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  • Color matching

    Posted by Beaker_Buddy on April 8, 2015 at 5:05 pm


    I’m running into some issues color matching both in the lab and out.  Obviously this has been an issue that has plagued the public since the dawn of color cosmetics and I’d like to know - with help from the community - what are my tools as an amateur cosmetic chemist?  
    For example, if I’m crafting the perfect color match for someone’s skin using a foundation (think: Prescriptives), and I have available to me the primary inputs (iron oxides) are there ways to objectively measure my accuracy?  I’m thinking of tools like Sephora’s spectrophotometer, which might let me know if I’m off in any direction.  
    I also understand that color match in practice is truly in the eye of the person being matched… but I don’t have any formal training and I’m wondering what I missed out on with regard to matching color.. Any tips?
    Anonymous replied 7 years, 2 months ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • AuroraBorealis

    April 8, 2015 at 6:55 pm
    I’m not very clear on what you’re asking but when it comes to color matching, it’s all about consistency in lights, angles and it helps if you’re the only one that makes the batch all the time. In my company even if a batch is made by a group of people, when it comes to adding colorants and checking the colors, the same person that prepared the first batch is usually the one involved. 

    I don’t believes there’s much that you can do on a small scale level. It’s all trial and error to get the correct color your customer wants. Save a good sized sample of the approved colour because you will refer too it for all your subsequent batches.

    I’m not sure what Sephora’s specs have to do with anything but they’re a great marketing gimmick without practical application in formulation. 
  • Bobzchemist

    April 8, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Your only choice is to do it by eye, the same way chemists have been color matching for decades. It’s all learning by trial and error, mostly.

    In my opinion, the only way to perfectly match someones skin tone is to have them present and evaluate on their skin as you go - there is no other way to get it right. Taking a close-up picture, printing it out, and then making sure that the printout matches their skin tone will give you a starting point that you’ll be able to take back to the lab and work on, but you’ll still need to tweak it in person.
  • Bobzchemist

    April 8, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    There is no formal training available anywhere for color matching cosmetics, btw. Anyone who does it professionally has learned through years of OTJ training.

  • Beaker_Buddy

    April 15, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Great!  Thank you AuroraBorealis and Bobz!

    I’ll keep chugging along and maybe eventually I’ll get the necessary OTJ experience.
  • Beaker_Buddy

    May 2, 2015 at 12:36 am

    A follow up question…

    In a typical lab setting, if you’re required to match the color of one product to a different product with different coverage and characteristics, where would you begin?  To clarify, I have product A, a tinted moisturizer with SPF ~25 and I need to color match it to product B, another tinted moisturizer with slightly more coverage and SPF ~35.  
    Ideally I’m color matching not just the body color but the color during normal application…
    Thank you for your help!
  • Iaskedbetter

    May 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Do a draw down of your standard and test batch on white paper (or draw down card if you have them) to compare the product appearance. Once you get close on paper test it out on skin. It is extremely helpful if whoever is approving the formula evaluates the color with you because what may look close on your skin might not on someone else’s.

  • Bobzchemist

    May 5, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    There is one other method to evaluate color - although this is for mass only - put three drops on a microscope slide, cover with a second slide, and gently squeeze the two slides together, then evaluate visually.

    The drawdown method comes closer to the skin results. You don’t need a fancy applicator (although they do help with consistent drawdowns) Use a wide, flexible, stainless steel spatula for your drawdown, and do it on a Leneta drawdown card. http://www.leneta.com/index.html 
    Remember - standard always goes in the middle, the batch you’re adjusting goes on either side.
  • Anonymous

    July 9, 2016 at 2:19 am

    In following on with the theme of color matching from last year, are there any color wheels which give more accurate ratios of primary & secondary colors to white base to do a color match?  Such as those that painter/artists use? I have a client who wants me to do a loose mineral foundation color match to a product she buys from another supplier.  I haven’t done formal training either in basic color formulation.  I have a very vague understanding as beauty therapist (cosmetologist/aesthetician) but as a formulator it is very weak.  The current products I make were formulations that came as part of IP when I purchased the business.  Any suggestions?

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