Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Color, Color, Color! Part I

"Nothing says Spring and Summer like color, color, color!"-- Me

When spring arrives, there's color everywhere-- green grass, pink and lavender flowers, blue skies. It's nothing short of inspiring, so out comes the colorful nail lacquer, lipstick, gloss and eyeshadow. Various ingredients both natural and synthetic go into making the beautiful colors you wear on your eyes, lips, cheeks and nails. I thought it would be fun to explore color with you from a nerd's perspective, so this is Part I of a series of all things color.... Welcome to my Glam Color Lab :-)

On the Natural Side

Natural colorants are popping up everywhere, but how do you know if your fave natural beauty product really is? Mineral makeup is mostly comprised of inorganic pigments. For this discussion, the terms organic and inorganic do not refer to the method of growth or extraction. Instead, the terms will be discussed in their chemical definitions. Simply put, organic chemicals contain Carbon, inorganic chemicals do not. Inorganic pigments are metallic compounds found in nature and refined for use in cosmetics.

Iron oxides
are inorganic pigments that are very popular in makeup products. Iron oxide colors are typically shades of red, yellow and black. They can be blended to make an array of natural colors for blush and foundation. There are no restrictions for the use of iron oxides so they are safe for eye and lip products as well.

Chromium dioxides
are another category of inorganic pigments used in makeup products. They are available in shades of green ranging from darker greens like olive or brighter blue greens, etc. Chromium dioxides are not approved for use in lip products.

Ultramarines cover a broad spectrum of color. There are ultramarine blues, greens, pinks and purples. While the ultramarine blue shades are not approved for lips, the others are all fair game for outrageous lip, eye, face and nail colors.

Manganese is a bright purple color and is also an inorganic pigment. It is most popular in lip and eye products, but that's probably obvious. When I was an undergrad chemistry student, I LOVED working with manganese because it was so pretty. I thoroughly enjoyed all my chem labs, but sometimes it's drab and mundane... manganese brightened my day a few times :-)

Iron blue is a very dark and intense blue inorganic pigment. If you haven't already noticed the trend, iron blue is not approved for use in lip products. However, it is widely used in other cosmetic products.

We've discussed the basic colors which can be mixed, matched and blended to create some amazing color cosmetics, but what about white? Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are commonly used to achieve the white color in color cosmetic products.

All of the above pigments can be found in nature. Commonly, they exist with other metals and must be separated and purified to cosmetic grade.

In future posts for this series, we will discuss micas, FD&C and D&C colorants, lakes, organic pigments, metallics and pearls, etc. You won't want to miss finding out what's really in your color cosmetics.

Got a question about color? Leave a comment!

Here's to the Glam Life!


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