natural color plant based skin care colorants pigments extracts

Switching to Natural Colors, and the DMAE & Kaolin Clay Powder Mask

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One of the major challenges in ‘natural’ skincare or clean chemistry as a whole is finding ways to color products that not only look beautiful but impart benefits of their own. The real jackpot is finding a plant-based solution that creates lasting and stable color. Happily, we have found a great solution and are pleased to announce that we are switching to plant-based extracts in our DMAE & Kaolin Clay Powder Mask, for a few reasons. Let’s start with standard and natural colors.

“Standard” Colors vs Naturally-Derived Colors

Most coloring ingredients used in the cosmetics industry are made from oxides and micas that are synthetically produced. Although they do lend stable colors to cosmetics and are widely available, they do not appear to have any innate benefits of their own in addition to color.

Although language surrounding colors, colorants, and pigments can get a little confusing, we’ll stick with calling these ingredients simply “colors” for simplicity. Natural colors are derived from plant-based extracts that have their own unique blend of colors and hues. As in art class, color theory is used to create particular colors that are perceived in the desired way in specific substances. For example, we can get one specific blend of extracts that we’ll call “light green”, but in different formulas with varying ingredients– including the preservative used — pH, and other factors, the extracts will look and react differently. It comes down to chemistry, trial and error, and patience in understanding and testing for each product.

Natural Color in the Mask

In the gentle DMAE & Kaolin Clay Powder Mask, we want only a very light, celery-toned color and have replaced the green oxide with a blend of extracts. Here we can see that not only does this blend of extracts impart a light green color when the mask is hydrated, but each ingredient provides its own skin benefits (only a few of which are listed here for FDA reasons). These include:

  • Ivy Gourd – great for soothing and calming
  • Amber – ideal to brighten skin
  • Eggplant – high in antioxidants for a youthful healthy-looking glow; also clarifying
  • Basil – cleansing and clarifying
  • Turmeric – soothing and also a light astringent
  • Algae – hydrating and nourishing

Why Aren’t Natural Colors Used More Often?

We know plant-derived colors have unique benefits and are more “natural”, so why don’t more companies use them? It largely comes down to cost and experience. Because these natural colors are much more expensive than oxides and micas, fewer companies take the time to experiment with them. A single gram of an extract blend, in powder form, can cost over a thousand dollars, so having a beginner’s mind as you test and validate and test requires truly committing to using plant-derived products.

How Can I Work With Natural Colors?

Unfortunately we do not offer these plant-based colors for sale on our wholesale ingredient side of the company, however, these are available for use if you choose to start custom manufacturing with us. If you choose to have us color a product for you, or help you create a colored product from scratch, we’d be delighted to help you choose the best colors and tones for your goals.

Alternatively, as with this pale green DMAE & Kaolin Mask, you can choose products that have these colorful extracts and can market them as naturally colored to your own customers. Consider our Rainbow Collection that contains 18 products, all of which are naturally colored and playfully scented.

There are several other more affordable and accessible ingredients that impart natural color, but they are often less stable and change over time. For example, beetroot powder is a beautiful and vibrant pinkish tone but fades to a brownish color over time. Depending on the chemistry of your formula, UV light can also accelerate the change of color. We place all our colorful products in direct sunlight for several weeks to observe the changes—some of which can be beautiful! For a great rundown of easy-to-find ingredients like turmeric or matcha that impart color, check out this article.

Moving Forward with Natural Color

As time permits we are working to replace the oxides and micas in our stock bases with natural, plant-derived colorful extracts, but as we’ve discussed this can involve a great deal of trial and error and greater expense. Keep an eye out for further notifications about ingredient deck updates as we constantly try to provide the best green chemistry and clean beauty products available.

We’d love to know your views on color in the natural and conventional beauty markets and tell us which colors work for you below.

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2 years ago