What natural colorant is used in the cosmetic industry?

Cochineal carmine is the natural colorant most used by the cosmetic industries due to its attractive color shades

Traditionally, the small insect living as a parasite in the prickly pear leaves in Peru is called cochineal. This insect has been used since the pre-Inca civilizations to dye alpaca and cotton fibers by collecting these female insects to bake and dry them under the sun. Formerly, that was the traditional way of preparing the dye, the same as in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile.

Currently, the main use of this insect is in the modality of carmine, which is obtained from carminic acid produced by cochineal. It is important to note that is a versatile product of great value for many industries.

In the cosmetic industry – one of the industries with the highest demand for this natural dye – the favorite include are the HT (High tinting) carmines with very high shades of red and yellow. These are used in products for the eyes, facial powders, eyeliners, lipsticks, shadows, etc. Besides, another pigment that is used – less often – in this industry is purple carmine.

Other colorants existing in the cosmetic industry are bixin and norbixin. Both are natural colors from annatto (pulp of achiote seeds). In the case of the first one, it is fat-soluble and is used in products requiring a shade that can range between yellow and brown. However, norbixin is the part of the water-soluble annatto dye and has a yellow-red/brown shade.

It is important to highlight that both bixin and norbixin act ideally on body care products e.g. as creams (UV protection) lotions and shampoo.

It is important to mention that the cosmetic industry is the most demanding industry since it only looks for carmine shades that matches its high quality and color standards. Furthermore, it is the only dye approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you want more information about our products and their applications, contact our sales force here

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