanks for the question!

There’s a misconception that sunscreen needs to “bind” with your skin cells in order to activate protection. This is a myth for both physical (inorganic) and chemical (organic) sunscreens. 

The chemicals themselves absorb the UV wavelengths, not the skin cells – what’s important is that the sunscreen is able to form an even layer on the skin. 

Too much oil on the skin, could prevent a sunscreen from forming an even layer, just by virtue of being greasy and by preventing the sunscreen from drying or applying smoothly. Same goes with wet skin. 

If you can still move the sunscreen on the skin after you’ve applied it, that means over time gravity will pull more sunscreen into the crevices of your skin – making the sunscreen coverage uneven. Not to mention it’ll be more easily wiped off!

I would recommend gently blotting any excess oil off the skin before applying your sunscreen.

Hope that helps!