Monday, March 20, 2006

Mineral Makeup for Women of Color

06/22/06 UPDATE. After posting this, I received an email from a woman who had followed our link to Ada Cosmetics in order to make a purchase. Her experience was frustrating and she asked me to advise potential customers of that fact. While her money was refunded on a lost or never sent shipment, the process of communicating with the company was not to her satisfaction and she felt it was completely unprofessional.

So . . . . now that you have read my warning, here is the original post:

A new line of mineral makeup catering to the ethnic market has been announced. Please visit to view their 18 unique foundation shades and other products. I don't know the owner of this company, but I wish her well. It is a market that is definitely underserved with regard to the mineral makeup products.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Color Trouble Shoot #2: How to Adjust Colors

Adjusting a product's color as a last step in processing is not uncommon at all -- people in industry do it all the time. It's kind of the nature of the business.

The first step is to first figure out in what way a the color of your product is off. The big guys use computers and sensors for this and have very precise ways of measuring hue. We have to depend on our eyeballs and a good sense of color.

Here is what we do at TKB Trading, but it is not the only way to handle things.

Let's say we make a foundation which has a very simple recipe of: 10 grams titanium dioxide white, 20 grams sericite mica, 4 grams yellow oxide, 1 gram red oxide (this is just for discussion, please don't run out and make this foundation as I have no idea what it will look like).

The "Base" of this recipe is the titanium dioxide and the mica. The "Color" is the yellow and red.

We start by mixing together the base ingredients. Typically, we will mix more than what we need (in this case we'd mix twice the amount, 20 grams of white and 40 grams of mica). We measure out what we need (10 grams of white and 20 of mica) and set the extra aside in a zip lock bag.

Next Steps: we mix together the colors; we add the colors to the base ingredients; we compare the results with the original sample that we are trying to match. To compare, we may use any of the tests which I discussed in the Color Troubleshoot #1 post.

If we determine that the color is, say, too red, then clearly we need to add yellow. But to just add pure yellow oxide directly to the batch we are working on could be a disaster. Pigments are very intense and it is easy to add too much color.

Instead, we take some of the pre-made, set-aside Base and to it we add some yellow. For example, we might take 5 grams of base and add to it 2 grams yellow. The result is kind of a "color corrector" of yellow.

We then add small amounts of this "color corrector" yellow to our batch, little by little, keeping careful notes all the while.

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to make color adjustments on your own. If you come up with suggestions, feel free to share.

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Color Trouble Shoot #1: How to Test for Color Variations

As suppliers of raw materials, we try to make sure that our products are consistent batch to batch. But that doesn't mean that we always succeed. Once we received 100 pounds of a brown oxide which was definitely more red than the "old brown". Another time, we received a titanium dioxide white which was heavier than the "old white".

The result in both cases was frustration for our customers who found their finished products were "off-color" as a result. (In the industry, we call this being "Off-Spec", short for "Off Specification").

Receiving raw materials which are Off-Spec is not as uncommon as you think. So, I recommend that when you come up with a formula you like, you make a point of keeping samples of each of the raw materials used in the formula, as well as a sample of the finished product. Label these and set them aside in a safe place so that you can refer to them in the event that you run into problems.

The day that you find your formula is turning out completely Off-Spec, go back and pull out these samples. Then look at the raw materials you used in your new, Off-Spec batch. Then compare. Here are are some of the tests that we use:

  1. Visual. Usually, you can just look at the color and see a difference. In the case of our Off-Spec Brown, it was obvious.
  2. Touch. Sometimes the product feels different. In the case of our Off-Spec White, the color looked the same, but it felt heavier. We confirmed this by weighing 1 teaspoon of the old and new and finding a significant difference.
  3. Draw Down Test. This is useful when comparing colors. Take a small amount of each sample and put them side by side on a sheet of white paper. Using a palette knife, press hard and then pull the knife down the page (do each color one at a time). By doing this, the difference in color sometimes becomes more obvious.
  4. Paint Down Test. Similar to the Draw Down, take a small amount of each sample and wet each with water and then draw the color down just as if you are painting a line.
  5. Whiteout Test. This test is also useful when comparing colors. Take a small amount of each sample and add it to a larger amount of titanium dioxide white, or a similar whitener. Whitening the colors really makes the differences "pop".

The purpose of these tests is to first of determine that there is a difference, and then secondly to figure out what the difference is. You are looking to determine if there are differences in intensity or hue (or both).

If the colors are different in intensity, they are essentially the same shade, one is just darker than the other. In this case, the fix is too use less of the darker color (or more of the lighter one).

If the colors are different in hue, they are essentially the same intensity, but they have a different shade. For example, the brown may be more red and less yellow. Or the blue may be more red and less violet. In this case, the fix is too adjust your recipe by adding a little bit of the missing hue. I cover how to do that in my next Blog Post.

Finally, and importantly, if you do not see a big difference in your colors or raw materials, you need to take a hard look at your manufacturing process. A big, big factor in variations batch to batch is how you mix your products. If you normally mix for 30 seconds, and then one day mix for 2 minutes, the shades are very likely to be different. If you normally mix in a small coffee bean grinder and then switch to larger batches in a blender, you are very likely to see changes. The changes in this case should mostly be related to "intensity", and can be adjusted by using less or more of your total color blend.

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