People say that we begin a meal with our eyes, which is why food is carefully colored, plated, even styled before being photographed. The same thing goes for cosmetics and bath & body products. Have you ever gawked at a bar of soap, or oggled a bath bomb? I think it would be fair to say that we may very well smell with our eyes too. Thus the importance of making your bath & body products as gorgeous as possible.
There are so many ways to add color, texture, and interest to your products. Some formulators delight in using the brightest, boldest colors available, while others opt for the more painterly appearance yielded by natural herbs and spices. There are also those who dabble in the middle ground, using mineral colorants which could be considered synthetic or natural, depending on your point of view.
So which is the best method of coloring handmade products? The answer is up to you, and up to your products, of course. We'll go over a wide range of Color Additives, and talk a little about what each one is best used for.
D&C and FD&C Dyes: These synthetic dyes are very, very potent. They are available in water soluble or oil dispersible varieties, and can be added to almost any type of formulation. D&C and FD&C dyes produce bold, vibrant colors, and can be adjusted, drop by drop, to achieve a desired shade. They can even be mixed and matched to produce new and unique colors.
The biggest "catch" with D&C and FD&C dyes is that they have a tendency to bleed. That means that if you layer one color on top of another, say in a soap or a layered body butter, the colors will look amazing at first, but in a few days they will begin to bleed into each other, which is not very attractive. These dyes can also fade over time. This is not a big deal when it comes to short shelf life products, such as lotions, but if you plan to store items, like scrubs, soaps, etc. you may be dissapointed when the colors fade in a few months. Learn more about D&C and FD&C Dyes here.
Oxides & Ultramarines: Natural minerals can yield amazing colors, but they are often laced with dangerous components, such as heavy metals or poisons. In order to use these minerals safely, they are often processed or completely reproduced synthetically in a lab. That puts these ingredients into a "gray area" when it comes to categorizing them and natural or synthetic. Though they are virtually identical to natural minerals, they have been altered for safety's sake.
Oxides & Ultramarines yield incredibly vivid, matte colors. They are often used in makeups and lipsticks, but are also very popular for use in soap making. These ingredients are dry powders, but they can be dispersed easily into oil. After being mixed with oil they can be introduced into a wide variety of formulations. Use Oxides & Ultramarines to add dense, matte color to soaps, lotions, body butters, lip balms, and bath bombs. They are not soluble in water, so be sure to only add them to the oil phases of your recipes. Learn more about Oxides & Ultramarines here.
Pearlescant Micas: These mineral based colorants can be used to add shimmering, multi-facated color to soaps, bath salts, cosmetics, lip care products, and bath bombs. Mica Powder is a natural mineral that has been crushed into a fine powder for use in cosmetics. A variety of synthetic dyes, Oxides, Ultramarines, and natural colorants are combined with Mica Powder to create a huge pallette of colors. Because Pearlescant Micas come in such a broad variety of formulations, they are not universally suited to all recipes. Make sure to check with our Mica Safety Guide to select the correct Mica for your recipe. Also, be sure to take a close look at the notes of each Mica if you are using them on Cold Processed Soaps, as certain Micas can cause seizing. Learn more about Pearlescant Micas here.
Jojoba Wax Beads: Jojoba Wax Beads are made from Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil and D&C Dyes. They can be melted to add color to oil and wax based formulas, such as body butters, balms, body oils, etc. Leave them whole to add color and exfoliating value to scrubs and cleansers. They can also be included in suspension type liquid soaps and body washes. Learn more about Jojoba Wax Beads here. We've used Jojoba Wax Beads in several Natural Beauty Workshop recipes. See how we've used Jojoba Wax Beads to color our Candy Cane Sugar Scrub, and our Coconut & Plum Whipped Body Butter.
Natural Tinting Herbs: Colored herbs can be used in several ways to incorporate natural color into formulations. Powdered Herbs can be added directly to scrubs, soaps, and powders. To add herbal color to lotions, lip balms, or body oils, the herbs should be infused into water or oil phases. Learn more using natural herbs to color products here.