Using Natural Colors for Your Beauty Products
A very commonly requested item from our customers is “how to create natural colors”. We are seeing a shift finally in the natural cosmetic world where the “natural colors” such as tans, khakis and creams (most commonly referred to as “granola”) are no longer the indication of natural. Nature is vibrant in colors and we want to help you celebrate Mother Earth’s colorful blessings.
I’ve split this into a few categories. Items you can find with natural colors in the everyday kitchen, items you can find in your everyday garden, and then items that Essential sells online. Most (though not all) of the following natural colors will be muted and not vibrant like FD&C colorants, micas and oxides.
Colors from the Kitchen
Turmeric: A vibrant yellow can be made by extracting Turmeric in alcohol. We recently made a toner with a neon yellow glow simply by extracting turmeric through 100% organic cane sugar alcohol. While you may not be able to buy 100% alcohol, you can go to your local liquor store and ask for the highest proof clear alcohol they carry and achieve the same results.
Saffron: Yet another great kitchen spice for a rich yellow color! Again, alcohol extraction seems to produce the brightest color.
Paprika: A lovely orange/red hue can be achieved using paprika. Carotenoids, such as capsanthin and capsorubin, are the main compounds responsible for the red color.
Coffee: Creates a lovely tan to rich brown and smells amazing! Use coffee in place of water in your formulation for an amazing aroma and lovely color.
Tea: From black tea to hibiscus tea, a wide range of colors can be achieved using tea in place of water in your formulas.
Colors from the Garden
Alfalfa Leaf: This sweet-smelling grass gives a lovely medium green tone.
Beet Root Powder: Extracted through oil, this root gives a gourd yellow color and contain antioxidants.
Calendula: Produces a lovely warm yellow/orange color and is known for its skin soothing benefits.
Annatto: Annatto is derived from the seeds of the achiote tree and gives a yellow to orange color.
Pumpkin: Creates a lovely pumpkin color!
Alkanet Root: from the borage family, this root yields a lovely blue/purple color
Colors from Essential
Beet juice powder: Extracted through alcohol, beet juice powder gives a rich red pink color and contains antioxidants.
Activated Charcoal: Provides anywhere from a light grey to a black grey depending on quantity used.
Beta carotene powder: Extracted through alcohol gives an orange color
Blue Green Algae Powder: Creates a rich blue/green color and contains a full spectrum of minerals, chlorophyll, B Vitamins, Beta-Carotene, Pro Vitamin A, Lipids, enzymes, essential amino acids, nucleic acids, DHA and EPA fatty acids.
Kelp Powder: creates a more muted green color and has a high concentration of natural nutrients including vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium.
Matcha green tea powder: Provides a bright green color and also has a high caffeine content; it’s a powerful antioxidant power due to the high content of polyphenols and Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Pomegranate fruit powder: This powder makes a lovely pink and you get the added benefits of powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are just too numerous to list here.
Seabuckthorn Berry Oil: A rich red/orange oil that can completely saturate any oil blend with its beautiful and vibrant color.
Carrot Seed oil: A green oil with a rich aroma.
Carrot Seed CO2: A bright orange extract.
German Chamomile: A deep rich blue, a small amount of this essential oil is all it takes to get a rich blue color.
Capsicum: Lends a rich red/orange, however, this is very hot on the skin so use sparingly in products that you want to be warming
Pink Clay: brownish pink color and great for aiding in chaotic skin
While you could certainly add most of the ingredients above directly to your lotion, crème, toner, or anything you’re making and get some great colors, using an extraction of the color may give better results.
Extracting These Colors
To extract these natural colors, we employ a few different methods: alcohol extraction, glycerin extraction, oil extraction and water extraction. Alcohol extraction seems to produce the brightest and most vibrant color. Glycerin, water, and oil extractions are beautiful but tend to be muted. Another important factor to be aware of with color is pH as this can greatly affect color. Depending on pH what is blue in an alkaline solution turns to a pink in an acidic solution as demonstrated in our YouTube video – pH: What it does and why it matters.
So how does one create an extract/infusion/maceration/tincture to then add to their final product? Well first, make sure your plant product is fully dry. If you’re using plant matter from your garden, clean well and then dehydrate.
Make sure your plant matter is chopped up into small pieces and put them into a container that is airtight. Pour your alcohol or oil or glycerin over the top of your plant matter, covering the plant matter very well. You can then place this airtight container in a hot room or a warm sunny location for 2 weeks. The heat will gently allow the oil to extract the plant properties, even if it’s just color you’re searching for. I recommend stirring that product daily as this will encourage the chemicals in the plant to infuse into the medium you have chosen. After 2 weeks, sift your medium until completely clear of all plant matter.