Dye-Free Easter Egg Decorating with Kids

You know that food coloring is horrible to ingest.  But did you know that the same effects can happen just by allowing it to touch the skin?  The skin is the largest organ and acts as a sponge to anything that can be absorbed.  Did you know that the dye seeps through the shell of the eggs and will be eaten along with the hard boiled eggs?  Yep.  That's right - you may think you are just decorating the eggs, but reality is that you are allowing the dyes into your children (or yourself).

I'm including information on why you should skip the food coloring at the end of this article.  That way you can sound completely educated on this topic if a friend starts telling you that you are ridiculous for not dying your eggs in the "normal" way. (I'll probably turn that into an entire blog soon)

Easter is challenging in our house, as we have a child allergic to eggs! We also do not do food dyes or processed foods. It can get expensive trying to fill a basket with REAL chocolate and treats...  So we have resorted to just a small treat in the baskets.  We were also terrified to dye eggs with my son's allergy.  We have learned though that he can touch eggs, but not consume them.  This has allowed us to bring eggs back into our house! (THANK YOU GOD - eggs are ah-ma-zing!)

Two years ago we painted wooden eggs, and we still pull them out each Easter!  I would love to add more each year, but I also love that we get to decorate real eggs now!   I've compiled a list of all the fun ways I have found to dye, decorate, and fancy-up hard-boiled eggs - that kids can easily help with.

Dye-Free Easter Egg Decorating

You can still dye the eggs using natural methods, but I'd suggest combining this method with strings, stickers or something to give it a little more pop!

#DIY Naturally dyed #Easter eggs.. and you can spruce them up even more by putting different size elastic bands around them at different angles. When you removed the bands, it leaves artistic white lines...via just short of crazy blog. love to hear your comments and see some photos if you try!:

You're probably thinking that we're crazy, but try it out for yourself. Purple cabbage makes for the perfect robin's egg blue for your naturally dyed Easter eggs. Click for the chemical-free dye recipe.:

Dying Eggs with Foods

Allison from No Time for Flashcards makes it easy for kids to color eggs in a plastic bag! Just squeeze in some washable paints with the egg and shake up for little-to-no clean-up for parents!    Washable Paints

Liquid Water Color Eggs

If you love the melted crayon look, check out how A Thrifty Mom creates bright, beautiful eggs!  Melted Crayons Easter Eggs


Simple Easter Craft - How to Decoupage Easter Eggs

Oh the toddlers will love tearing up tissue paper for this one!  Decoupage Eggs

Older kids will love these:

Easter eggs with white puffy paint for dimensions. Let dry then decorate with dye, glitter or other paint! *repinned by WonderBaby.org:

Using puff paint, kids decorate their eggs and let them dry.  You can paint them anyway you'd like afterward!  Puffy Eggs

Grab the feathers, google eyes, and everything else craft-related for these fun eggs!   Bird Eggs

A little background on food dyes:

According to the FDA, in 2007 Americans were consuming five times more artificial food colorings than they were in 1955. That number in no way has decreased in the mast eight years. http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/banned-in-europe-food-coloring-linked-to-behavior-problems/

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of these dyes, even as they are band in other countries across the world due to their significant side effects.  Countries throughout Europe have banned against food dyes and insisted on strong labeling with warnings including all health risks to these dyes.  But yet, here in the United States we not only promote the use of dyes, but they are included as ingredients within our health-boosting supplementation and medications.

The seven FDA approved food dyes include: http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/

  • FD&C Blue No. 1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133
  • FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine E132
  • FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143
  • FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC, E129
  • FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110

Some of these artificial colors (Yellow Dye 5 & 6) are derived from toxic coal tar.  Coal tar is a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum. It is recognized as a human carcinogen, with the main concern of using it for individual colors (whether produced from the coal tar or synthetically) is the potential to cause cancer. These colors may also be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and even be combined with aluminum substrate. Aluminum compounds and many heavy metals are toxic to the brain. Coal tar is used for purposes such as: roofing, outdoor sealants, exterior paints, and heating. This should obviously NOT be ingested. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—coal-tar-dyes/

Current research is working towards providing the direct link from artificial dyes to autism, sleep disturbances and other chronic problems in children. Previous studies show links to artificial dyes and cancer, hyperactivity, ADHD, allergies, and sterility.  http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/Know-Which-of-Your-Vitamins-and-Medicines-Contain-Toxins

Each dye can be traced to its own set of possible side effects:


Blue Dye No. 1 can cause hyperactivity, skin rashes, bronchoconstriction – especially when combined with other artificial colors- and chromosomal damage. It may also cause issues with the gastrointestinal tract while inhibiting cell respiration and lead to ADHD, asthma, and other allergic reactions. (This dye is banned in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway Switzerland, and Sweden.) New studies show that Blue Dye is also absorbed through the skin. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23127598

Blue Dye No. 2 is a synthetic coal tar dye commonly added to pharmaceutical drugs and is also used as a medical diagnostic aid.  The dye, which is banned in Norway, has been known to cause nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, skin rashes, breathing problems, brain tumors and other allergic reactions.

Green Dye No. 3 is linked to tumors and gene mutations in test animals.

Red Dye No. 40 is a petroleum byproduct often used in medications and supplements that can cause allergy-like reactions, hyperactivity in children and potential cancer. Asthmatics and those intolerant to aspirin are at increased risk of a reaction to this dye, which is prohibited throughout Europe. http://www.npr.org/2011/03/30/134962888/fda-probes-link-between-food-dyes-kids-behavior

Red Dye No. 3 has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.

Yellow Dye No. 5 is one of the most dangerous artificial colors.  Derived from Coal Tar, the dye is linked to cancer and provokes asthma attacks, skin reactions, and hyperactivity in children. It has been banned in Norway, Austria, and Finland.

Yellow Dye No. 6 is linked to hyperactivity, allergic reactions, nausea, and nasal congestion. It is often used in medications and supplements Yellow Dye #6 is banned in Finland, Norway, and the UK.

Unfortunately, these reactions and their connections to artificial food dyes have largely been dismissed by the FDA.  In 2004, an analysis of fifteen studies found evidence that artificial colors worsen the behavior of children with ADHD.  Even after studies found that artificial dyes affect the behavior of children without behavioral disorders, the FDA continues to deny any significant link between food dyes and behavioral problems.

By eliminating food dyes and food additives, studies have continuously shown increased improvements in children’s behavior.


  1. Breann
    Great Article!!!
  2. cristy jones
    I don’t know how to thank you.Thanks for sharing this.