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Making a Color Connection

By: Abby Penning
Posted: April 7, 2011, from the April 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The colors and hues a brand uses in its line of color cosmetics can encourage and shape an emotional relationship with its consumers.
  • More and more innovations are becoming available in pigments for color cosmetic ingredients, so new options and opportunities to change up a brand via color are widely accessible.
  • Focusing on core colors and what your target consumers want, as well as hues that reflect your brand and what it stands for, are most important when changing or adding colors to a color cosmetics line.

It’s something at the center of many cosmetic lines that consumers and sometimes even brand owners no longer think of first when they think of makeup. In the race to find the latest anti-aging, rejuvenating or revitalizing ingredients, it might seem secondary, but it is still there at the center of every decorative cosmetics line—colors. “Pigments are the heart and soul of the decorative cosmetics business,” says Edwin B. Faulkner, global director, cosmetics and personal care, Sun Chemical. “All of the bright, bold, shimmering color effects, and color travel exhibited by finished cosmetic products are rooted in the pigments used in them.”

“Color is crucial,” says Maureen Kelly, CEO and founder, Tarte Cosmetics. “It can evoke such an emotional response—whether it is the lip color you wore on your wedding day or it matches the green you associate with nature.” But how do you keep color innovative and fresh while still using it to strengthen your brand?

Using Color

Pigments can run the gamut in color cosmetic usage. “Our pigments are used in the whole spectrum of decorative cosmetic products, including: lip products, nail polish, eye products and liquid makeup,” says Faulkner. “They are developed to fill the color space needs of the industry—with special emphasis on the ever-increasing demand for spectacular color effects.” As technology becomes more sophisticated, more colors and color variants are possible. “We put together a palette of cosmetic pigments based on dyes the FDA will allow for use in cosmetics,” explains Tom DiPietro, vice president of research and development for DayGlo Color Corp. “Color pigments are highly regulated for cosmetics, so there is a finite set of materials you can use. Based on that, we used our technology to develop a palette of pigments for cosmetics that was really bright and clean. That was our first line—DermaGlo—and then we’ve developed more line extensions from that.”

When developing a color palette for a line of cosmetics, knowing your target customer’s desires—and limitations—is key. “When it comes to developing different colors for our range of products, from my perspective, first and foremost is the wearability of a color,” says Kelly. “Women want colors they can wear going to work, going shopping, going on a play date or on a hot date—so that’s the most important thing to me. We take those latest runway and fashion trends and translate them to wearable colors for our customers.”