One of our most frequently asked questions is what colours to use for certain products.
So following on from last week’s article, here is a quick guide to using colourants in Melt & Pour soaps.
You can find part 1 colour cp soap here.
There is no definitive usage rate for colours in cosmetic products. How much you add depends on a number of factors, including the type of colourant and the recipe used. The depth of colour will vary with the amount added. Start off with a few drops and build up to the required colour, remember to keep a note of how much you used ready for next time.
Colouring Melt & Pour Soap
Melt and pour seems to be more forgiving than cold process soap, when it comes to colouring at least. The main issue we find with colouring melt and pour is bleeding, if you want to colour layers or do some fancy multi coloured designs then you need to be a bit more picky with the colourants you use. Remember that the colour of your soap base and the essential oils or fragrances may also affect the finished colour.
Zenicolor is my out and out favourite when it comes to colouring melt and pour. It manages to maintain really good transparency and will not bleed into other layers. The colours are nice and vibrant and can be easily mixed to produce countless shades.
- Available as zenicolor5, 5 colours in convenient paste form in tubes
- Simple and clean to use
- Comes with its own mixing guide card. You can mix to virtually ANY colour you wish.
- A little goes a long way, each of the 5 tubes contains 30g of coloured paste which is sufficient to colour between 12Kg and 20Kg of soap base
- Not only that, but there’s a FREE APP (Zenimixer) for your smartphone or tablet which makes creating precise colours incredibly easy.
- Also available as Zenicolour Pro, it comes in professional sized containers designed for use by soap making professionals.
- Simple and Clean to use, and which can mix to virtually ANY colour you wish using a similar system to the familiar CKMY colouring system used in printer technology, although the actual colours used are Blue, Black, Purple and Yellow.
- Use the FREE APP (Zenimixer) on your smartphone or tablet it makes creating precise colours incredibly easy.
- It is recommended when using this product in opaque soap bases to mix the whitened base 50/50 with clear base to dilute the titanium dioxide content and help make the colours go further.
Mineral and Organic have large particle size and add colour by dispersing rather than solubilising, this makes them less suitable in melt and pour as their large particle size means they can sink, obscure the transparency and can cause spotting. Although Oxides are synthetically produced, they are “nature identical”, meaning they have the same molecular makeup as the once mined pigment from the earth.
- As ultramarines and oxides start as a powder, they need to be suspended in water before adding them to your soap. If you want to maintain the same colour through the batches you will need to ensure you are mixing to the same ratio each time and keep a note (i.e. 5g of powder in 50g of water).
- Some types of pigments (known as insoluble pigments) are NOT water soluble.
- Water Dispersible pigments are dispersions of organic insoluble pigments created by adding them to a liquid base together with an emulsifier. They disperse in water and add colour by ‘coating’ the molecules of the products they are added to.
- Pigments will not ‘bleed’ in melt and pour soaps.
Water Soluble Dyes (& Liquid Dyes) have small particle size and lend their colour to products by solubilising. The benefit of using a dye is that they maintain complete transparency which is ideal in clear liquid bases or in melt and pour soaps, The issues you may find with dyes is they will ‘bleed’ in melt and pour soaps and over colouring can cause staining so keep colours pale. Dyes are synthetic and are not considered natural or “nature identical”.
- If bought in powdered form it will need to be diluted in water, to make a concentrate use a maximum of 5% by weight in 95% water. When diluted in water, dyes often appear a different colour from that of their concentrated liquid or powdered forms.
- Dyes should always be used sparingly as over colouring can cause staining.
- Dyes can bleed into layers of the soap, sometimes this can be the look you want, but not if you want a nice crisp line of colour.
- Some of the names can be confusing; labels such as D&C mean it’s suitable for drugs and cosmetics, FD&C means it can also be used in food.
Natural Dyes are similar to synthetic dyes in that they have small particle size and lend their colour to products by solubilising, but they are derived from natural sources as is evident from many of their descriptions.
- Natural Dyes can come in powdered, granular or liquid form. When dilute or further diluted in water, dyes often appear a different colour from that of their concentrated liquid or powdered/granular form.
- Dyes should always be used sparingly as over colouring can cause staining.
- Dyes maintain transparency which is ideal in melt and pour soaps.
- Dyes tend to bleed into layers of the soap, sometimes this can be the look you want, but not if you want a nice crisp line of colour.
Natural Colours (Spices, Botanicals Clays)
Dried botanicals are a great way to decorate your soaps, but you can also use powdered plants, herbs, spices and clays to add colour and texture. A little experimentation is required as to how much is needed, but we suggest no more than 1tbsp per kg of soap base. Powders have a tendency to clump in soap base, so mix into a paste with a little water or with the measured essential/fragrance oils.
- Coloured cosmetics clays, with a wealth of natural colours available are a great way to colour soap. Saturate with rubbing alcohol (2 parts clay to 1 part rubbing alcohol) to make a paste before adding to your base.
- Ground cinnamon can be used for its colouring and decorative purposes on soaps and cosmetics. When added to soap, cinnamon gives a warm light brown shade with speckles and gives a pleasant spicy aroma. It is mildly abrasive to the skin, has gentle antiseptic properties.
- Cocoa powder is a wonderfully fragrant product that it makes an excellent addition to soaps and many toiletries, both for its warm brown colour and its curative properties. Please note, using too much may overpower your chosen scent and some people are allergic to cocoa.
- Curry powder has a pleasant sweet and aromatic fragrance and can be used as a natural colourant in soaps giving a gentle peachy yellow.
- Seaweed & Algae. Kelp, bladderwrack and spirulina as well as using for their concentration of minerals and nutrients can also add colour and texture. Kelp and bladderwrack tints a pale green-grey and spirulina is bluer. All have a distinct smell! Luckily the smell will disperse within a few weeks.
- Paprika. From blusher to eye shadow, paprika has been making women look great for decades. Its deep red powder produces a salmon peach tint to soap with russet speckles. Too much can be abrasive.
- Turmeric has been long used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent, produces a golden yellow-orange colour in CP soap.
- Flower petals will discolour in soap, calendula is an exception
Coloured Micas are fine pigment-coated mica powders which are widely used in many cosmetic applications as they add colour with a fine glittery sheen.
- Mica colours soap by suspension of their particles so heavier ones can sink. Try adding them to soap at a cooler temperature or use a suspending base.
- Mica can clump so mix into a paste with a little oil, glycerine or alcohol before adding to melted soap base, alternatively remove a small amount of the soap base mix in the powder and then return it to the pot and stir briskly
- Mica is considered natural but the type of colour used would determine if it is synthetic or natural. Dye coloured mica is synthetic, pigment coloured mica would be synthetic but “nature identical”, meaning they have the same molecular makeup as the once mined pigment from the earth.
Cosmetic Glitters and Crystalina made on a plastic base are now unable to be used in rinse off products such as Bath Bombs, Soaps, Body Butters etc. due to the Microbead Ban from January 2018. They are fine to use in Leave On products, but the ban has come into force for rinse off products.
Bio-glitter® made on a cellulose base can be widely used in most cosmetic products and adds a decadent sparkle to bath bombs and bath salts. The cellulose base makes them completely biodegradable and as such they have huge environmental advantage over standard cosmetic grade poly-glitters.
- A little goes a long way, so use sparingly.
To view the colours and application chart, click here