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Do you know the difference between 'dye' and 'pigment'?

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Color is a very precious thing.

What if color disappears from this world, and all matter is distinguished only by white and black?

So how desolate would it be if we no longer see such beautiful colors as red rose petals?

It's terrifying just thinking about it.

Especially in cosmetics that actively help people who want to be beautiful, this color is really important.

So people in the cosmetic industry need to know more about color.

The basic substances that give color are called colorants.

In cosmetics, colorants are used in many different ways, and in makeup, they stand out and are essential.

Pigments can be characterized by their ability to absorb visible light (400 to 700 mm), and depending on their ability to absorb visible light, they appear in different colors.

There are many ways to classify pigments, but in simple terms, they can be divided into ‘dye’ and ‘pigment’.

Dye refers to a substance that is dissolved in solvents such as water, alcohol, and oil to give color. It is mainly used in basic cosmetics such as skin care items, hair products such as dyes, and is also used in color cosmetics such as lip tints.

Pigment refers to a colorant in powder form that is not soluble in solvents such as water, alcohol, and oil. Similarly, it is used in basic cosmetics such as skin care items, hair products such as dyes, and is also used in color cosmetics such as lip tints.

In fact, pigments have been used since the Stone Age. You may have seen paintings on the walls of caves in history books or museums. The paintings commonly seen in cave paintings are inorganic pigments, the first human pigment.

Pigments, especially organic pigments, are being developed with the development of science and technology.

For those with a little more time, we will now break down the pigments in detail.

It can be broadly classified into organic synthetic pigments, inorganic pigments, and natural pigments.

Organic synthetic pigments are further divided into dyes, lakes, and organic pigments.

Dye - Tar

It is a substance that can be colored by dissolving in water, alcohol, oil, etc. Because it can be easily extracted from petroleum, mass production is possible, but highly toxic pigments should be used after confirmation. In general, it is widely used in lipsticks and nail polishes.


Lake is used with pigments in lipsticks, nail enamels, etc. Lake is divided into two main types, and the dye that is difficult to dissolve in water is insolubilized in water with a salt such as calcium is called 'lake pigment'.

In addition, a dye lake is a product that is adsorbed on alumina by insolubilizing easily soluble dyes with aluminum sulfate or zirconium sulfate.

Organic pigment

Organic pigments are colored powders that do not have soluble groups in their structure and are insoluble in water, oil or solvents. It has excellent coloring and gloss, and is widely used in makeup products other than lipstick.

Inorganic pigments are chemically inorganic pigments, also called mineral pigments, which are made from natural minerals, processed, or made from metal compounds as raw materials. It is used in make-up products for color imparting, covering power, formulation maintenance, and gloss.

Inorganic pigments can be classified into white pigments, extender pigments, and color pigments.

Extender pigment

The extender pigment controls the particle size and shape by pulverizing clay minerals. Talc, which is often used in baby powder, is a typical example. It adjusts the color with a diluent for coloring pigments, and has good spreadability and adhesion (persistence) to the skin. In addition, it has the advantage of having a good gloss (silky feeling).

Coloring pigment

Bengala, iron sulfate, and iron oxide are iron compounds with different color tones and are red, yellow, and black colored pigments.

White pigment

The two most common white pigments are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It is widely used in cosmetics because of its high stability to light, heat, and chemicals. Ultra-fine particles of titanium dioxide are very small, so they have excellent transparency and are used in sunscreen products because they block UV rays.

Natural pigment

Natural dyes are difficult to mass-produce, so they are expensive, and it is difficult to obtain high-purity pigments.


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