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Making a Color Connection

Abby Penning
  • 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.”

And no matter the hue, its vividness, paleness, saturation or sheerness, a quality pigment is always important in color cosmetics. DiPietro explains DayGlo’s cosmetic pigments have been used in all types of cosmetics, including eye shadows, mascaras, lip glosses and lipsticks, blushes and even as an element in a temporary hair color hair spray product. “The range of colors you can use is wide and varied—everything from yellow to purple. The magentas, purples and pinks always seem to be best sellers, though,” he notes.

Consumers keep coming back for more of these colors because they inspire fun, youthfulness, vibrancy, comfort, empowerment and even ingenuity. As Jill Wittenberg, marketing manager for Hissyfit Cosmetics, says, “Nothing is more fun than creating gorgeous shadows because there is more room for creativity, where you can get away with high shimmer, vibrant colors and deeper hues.” And though eye makeup might feature the widest range of wearable colors, Kelly explains that the rainbow of hues doesn’t have to be limited to just eye makeup. Discussing Tarte’s LipSurgence lip stain products, she says, “We wanted to make sure these were really colorful to draw the eye and give you something to focus on.” She also notes the bright pops of color on the cheeks that can come via blush, saying, “Blush colors need to give you that pop of vitality and prettiness. It can evoke that feeling of being healthy, like you just went out for a jog.”

Of course, some of the most overlooked colors of color cosmetics are those in foundations and concealers, though just as much work needs to go into those shades. “We’ve taken a different approach to color at Hissyfit by introducing palettes that are designed to suit a woman’s skin tone in a system of shades for fair to deep complexions,” says Wittenberg. “Some of our shades were developed with our makeup artist, who coordinates palettes so that all eye and cheek shades will suit a woman’s skin. Other shades will be introduced based on trends and what the Hissyfit woman is asking for.” And being able to evolve product colors for a brand is almost as important as having quality pigments to begin with.

Changing Colors

The introduction of new and additional color offerings is one of the beauty industry’s greatest assets, as it keeps products fresh and offers new selections for consumers to buy. But knowing how to not oversaturate a line with new colors is important, too. “Nature plays a role in how often we change colors,” says Kelly. “We think in terms of seasons—breaking out of the bleak winter with bright spring pastels, blooming and fresh colors for the summer, a more dramatic, smoky look in the fall, and winter featuring more charcoals, deep plums and silvers and golds for the holidays. Our color decisions often flow with nature.”

Faulkner also acknowledges the importance of taking a studied approach to offering new pigment options. “Planning is done thorough an integration of historical data, customer input and forecasting based on knowledge of industry trends,” he says. “The decision on which colors to produce is driven by the fashion trends of the industry, which means the most popular pigments are always changing. The industry goes through cyclical phases, chiefly represented by bright bold colors, frosted-sparkle effects and muted colors.”

Additionally, a fun innovation can also be a great reason to introduce new color options to a line. DayGlo recently released its Gemini pigments line for cosmetics, which offers dual-tone pearlescent pigments that can shift colors. “The FDA restricts what you can use for eye products, so when we had these approved for the eye area, it was a lot more colorants—blues, greens and violets that pair with gold and charcoal dual tones—that can be very appealing for eye shadows,” DiPietro says.

In color cosmetics, staying consistently appealing is really the name of the game. “We are excited to introduce new colors seasonally as we grow and expand,” Wittenberg comments on Hissyfit’s recent entrance into the color cosmetic offerings market. “Although we have great SPF products and foundations, color is what keeps the brand fun and fresh.”

Color Issues

Of course, color can only stay fun and exciting if it’s based on quality, and there can be challenges in keeping the quality of color cosmetics to a consistent level. For example, “The complexion products are the most challenging because we know how hard it is to find a matching foundation, whether you are fair or dark,” Wittenberg explains. “We test several women with all different skin tones to make sure our complexion shades aren’t too yellow, too red, too ashy and so on.” And Faulkner notes, “The most important factors needed to stand out in the cosmetics market are good batch-to-batch color consistency, fair money value and the availability of the pigments in all the world markets. In today’s extremely fashion-conscious marketplace, spectacular color effects are what consumers want, and therefore, cosmetic companies value.”

Sometimes, the best way to solve problems unique to particular color cosmetic products is with customized solutions. “Customers share their requests and needs with us, and we can create custom shades from that,” says DiPietro. “With the Gemini line, we can make pretty much any combination for dual-tone colors, and that leaves a lot of options for us with custom products. Customized is the wave of the future for us.”

Color the World

Because consumers’ desires when it comes to color cosmetics are a continually moving target, constant attention must be paid in order to correctly connect pigmented products with the right consumers, including often doing product testing and tweaking. “Color is a visual experience. That means displays showing the color properties of the pigment along with samples of cosmetic products into which the pigment has been incorporated need to provide the kind of visual experience [for product development],” Faulkner says.

And when his company works with clients, DiPietro explains, “We try to put together different products and samples featuring the pigments, and then the cosmetic company uses those materials for their own formulations, and come back to us with what’s good and what’s bad. We tweak the pigments from there.”

In the end, it’s all about finding what colors are right for your brand. “It’s really cooperative research and effort, and it can take some time, but at the end, you end up with very unique color product for your customer,” DiPietro says. Which is ideal, because in discussing the Tarte brand’s signature green and purple hues, Kelly comments, “We use it to make that emotional connection, and that is so important.”

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