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Color Additives

Cosmetic Color Additives fall into two categories, Organic and Inorganic. (Inorganic refers to the fact that they lack a carbon molecule and has nothing to do with the quality or purity of the Color Additive).

Organic Color Additives:

  • Dyes
    • Water Soluble (like our FD & C dyes)
    • Oil Soluble
  • Pigments
    • Lakes
    • Carmines

The Dyes can be water or oil soluble.

Water Soluble Dyes, like our FD & C Dyes, give crisp, brilliant, transparent color to your clear products and light, clean tints to your opaque products. They are great for coloring soaps, lotions, creams, powders, salts, etc. They can bleed if used in high concentrations in your products so do not over use and test in small batches. The color may not be very stable under alkaline conditions or if exposed to light, therefore, soaps made with FD & C dyes may fade.

Oil Soluble Dyes, like our Oxides & Ultramarines, can be used for a variety of oil based formulations.

Inorganic Color Additives:

  • Iron Oxides
  • Manganese
  • Ultramarines
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Ferric Ferrocyanide (Iron Blue)
  • Chromium Oxide

Inorganic Color Additives are regulated by the FDA to ensure that they do not contain harmful levels of heavy metals. Although Iron Oxides can be found in nature (rocks, dirt), they contain heavy metals such as lead so Iron Oxides for cosmetics are synthetically manufactured. They produce "earthy" tones and never bright, true colors. You can achieve beautiful muted colors with these pigments.

Iron Oxides are the most widely used of the Inorganic Pigments. There are 3 basic colors - Red, Black and Yellow Oxides. From these 3 oxides and the addition of Titanium Dioxide, you can achieve any shade of brown (Skin Tones). So if you are trying to create a skin tone foundation, blush, bronzer, this is where you start. They are stable under normal pH ranges and have excellent light stability however, they should not be subjected to high heat as the colors may change slightly.

Manganese Violet is not stable in alkaline environments so it should not be used in soap and it decomposes in water so it should not be used in water based formulations. It can be used to tint oil based products, and will give a nice mauve to deep purple tone. Do not use in lip products.

Ultramarines are mostly used in bar soap and cosmetics. They are not stable in acid conditions under a pH of 7 and will release hydrogen sulfide when exposed to acid (which will smell like rotten eggs!). They do very well in alkaline products such as soap. They are light stable.

Titanium Dioxide is used to lighten other pigments and lends opacity to formulations. Use to whiten soaps and other formulations which have undesired yellow tints.

Ferric Ferrocyanide or Iron Blue fades in alkalinity and is not for use in lip products, We do not carry an iron blue pigment, however, it is commonly found in many of our blue toned Pearlescent Micas.

Chromium Oxide Green (yellowish green) and Hydrated Chromium Oxide Green (aqua green) have excellent stability in bar soaps but tend to be heavy and difficult to disperse so they will settle out if used in a liquid formulation.

Pearlescent Micas:

Pearlescent Micas use light reflection, refraction, and transmission to exhibit their effects much like a prism creates various colors as light passes through it. They are made by coating small platelets of mica with various dyes and pigments. The size of the mica particle is measured in microns and determines the luster of the mica (the ability of the mica to bend and reflect light).

Smaller sizes will give a pearlescent effect with a smooth sheen. Medium size particles give a satin effect. Large particle sizes give a sparkle effect. The smaller the particle size is, the more opaque it will make your product. So you can use the fine micas to opacify transparent soaps. Some micas are first coated with an iron oxide which absorbs light and then it is coated with an interference color to reflect light. The result is a two-tone mica which changes color as it turns. Micas can be heavy and therefore may settle out in low viscosity. To use in soaps, pour your soaps at cooler temperatures as they will suspend the micas better. To achieve the real effect of a mica in soap, the particles need to be aligned in the same direction - you can try pouring your soap and then "combing" the surface of the soap in one direction using a spatula. You will get different results when you add micas to colored verses non-colored soaps. Having a background color enhances the effects of the mica.

Using Color Additives:

Using Organic Dyes: Mix with water if you purchased a powder form. Add your liquid dye drop by drop to your product and stir until the desired color is achieved. These will not work in oils or oil based products like lip balm.

Using Inorganic Pigments:. Begin by dispersing the pigment in oil. Then blend the pre-dispersed pigment into your batch. These will not work in water formulations such as body sprays or low viscosity formulations such as body oils.

Using Pearlescent Micas: Add them to a dry medium (such as salts, or powders) and stir or disperse them in oil or water and blend into your batch. When adding to soap, you can disperse it in a little bit of liquid soap first and then blend into the whole batch.

Using Color Additives can be tricky even for someone with a chemistry background. They always require testing. Colors may bleed, fade, speckle, change over time, not result in the color you expected, etc. Colors will be affected by the color of your base, any fragrances used, other ingredients, pH and other variables. We cannot provide all the information necessary for the proper use of color additives here and therefore we encourage you to do your own research. Color additives should not be used directly on the skin. Even micas should be combined with fillers and then properly preserved for making cosmetic blushes, etc. We do not provide any technical support for the formulation of eye and face cosmetics. DO NOT use any of these Color Additives for making eye products without proper technical knowledge. When making lip products, double check to make sure the product can be used in lip formulations.

View Color Additive Sizes and Pricing

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