Why many make-up palettes feature hidden warnings
Over the weekend, beauty watchdog Estee Laundry flagged that Huda Beauty’s newest Neon Obsessions Palettes contained a warning on the inner label that the product was “not intended for the eye area.” This raised some concerns as, while not explicitly marketed as “eyeshadow palettes,” promotion for the products heavily featured imagery and videos of the pigments being used around the eyes, both by Huda herself as well as other make-up artists.
The palette, which launched on May 30, comes in three colour ranges, green, orange and pink, and as the name suggests includes many neon shades. This is where the problem comes in. Neon pigments are not FDA approved for use around the eye in the US. While the red and yellow additives that have been used in many of the shades are permitted for cosmetic use, the FDA does not permit them to be used for the immediate eye area.
Before you start tearing through your palettes searching for warnings, however, it is worth noting that in many other countries, including the UK and EU countries, these pigments are considered safe for all cosmetic uses, including around the eye. Because of this, the Huda palettes in the UK do not contain the same warning.
Despite this, many of Estee Laundry’s followers felt it was irresponsible for the brand to promote the palettes by using the pigments on the eye.
“I’d say it’s about time someone called this out! It doesn’t make sense (nor is it ethical) to promote products by demoing them on the eyes and then putting a “disclaimer” on the packaging that says not safe for use on eyes!!” wrote one commenter on Estee Laundry’s post, while another said: “It’s ok to sell product that has stipulations like it’s not eye safe but it’s NOT ok to sell a product that is designed like an eye palette without a clear warning that it’s not meant for eyes. Intentionally leaving out these details and avoiding saying “eyes” in the marketing for it is purposefully shady.”
Many people, however, were less concerned about it, feeling safe in the knowledge that other countries approved the pigments for eye-use.
“It doesn’t bother me in the slightest - because as far as I’m aware, the regulations that states it’s not safe for eye use doesn’t apply in the UK and Europe. I think if it wasn’t really safe, surely we’d have the same rules as the US? It’s always something I’ve viewed as the FDA being very very over protective about, similar to the way they view SPF as a drug.”
“I think it's annoying and slightly dodgy but then again the EU considers these pigments eye safe and the EU has a better track record of safety and keeping updated than the FDA so I'm not really worried about anyone getting hurt using these as 'eyeshadow'. I think more than anything this says a lot about litigious American culture and the FDA needing improvement.”
This is not the first time a make-up palette has caused controversy for this reason and many palettes feature similar warnings. In 2014, Urban Decay’s Pressed Pigments Electric palette made headlines for its warning that “Slowburn, Savage, Jilted and Urban are not intended for the immediate eye area.” As with the Huda Beauty palettes, this warning only covered the US and Urban Decay in the UK released a statement which said, in part:
“Everywhere but the U.S., the Electric Palette is an eyeshadow palette. Because of a technicality, in the U.S. it’s considered a multiuse artistry palette… A few shades contain a colorant that has not yet been approved for the use around the immediate eye area. However, this restriction only applies in the U.S.; in every other country where Urban Decay is sold, these shades are approved for use around the eyes.”