In this introductory video, I walk beginner chemists through how to colour match cosmetics in the lab with a real-world example. In this case, I’m trying to colour match to a more generalized description, without the benefit of a specific product to colour match to.
This issue frequently surfaces when working with market or concept developers, or brand managers, specifically when developing lipsticks. A request may come in for a lipstick that is “more pink” or “more red,” for example. There are so many colour variations in the spectrum, as well as individual perceptions, that it can be beneficial to create several options to help guide further development.
If a specific sample is not available for colour matching, consider requesting a Pantone color as an example for your benchmark starting point.
Colour matching pro tips:
- Start with a large batch of plain base product, then use smaller portions to create your samples, so the base is always consistent.
- Use three-digit scales (e.g. 0.001g) to make precise measurements to will create reproducible large-batch results.
- Make sure the lab is wind-free (e.g. air conditioning or fans). Even the smallest amount of air can throw off the scales.
- Take notes about all your measurements and results to further ensure accuracy: base product, pigments, additives, etc.
- Start with very small samples (e.g. 10g) to present options, which will help conserve materials and determine the course of further development.
- When testing samples on skin, apply across the arm, so differences in skin tone don’t impact visualization.
- Keep comparison samples so when a choice is finalized, you can use it to scale up production.
- Be patient – colour matching often takes multiple samples to get the desired colour.
Interested in more colour matching information? See the second video in the series here.
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6 Responses to “Colour Me Happy: How to Colour Match Cosmetics”
I’ve been color matching cosmetics for 37 years and these tips at most are basic.
Thank you for your feedback, Dan. Our audience varies in background and experience, so we try to provide a variety of topics and education. Is there more in-depth content you were looking for?
Content Manager, Prospector Knowledge Center
I think this is great advice and look forward to learning more. are colours suitable for lips that have been treated with seems permanent tattoo / micropigmentation?
Hi Bernie, whenever selecting colour pigments you must check with local country regulatory requirements for the part of the body to which they will be applied. Using a pigment that is permitted on the lips will not pose an issue with underlying tattoo – it is more important that the pigment itself is checked and used within regulatory limits.
May I ask how long does it take to bea skilled color matcher. The mechanical steps are easy, I am referring to seeing the required color adjustment when your tiny 400 gram batch is say 90% there. I find myself selecting improper color adjustments when the coverage is not a close match.
I am 2 weeks new to this field with an art background and wondered how many months before one has more confidence with a basic palette of 15 core dispersion pigments?
The more practice you can get, the better you will become at this. We also teach colour matching in our Certificate in Colour Cosmetics: https://personalcarescience.com.au/CosmeticScience/CertificateinColourCosmeticsFormulation-1900/. If you still need help, I would suggest you study that course and if you are stuck you can ask us for help! It won’t take long if you have good guidance to know what to do to make the adjustments you need. Happy formulating.