High Def, High Tech

  • Products that accomplish a flawless look without being obvious are being paired with bold, dramatic and vibrant colors.
  • There continues to be an increasingly blurred line between reality and technology with the future of skin.
  • The benefits of a mineral cosmetic in a liquid foundation will be the next hot trend in cosmetics.
  • Enhancing beauty rather than covering up is something that resonates with today’s consumers.
  • Products with customizable coverage and the ability to self-adjust will be crucial to brand success moving forward.
  • Regardless of mainstream trends, there will always be a market for shimmer, sparkle and shine.
  • Color-change and interactive pigments will increasingly have a role in the beauty market.

As high definition becomes the standard and our world continues to go high tech, cosmetics are following suit. Products that accomplish a flawless look without being obvious are being paired with bold, dramatic, vibrant colors, with no shortage of sparkle and shine to highlight the turn of another decade. It’s a dichotomy of forces, once again driving brands to bring together the best of both worlds for consumers—combining perfection with a natural look.

“As the pressure increases to have skin that looks perfect in high definition without appearing overly made up, there is a huge opportunity for cosmetics that offer flawless skin without needing to retouch the image,” said Elle Morris, vice president and general manager, LPK Beauty.

Vapour Organic Beauty, launched in August, touts its foundations as “ethereal”—enhancing the skin for maximum effect. “Beauty is about lighting, and the Atmosphere products create a unique skin texture and natural glow,” said Kristine Keheley, Vapour co-founder and formulator. The brand claims immediate effects for a healthier appearance to the skin. “The ingredient/formulation story was all about finding the perfect balance of minerals to moisture—the thresholds are very narrow,” explained Keheley. “There’s a bit of inspired alchemy and a lot of patience involved.” Innovations in application of functional fillers and light diffusion techniques provide such solutions, no matter the skin color or type.

There also will continue to be an increasingly blurred line between reality and technology with the future of skin. A perfect example is Bare—a nontoxic, removable ink that is applied directly onto the skin to safely produce an electric charge. Similar to a temporary tattoo, this skin development was designed to be a noninvasive technology allowing users to bridge the gap between electronics and the body, according to Morris. Looking beyond the fashion and beauty industry for innovation may reveal the opportunities the industry needs to take new applications to the next level.

Invisible Skin Correction

Having customized makeup that minimizes pores and covers thoroughly without being obvious is key. To that end, DermaMinerals’ Sam Dhatt, cosmetic scientist and company founder, claims combining the benefits of a mineral cosmetic in a liquid foundation will be the next hot trend in cosmetics. The new line’s Breathable Coverage Mineral Foundation SPF 30, for example, not only provides great coverage but it works as a barrier or bandage between skin and the elements. Antioxidants, peptides and other performance ingredients work together to improve the skin’s tone and texture while protecting against free-radical damage. The product capitalizes on the popularity of back to basics mineral makeup in a tried and true format. “Consumers want healthier, better quality alternative cosmetics that benefit their skin rather than cause their skin to break out or be irritated,” said Dhatt. With brands such as DermaMinerals, the goal is to enhance the beauty rather than covering it up, something that resonates with today’s consumers.

Trying to meet multiple demands from a supplier perspective, functional fillers from ingredient suppliers such as Cospheric’s microspheres provide a perfect appearance by both filling fine lines and scattering light to hide imperfections. Red, green, blue, yellow or even multicolor microspheres make a product that is functional as well as adding a hint of color, sparkle or even a color-change effect.

Arch Personal Care has a similar invisible correction effect with its ChronoSphere Opticals that blend with skin’s natural pigments. The clear particles allow light to transfer through makeup giving the appearance of depth and dimension to skin, a must-have with the rapid spread of high-def technology that draws attention to minor details. And the patented light-controlling microlens technology manipulates skin’s natural pigments—collagen, hemoglobin and melanin. The clear coating lacks opacifying properties, making the particle adaptable to every skin type, without causing a whitening or ashy appearance. “As always, our marketing team looks at various industries beyond cosmetics as a target focus for our future products,” said Dana Smith, technical marketing manager, Arch. “Regulatory trends drive opportunistic offerings, while new technology drives our innovative offerings.” With the launch of ChronoSphere Opticals, the company was focused on trends addressing the diverse demographic of multiple phenotypes.

Such customization continues to be a big trend. “Consumers want color cosmetics that take the guess work out of finding the perfect shades for their skin,” explained Smith. Products with customizable coverage and the ability to self-adjust will be crucial to brand success moving forward.

Interference pearl pigments have been widely known as ingredients in foundations that enable effective, yet discreet skin tone correction. However, interference pigments usually reflect light in a way that adds luster to the skin—an effect not always desired when applying a facial liquid or powder foundation.

EMD’s RonaFlair Balance Colors are designed for invisible skin correction, their transparency and matte but intense color effects help create a natural complexion without any masklike results. “For products requiring a more matte look but not an ordinary flat appearance, the pigments are able to matte down the surface, with a little shine due to the base itself, without extraneous color,” said Phil Linz, EMD’s applications supervisor—cosmetic technologies.

The functional fillers are off-white powders based on small-sized mica and a proprietary coating technology using titanium dioxide and tin oxide. The pigment composition is purely inorganic (mineral-based) and, thanks to their small particle size, the skin feel is very smooth. “With the ability to mix and match for different results, the colors fill that niche for formulators in liquid and powder makeup, to offset skin imperfection through the use of color,” said Rebecca Vaiarelli, EMD marketing and sales specialist, cosmetic/candurin pigments. EMD plans to utilize them in the near future with its ethnic application kit. “They provide skin correction with minimal appearance when working with a large variety of skin types and colors for a fresh and natural look.”

Ronaflair Softshade, launched in late 2009, is a functional filler featuring a layer composition on natural mica, designed to help visually blur imperfections in the skin. So, depending on the effect sought after, this could be used along with the supplier’s Balance colors, according to Vaiarelli. The surface structure of RonaFlair Softshade is designed to scatter light in a way that creates a unique soft focus perception. The highly porous surface leads to increased oil absorption, which also supports a natural and clean complexion.

EMD has additional cosmetic pigment products to be launched around the New York Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists’ Suppliers’ Day in May as well.

Shimmer, Sparkle and Shine

Regardless of mainstream trends, there will always be a market for shimmer, sparkle and shine. Silver tones work well with today’s tinted metallic textural looks. The diversity of silver, from subtle hue shifts to dimensional metallic flake appearances, works with a variety of styles. Eckart expanded its Prestige and Mirage ranges in 2009, with a fine-grade Bright Silver, based on calcium sodium borosilicate platelets coated with titanium dioxide, representing the finest pigment grade of the Mirage product line so far. The Sparkling Luxury Gold, calcium sodium borosilicate coated with titanium dioxide and iron oxides, represents a new generation of gold effect pigments for cosmetics and personal care. The “real gold” effect, highly desired but out of reach for decades, was made possible due to the company’s proprietary technology leading to extremely smooth pigment surfaces, allowing optimized gloss and unique color purity. Sparkling Luxury Gold provides sparkle effects as well as coloring effects that can be used pure or in combination with other pigments to enhance color cosmetics for a luxurious look.

The company touts borosilicate pigments as representative of a new variety of well-known pearlescent pigments. The artificial substrates are coated with high-refractive metal oxides, such as titanium dioxide or iron oxide, enabling optimum interference effects in combination with outstanding transparency. Its characteristics provide for new dimensions in eye-catching effects.

EMD’s Xirona Moonlight Sparks is another unique product that combines a sparkle effect with color that travels from metallic gold to subtle silver. A little goes a long way to make a high impact. Color-change and interactive pigments will increasingly have a role in the beauty market, according to LPK’s Morris. Such “gonichromatic” pigments can produce different colors depending on the incidence of light and the angle of observation, enabling manufacturers to create 3-D optical effects on the skin.

The special coating technology on the calcium aluminum borosilicate substrate provides a very clear and sparkling impression, and its high transparency helps it highlight cosmetic formulas without changing their base color. To top it off, Moonlight Sparks provides superior skin adhesion, according to the company. Cosmetic formulations with long-lasting claims will particularly benefit from the enduring silvery and golden sparkling effects.

EMD’s Timiron Ice Crystal is another such high-intensity pigment that delivers a sophisticated radiance—the “wow factor,” if you will—to any product formula, even in opaque applications, without compromising color or quality. Its larger particle size is engineered to provide feel characteristics that are not anticipated by its visual appearance. “It doesn’t give you that gritty feel you might expect,” said Vaiarelli. It combines with other pigments to achieve a wide range of colorful, vibrant effects. “We’re looking to combine Timiron with other pigments so you can really see this shine,” added Linz. Timiron Ice Crystal is based on synthetic fluorphlogopite which is coated with titanium dioxide.

“Fluorphlogopite will serve as a new generation of interference pigments,” said Linz. “I can’t speak to how, but it would make sense to make interference colors with this with new coating techniques.”

Ciba also recognized the need for sparkle, expanding its Calisha Color collection of pigments with a range of six unique high chroma effect pigments. The new Calisha Impressions collection offers new and innovative approaches to delivering color. Each of the six novel effect pigments imparts a very bright, noticeable color and is available in water- as well as oil-dispersible grades.

Innovating Applications

Limitations to development are complicated by various sets of product safety regulations affecting pigments.

A new pigment must be registered and added to the appropriate list before it can be legally marketed. There are currently at least 14 such lists, including REACH. “Manufacturers are limited by coating techniques and the substrate used and the way the pigments are manufactured,” said EMD’s Linz. “And there will always be limitations, but we can move toward innovation in application.” Such limitations in addition to smarter reverse engineering techniques, low numbers of new entrants in the market and downturns in profitability (causing some to cut back on research) leads to the “commoditization” of pigments.

“It’s really a challenge to be innovative,” said EMD’s Vaiarelli. “But with dedicated R&D, there is always something new—lip topping or lip powder, or interesting combinations to make unusual applications that haven’t been thought of before.”

Using Merck’s color forecasting tool, the company takes a comprehensive look at colors and ideas and the concepts behind them. “You are not reinventing color, you are reinventing the idea to create from the color,” said Vaiarelli. “It’s taking a red lipstick and a whole image of what was popular in the ’20s and turning it around to make it work for today’s woman.” If it’s not the color, it’s the application.

Looking at the fashion industry during the recent recession, designers began to invest in unique textiles and prints to distinguish themselves. By adopting these new techniques they have been successful in creating fashion that is difficult to imitate, according to LPK’s Morris.

Transferring this to cosmetics, there is an opportunity for cosmetic manufacturers to create proprietary color palettes and customized pigments for the luxury beauty market. “Not only would these products accommodate the recent trend toward customization, but it would also be very difficult to translate to the mass environment,” explained Morris.

Going forward, consumers will continue to demand functional cosmetics, and they will become more experiential as well, merging sensorial aspects like touch, smell and scent. For example, Bare Escentuals’ Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish offers a lip color with a tingling sensation and peppermint scent in order to increase lip fullness. The claim is that when you feel the tingle, you know it’s working.

Outside the Box

Color goes behind cosmetics and fashion. The industry can learn from thinking outside the box and broadening horizons by looking for applications in textiles, glass, bioenergetics, and paints and coatings, where innovations that haven’t even been thought of yet may be hiding.

Cospheric has been working on microspheres, microparticles and powders for more than 10 years in other industries. The microtechnology company developed its own proprietary process to produce polymer microspheres with tightly controlled particle size, opacity, color, sphericity, as well as internal and surface charge and magnetic properties. The unique advantage of opaque microspheres from Cospheric is that maximum hiding power is achieved with one invisible and featherlight layer.

They are used in paints and coatings industries because they create a rich color, act as a filler by allowing the formulators to achieve the right viscosity of the product, spread easily, and ensure uniformity of the coating layer. While the company is in talks with several manufacturers, the technology has not yet been utilized yet by a cosmetics brand. But the potential is there.

More recently, the company developed a real-time, reliable technique for measuring electrostatic charge on microspheres. The technique involves creating a monolayer of microspheres contained in microstructure with each sphere being separated from its neighbors. This technique allows precise measurement of electrostatic charge of a large quantity of microspheres without allowing sphere-sphere interactions. The spheres will move in response to direction and strength of electric field. Armed with a fast and reliable technique for measuring electrostatic charge, engineers at Cospheric are able to do controlled experiments and tune their manufacturing process to produce microspheres and coatings of desired charge based on customers’ needs and specifications.

Electrostatic charge can be used in color cosmetics to control how a product interacts with the skin. Human skin has highly positive electrostatic charge. Since like charges repel and opposite charges attract, the charge of the cosmetic products can be manipulated to be more attracted to the skin—if the product is designed to be absorbed or stay for a long time, or less attracted to the skin—if the product only needs to stay for a short time and be easily wiped off the skin.

There are numerous applications of the company’s dual-functionalized microspheres as well, with most of them still waiting to be discovered. “I see it being used for creating interesting color-change effects, more effective blending with skin color or even some light-reflecting effects for younger-looking skin,” said Yelena Lipovetskaya, chief technology officer, Cospheric. “Formulators can mix microspheres to make their own formulation and consumers can buy different colors and create their own blend as well.” One particularly interesting and unique feature of these microspheres is their ability to orient themselves in response to an electromagnetic field and show a visual response. This is achieved by making spheres both bipolar and bichromal, with dipole precisely aligned with two differently colored hemispheres. The sphere will rotate in an electromagnetic field to align the more positive hemisphere to the negatively charged stimuli and vise versa. As the spheres align themselves, the viewer will observe the color of one hemisphere while the other hemisphere will be hidden from view, providing an obvious strong visible indication of the presence of the field. In an alternating electromagnetic field, these microspheres can spin at hundreds of times per second. The spheres were originally developed for very high-tolerance electronic paper-reflective digital displays, where functionalized microspheres are used to create an image that appears to the viewer. This functionality is achieved with a proprietary and patented process that allows extremely precise coating on one hemisphere without affecting the other. Each coating is custom formulated for color, charge, magnetic, electric and surface properties, and solvent resistance per customers’ needs. Color combinations are truly unlimited.

“More pigments used for industrial applications can be explored and qualified. If we could test and approve them for cosmetic applications, the industry would have so many more materials to use,” said Lipovetskaya.

As with trend forecasting, innovations that take into consideration what is happening in the world, the green movement and the global market, thinking outside the box is what will spark truly innovative ideas in the world of color. “Creativity is welcome,” said EMD’s Linz. “Even through competition, we have the opportunity to learn from each other and gain a better understanding of color and the science behind it. And it’s a good place to be.”

Sara Mason is a freelance writer based in the Chicagoland area. She was previously managing editor of GCI magazine.

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