Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating General Science Cleanser turned BRIGHT PINK! Why?

  • Cleanser turned BRIGHT PINK! Why?

    Posted by Candace on May 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    We’ve been producing a cleansing facial cream for several years.  On two separate occasions, this typically white cream has turned bright pink!  See photo at this link - 

    The ingredients are as follows - 

    • Aqua
    • Helianthus Annuss (Sunflower) Oil
    • Decyl Polyglucoside,
    • Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate (Olivem 1000)
    • Glycerin
    • Lemongrass Essential Oil
    • Orange Essential oil
    • Grapefruit Essential Oil
    • Lime Essential Oil
    • Leuconostoc/Aloe Barbadensis Leaf/Sorbus Aucuparia Fruit Ferment Filtrate (Preservative)

    After the most recent -  surprise pink batch, we initially assumed it was the pink grapefruit essential oil, so we made a second batch using a white grapefruit oil.  Same thing.  So it has to be one of the other essential oils.  

    We have thousands of bottles that we don’t wish to see go to waste.  It would be fantastic if I could offer a scientific explanation to our clients - as to why this has occurred.  It doesn’t happen every time!  

    Any ideas?  

    DIY-enthusiast replied 5 months, 3 weeks ago 11 Members · 15 Replies
  • 15 Replies
  • johnb

    May 21, 2017 at 7:40 am

    What quality of water fo you use? It should be at least de-ionised and preferably distilled. Impure water can contain metal ions which may react with many things to form colours of various hues. Water should also be sterile in order not to contaminate the final product with micro-organisms. Fungi and moulds can produce a range of colours.

    It may be better as well to use a proper preservative in your cleanser rather than relying on Leucidal as a sole preservative.

    Do you check the pH of your products? Are the discoloured samples a different pH compared with the non-discoloured?

  • crillz

    May 21, 2017 at 10:20 am

    not sure if helps but I made shampoo that was turning pink and it was due to the citric oils (lime) mixing with the preservative we were using. Suttocide A in our case. Generally took 3 days to turn pink.

  • Candace

    May 21, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    @johnb - thank you for these ideas to note.  We do use distilled water - I’m quite certain the colour isn’t due to Fungi or Mould.  We will check the pH out of curiosity. 

    @crillz - This sounds very similar to our situation!  It takes a couple days to turn pink.  We also suspect it’s the citric oils causing the reaction.  I wish I knew how to explain what is happening.  And strangely it doesn’t happen with every batch.  

  • johnb

    May 21, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I’m quite certain the colour isn’t due to Fungi or Mould.

    Do you check this?

  • chemnc

    May 21, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    We had the same situation with a hair conditioner. Changed the formulation and it went away but were never able to figure out why. It wasn’t microbial.

  • crillz

    May 22, 2017 at 10:20 am

    We changed our preservative and the problem went away. I posed this similar question several months ago and Belassi knew the problem straight away.

  • MarkBroussard

    May 22, 2017 at 1:01 pm


    Your problem is definitely one of the essential oils.  Perhaps one of them is adulterated.

    The only way to find out which oil is to do a knock-out experiment to test which of your 4 essential oils is causing the problem.

    It is almost definitely not microbial, but why not do a quick check just to be sure.  Microbial contamination will not change the color this uniformly, nor that quickly.  

    Perhaps adding a chelating agent to your formulation might help with this in the future.

    I would tell clients that this is your new, improved “Pink” formulation … perhaps there’s a tie-in with Victoria’s Secret somewhere in there.


    May 26, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Suggest systematic deletion.Start with separation of water and oil phases and accelerate color formation if you can at 50C.I would bet on the water phase  looking at homogeneity of color and if so do knockout which should be easier with phase separation.Do the same with oil phase.

  • Unknown Member

    September 21, 2023 at 1:52 am

    Yes same, a magnesium (magnesium chloride) cream, just the top layer turned pink, under the surface white? pH okay! Rosemary Camphor & Lavender Essential Oils. Preservative Optiphen Plus.

  • PhilGeis

    September 21, 2023 at 5:58 am

    Could not open photo.

    Might be microbial contamination - a fairly common bacterial contaminant Serratia marcescens produces a red pigment and your preservative is absolute BS.

  • kefka

    September 21, 2023 at 11:04 am

    Double-check your glycerin as it could contain the impurity that turns pink when it comes into contact with an alkali, such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

  • Unknown Member

    January 6, 2024 at 3:00 pm

    Hi, I recently made Magnesium Cream for family members for Christmas. It started out white then changed to a pinkish color after packaging. I’m careful to use clean utensils so I don’t think the color change is due to bacteria since these were sealed. The finished PH is 5.0-5.25.

    Could the preservative (Jeecide CAP-5) be the problem?

    It contains Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Potassium Sorbate (and) Water
    (and) Hexylene Glycol.

  • DIY-enthusiast

    January 24, 2024 at 1:24 am

    I have a foot cream made with magnesium oil. In just 1 instance it turned pink on the surface in 2-3 days. I m clueless why it happened. My formulation includes

    Shea butter

    Jojoba oil

    Magnesium chloride

    Distilled water



    Cetyl alcohol

    Arrowroot powder

    Geoguard ECT

    Potassium Sorbate and sodium Benzoate

    Tea tree, Rosemary and eucalyptus EO

    • PhilGeis

      January 24, 2024 at 5:29 am

      Another poor preservative system. What are the micro data?

  • DIY-enthusiast

    January 25, 2024 at 7:32 am

    Thanks for the response. I m checking for bacteria and mould with microbial test kit. I feel what u r suggesting is possible since this particular time the extra water that I added to compensate for the water lost to evaporation was straight from the distilled water jar. Generally I bring water to boil and then add.

    Thanks a lot!

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