Pigment for Cosmetics - Cosmetic Pigments Uses in 2024

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What are cosmetic pigments used for?

Cosmetic colorants and pigments are divided into organic synthetic pigments (including dyes, color lakes and pigments), inorganic pigments and natural pigments.

Organic pigments for cosmetics are divided into organic pigments and other pigments. Organic synthetic pigments mainly consist of dyes. Dyes must have affinity to the substrates to be dyed. They can be absorbed or dissolved in substrates, so that the dyed substrates have uniform colors. Dyes are divided into water-soluble dyes and oil-soluble dyes. The molecules of water-soluble dyes contain water-soluble groups (iodate groups), while those of oil-soluble dyes do not contain water-soluble groups.

Inorganic pigments for cosmeticsare powders that are insoluble in water, oil or solvents. But they are suitable for coloring of other substances. Inorganic pigment has higher coloring power, covering power, solvent resistance and durability than color lakes. They are widely applied in lipsticks, rouges and actors’ cosmetics.

Natural pigments for cosmetics are extracted from animals. Considering the coloring power, light resistance, color brightness and supply, natural pigments are mostly replaced by organic synthetic pigments. Some general stable natural pigments are still used in cosmetics, such as cochineal, carthamin, carotene, turmeric and chlorophyll. Cochineal is a red pigment extracted from the dry female cochineal powder of cactus. Its main component is carminic acid. Cochineal is a raw material for lipstick pigments. Carthamin is a red pigment extracted from the petals of safflowers, with a vivid red color. It is insoluble in water, but slightly soluble in acetone and alcohol. Chlorophyll exists widely in plants. It often coexists with carotene. It is an important factor in plant photosynthesis.

Cosmetic Pigment Powder

Mica Powder

Thermochromic Pigment

Photochromic Pigments

Pearl Powder

Titanium dioxide Pigment

Iron oxide powder

Chameleon Powder

Glitter Powder

Makeup Pigment Powder FAQs

Cosmetic colorants are raw materials to color cosmetics, which are also called pigments. By solubility, colorants are divided into dyes, pigments, color lakes, etc. Dyes are compounds soluble in water or organic solvents. They can be used for coloring of solution. Pigments are compounds insoluble in solvents. They are dispersed in substrates to color products. Color lakes are insoluble salts. They are used for coloring by adsorption and precipitation of water-soluble dyes onto insoluble inorganic substrates. In order to enrich the diversity of products and improve the use by customers, appropriate quantities of colorants are usually added into cosmetics.

Cosmetic pigments are made through different chemical or physical processes, depending on the color and use. Here are some common ways to make pigments.


  1. Organic synthesis:

Organic molecules are synthesized by chemical reactions. Specific colors are formed as needed.

  1. Mineral extraction:

Natural pigments are extracted from underground minerals. For example, purple pigments are extracted from amethyst.

  1. Plant extraction:

Natural pigments are extracted from plants. For example, yellow pigments are extracted from flavonoids.

  1. Nano pigment synthesis:

Efficient and environmentally friendly pigments are prepared by controlling the microstructure and composition.

Multiple steps are involved in each method, including raw material preparation, reaction/extraction, drying, etc. The quality and stability of final products should also be strictly tested and controlled.

  1. Dyeing

Cosmetics are beauty products, so color is one basic characteristic. Colorants can deepen or change colors of cosmetics, and enhance the aesthetics and attractiveness.

  1. Skin toning

Skin colors vary greatly. People in different regions have different ideas about the skin color. Cosmetic manufacturers need to develop skin toning products, to meet needs of different regions.

In cosmetics, yellow, red and brown pigments are often used to adjust the skin tone. Manufacturers of cosmetics around the world have developed skin toning products, based on local needs, physical characteristics and age differences.

  1. Improvement of consistency and transparency

Cosmetics are usually made by mixing substances that are different in consistency and transparency. For aesthetic and practical effects, colorants are needed to adjust the consistency and transparency.


Consistency control is very important. In high-consistency cosmetics, highly dispersed pigments and fillers are often used, the so-called skin care and whitening agents. Transparency control is also very important. Insufficient transparency will reduce the color reflection, beauty and practicality of cosmetics.

  1. Solubility. Dyes are soluble (some dyes are not completely soluble, such as disperse dyes). Pigments are insoluble or slightly soluble. Solubility is a very important indicator, which is decisive to many properties of pigments. In order to improve some properties, the solubility of pigments needs to be improved in media.
  2. Pigments are in the crystalline and particle form during use. They are decisive to the coloring and application performance of pigments. There are no such requirements for dyes.
  3. Colors of pigments essentially represent the medium color. The color tone varies with the fading proportion, but the fundamental color remains unchanged. That is, colors of pigments in the medium are the colors of pigment particles. Dyes are subject to chemical reactions during use, so their colors are different from the colors after dyeing.

Pigments used in cosmetics foundation are usually a mixture of inorganic and organic pigments. Commonly used inorganic pigment iron oxide is mixed with red or orange organic pigment to become the pigment of foundation.

Most colorants used in cosmetics are cosmetic grade pigments or dyes, and as long as they are added by the specified use/dosage, they can theoretically be considered non-toxic. Except for a few special groups of people with allergies.

Pigments have specific regulations or certifications such as MSDS, SDS, COA, TDS, FDA, REACH, etc.

  1. Plant extraction method

Phytoextraction is a common and effective method of extracting natural pigments. By processing and treating the plant material, the extract of pigment is obtained. There are many kinds of pigments extracted by this method, including flower petals, leaves, fruits and so on.

  1. Insect extraction method

Insect extraction method mainly uses the pigments in the body of insects for extraction, such as sericin in silk, bees in the body of bees beeswax xanthin and so on.

  1. Microbial fermentation

Microbial fermentation is a new and efficient method of extracting natural pigments. By selecting and cultivating appropriate microorganisms, they are made to produce or secrete specific pigments, such as lycopene.

10 Key Points When We Use Industrial Pigments

What are industrial pigments? Industrial pigments are for industrial products. In addition to visible colors in industrial production, they are used for product marking, anticorrosive

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What is smalt pigment? Smalt pigments are semi-finished products for handicrafts, collectively known as base smalt. They are made with a variety of raw materials

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How to use Titanium Dioxide for Soap Making? Titanium dioxide is a common additive. Titanium dioxide for soap has many advantages, such as color change, brightening, and sunscreen protection. It

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