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Powders and Pigments
DIY Makeup is fun and simple with a little knowledge, interest in what you are doing and the patience to try out your ideas. Most foundations and blushes are made from yellow, red and black oxide or brown which is a pre-blended combination of the three. Additionally, they may be small amounts of chromium green added for cool tones or ultramarine blue for warm tones. Finding the right combination can be time-consuming, messy and tedious. When you finally get your skin tone matched and colors perfectled, then it’s worth all that effort! When making your own blend for yourself make sure you take careful notes so that you can reproduce it.
Do not try to make a foundation to correct skin tone. This can be done with blushes and powders. You want to make a foundation blend to match your skin tone as closely as you can. Blending your own powders is pretty simple in theory. Here are some basic terms for different powders and formulas:
TRANSLUCENT: These powders are “see-through.” They provide your skin with color and radiance but will not cover up flaws. These usually contain no titanium dioxide.
OPAQUE: These can provide strong to complete coverage, depending on how much titanium dioxide is in the product and what type of fillers have been used.
MATTE: These have a flat, low luster appearance. This is usually a pure oxide pigment blended with a very low micron mica, or fine white powder.
HIGH LUSTER: These have a pearl-like appearance and will tend to reflect the light.
OIL ABSORBING: Fillers and pigments should preferably not absorb oil. When powders absorb oil, they tend to collect in creases in the skin.
PARTICLE SIZE: The particle size of the pearl pigment will either give you a high luster, low concealment powder or low luster, high concealment powder. The smaller the particle size, the lower the luster and higher the concealment abilities of the powder. Powders made with low luster mica tend to make the skin look smoother, whereas high luster tends to make creases in the skin more noticeable.
DISPERSABILITY: This is the ease with which you may mix pigments into products. Pearl mica pigments tend to be easy to disperse. The matte pigments tend to be difficult to disperse without special equipment.
DETERMINING THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF COLORS FOR YOUR SKIN TONE
This is really not as difficult as it may seem. All skin tones may be achieved by mixing three basic colors together: red, black and yellow.
A neutral tone would be considered equal parts of red and yellow (brown) with some black to make it darker or white to make it lighter.
You may also start with tan or brown oxide and make adjustments with the red, black and yellow. Your foundation should make your skin look as smooth and clear as possible, provide coverage and even out tone.
TYPES OF FOUNDATION
CAKE FOUNDATION OR PRESSED POWDER: These are effectively a cross between pressed powders and liquid foundations. They are pressed blocks of color with a powder element and a wax-oil element. They are good for all skin types and may be applied with a damp or dry sponge. Generally, they provide good coverage. They can also help keep the skin moisturized.
FACE POWDERS: Powders add a finishing touch to your foundation and help keep it looking fresh throughout the day. For a subtler effect, they may be used on their own. Different shades of powder may also be used to balance complexions. For example, a powder with a greenish tone helps balance redness.
CREAM-TO-POWDER CAKE MAKEUP: This is essentially the same thing as a Cake Foundation.
LIQUID: Pigments suspended in a lotion-type base.
GLOSSARY OF INGREDIENTS
PIGMENTS: Generally, cosmetic iron oxides are used for making foundation bases. A very small percentage of people are allergic to these pigments, so make sure you perform a patch test before use. In these cases, you may consider trying natural cosmetic clays.
FILLERS: Even though these are called fillers, they have important functions. These are generally powders that are blended with the pigments. They can be matte powders or translucent powders. Not only do they add bulk to the product but they are anti-caking and provide a smooth texture. One does not want to spread just pigments and bases straight on to the skin. They would in general be too dark, hard to spread, and get absorbed into the creases.
SERECITE: This is a trade name for pure mica. It is a matte, fluffy powder that has excellent anti-caking qualities and does not absorb grease. It improves the binding effects of powders and also has anti-caking properties. It adds a satin sheen versus a pearling effect to products.
BINDERS: Binders are used for pressed powders. They generally constitute about 10% of the volume and are blended into the powder. The powder is then pressed into pans. Pressed powders are a great way to enjoy both opaque and translucent powders on the go, with less mess. Perry Romanowski (cosmetic chemist) explains “What is a binder”. There are several videos and blogs circulating that use glycerin or alcohol as binders. These are not binders but will wet a product to hold it together for time. If you are wetting a broken powder that was already pressed with alcohol it may work as it already has a traditional binder in it. If you are simply wetting powders then after the alcohol evaporates they will crumble. I actually have no idea why one would use glycerin. Glycerin will attract moisture from the air and possibly lead to contamination of your product.
CLEANLINESS: Make sure your work space has been cleaned before you start. Wipe down counters and remove any other items on the counter from the area where you are working. It is a good idea to cover your counter and on the floor surrounding the work space with butcher paper or newspaper so that the pigments do not get onto the counter and stain it. Some of the powders are very light and fluffy and can quickly get everywhere if you do not prepare carefully. Your utensils need to be clean, but sterility is not necessary.
SAFETY: Wear a mask when you are blending your pigments to reduce the chance of inhaling the powders and particles. Wear gloves so your fingers do not get stained.
INGREDIENTS AND TOOLS
BLENDING/GRINDING: For larger amounts than just a few grams, you can use anything from a coffee grinder to an industrial-sized Cuisinart. For smaller amounts, you can use a mortar & pestle or small battery operated herb grinder. I always recommend combining the pigment with the kaolin or mica by hand before you put it in your blending appliance. This will assure that there is NO streaking in the powder.
Weight Scale is a must. This is something you can’t skimp on and it will be useful for all you DIY Cosmetic projects. Professionals always use weight measurements not volume. There is a good reason for this as ingredients don’t weigh the same even though the volume may be the same. The obvious example of this is that a teaspoon of lead is very different in weight than a teaspoon of feathers. Learn the correct formulating methods from the start.