A high performance liquid chromatographic method was developed for the simultaneous determination of 10 synthetic colorants in cosmetics. The cosmetics were extracted by the ultrasonic technique with tetrahydrofuran (THF), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methanol sequentially. Then the extracts were centrifuged for purification and separated on an Eclipse XDB-C18 column (150 mm x 4.6 mm, 5 microm) with gradient elution by acetonitrile and 0.02 mol/L ammonium acetate (pH 4.60, adjusted with acetic acid). A diode array detector was used to determine the colorants with the wavelengths ranging from 417 nm to 640 nm. The linear relationships of the 10 colorants between the peak areas and the mass concentrations were obtained in the range of 0.5-20.0 mg/L (r > 0.999). The limits of quantitation ranged from 10 to 20 mg/kg. The average recoveries at three concentration levels ranged from 92.9% to 108.8% with the relative standard deviations in the range of 0.5% to 6.1% (n = 6). The method is simple, rapid and sensitive. It is suitable for the simultaneous determination of the 10 colorants in the oil cosmetics, cream cosmetics and powder cosmetics.