Colors are frequently added to disposable diapers to enhance the diapering experience. This could include their use to indicate the diaper’s orientation, highlight the diaper’s functional areas, drive consumer or child interest, or convey diaper wetness. General consumer concerns related to the use of colors in diapers has often been associated with disperse dyes, some of which are known sensitizers. The facts are: Disperse dyes are not used in the disposable diapers manufactured by BAHP member companies. The colors in use are non-irritating and non-sensitizing pigments with favorable safety profiles. Numerous safety tests of pigments used in diapers, such as skin patch tests, have confirmed their safety and have shown no evidence of skin irritation or sensitization. These pigments are commonly- and safely-used in a wide range of products including textiles, toys, school chalk and crayons, and food packaging. Through pigment selection and product design, the colors in use are intended to remain bound to the diaper and to provide their intended design and function whether the diaper is wet or dry.
Where are the Colors in the Diaper?
Diapers can have designs on the Outside (Exterior, or Diaper Chassis) and/or the Inside (Interior, or Diaper Core), which may also help designate the superabsorbent areas. Some diapers feature wetness indicators based on colors in the shape of strips or designs that undergo a change in color or fade when the diapers are wet. To help illustrate the difference, refer to the Parts of a Diaper information on this website, as also highlighted in the picture below:
- Outside Use of Colors: Colors on the exterior of the Diaper Chassis are most often printed on the waterproof breathable backsheet, or the polypropylene nonwoven fiber web that covers the backsheet, which typically is the external-most layer of the diaper. Colors may be printed directly on the front or back surface of the nonwoven web.
- Inside Use of Colors: Like colors applied to the outside layers, colors on the interior of the Diaper Core are bound to the applied fibers. As such, they do not release from the nonwoven polymeric material. Even when the diapers are full, pigments remain bound with the polymeric material and are not expected to release.
All colors used in the disposable diapers manufactured by BAHP member companies are non-irritating and non-sensitizing pigments that are evaluated for safety according to the same principles as all other materials which comprise the diaper. The colors also are tested both wet and dry to assure color-fastness, which determines their inability to come off the diaper and potentially transfer to the skin.
Safety of Colors in Diapers
Colors used in diapers have a very favorable safety profile and are not considered skin sensitizers. Diaper colors undergo comprehensive safety evaluations including human skin patch tests. Even after repeated direct topical applications within such safety studies, the colors have not demonstrated human skin irritation or sensitization.
Additional Information on Colors in Diapers
For more information about the safety of colors in disposable diapers go to clinical pediatrics article Evans, Eric B., et al. “Colors in Disposable Diapers Addressing Myths.” Clinical pediatrics (2014): 0009922814540379.