Using Spectrophotometers To Develop Multifaceted Colors in Duochrome Cosmetics


Posted on April 16, 2018

Duochrome may sound like something one would find in the automotive industry, but in recent years, it’s made its way into makeup bags around the world. Duochrome refers to a type of color changing makeup that doesn’t actually change color. Instead, its appearance changes based on the angle that it’s viewed. It’s a dramatic look that’s made its way onto many runways through the years. However, the creation of this makeup is a complex process and its ability to interact with light is key; creating colors that appear to change based on how they’re viewed requires developing a precise, exacting formula.

There’s a lot of room for error in creating these cosmetics, as development hinges on interference pigments. These pigments “interfere” with an existing color and if used incorrectly, the end result could be lackluster. As such, base color is the key to establishing a cosmetic that uses interference pigments to their full advantage. By using spectrophotometric color measurement, cosmetics manufacturers can develop a base color that works perfectly with interference pigments and move that color into mass production.

Creating Multifaceted Colors With Interference Pigments

Duochrome makeup makes use of two distinct colors to create a changeable look. There’s the base color, which is the color that is seen all the time. Then, there’s the interference pigment, which might only be viewed from certain angles. Interference pigments have been in use in cosmetics since the 1970s to add new facets to an existing color providing a shimmer, color change or pearlescent appearance.1   Some of the more common interference pigments added to cosmetics include:2

  • Mica powder: Mica is commonly used as an interference pigment in some cosmetics due to its wide availability and relatively low cost when compared to other interference pigments.
  • Aluminum oxide: Otherwise known as Alumina, this interference pigment has a crystalline structure that lends itself to a wide variety of effects in cosmetics.
  • Silica flakes: Silica flakes are commonly used in conjunction with titanium dioxide to create a color shifting appearance. While many other products shift in shades of white, this type of mineral can be used to shift in warmer shades, like adding a bit of red to blue or some of peach to yellow.
  • Titanium/Iron dioxide: These two minerals don’t usually create a color effect themselves. Instead, they act as the carrier for effect colors, due to their excellent coverage and thickening abilities.  They can also be used as whitening agents.3

These are just a few of the interference pigments, as there are virtually millions of minerals that can be used to add depth to certain cosmetics and combinations of these minerals can drastically change the end result of makeup.

In some cases, however, that end result could be unappealing. Consider an instance where a company decides to add a titanium oxide-based interference pigment to a light pink lipstick. The interference pigment could overtake the color, resulting in an end result that’s simply white. As such, interference pigments need to be used in combination with a well-chosen base color to ensure they don’t overpower that base color.

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