Pigments: A Blog About Pigments And How To Use Them

You may have come across multiple colours in the foods and cosmetics arena. The colours in the products are due to dyes & pigments. 


Pigments are compounds that have intense colour in them that can be used to colour other materials.  


What is a pigment?


A pigment is an insoluble substance that exhibits colour on being dispersed. These substances do not dissolve in any solvent and impart their colour to coating materials.


Why are pigments used?


The prime purpose of pigments is to provide colour to different materials. Often, people tend to confuse dyes and pigments. 

Dyes can easily dissolve in a liquid on their own. However, pigments require a binder to get dispersed in a liquid. Pigments are used in colouring cosmetics.


Types of pigments


Pigments can be divided into three main types based on the way they have been formulated.


  • Organic pigments

Organic pigments are very simple in their structure and form and are made of carbon rings or chains. These pigments are produced by putting through simple washing, drying, powdering, and then preparing a formulation that can be easily used. Organic pigments are used to get a bright shade as they help bolster high colour strength.

e.g. – Lavanya Belmont, Lavanya Revolutum


Below are the qualities of organic pigments:

  • Colour  quality

Most organic pigments are opaque. Organic pigments include bright, rich colours that provide a powerful tint to most products. The tint strength is higher despite their transparency.


  • Highly-priced

They involve multiple high costs to be produced. Synthetic organic pigments are more difficult and costly to make based on the chemicals involved.


  • Varied lightfastness

Organic pigments are of many different varieties. While most organic pigments resist heat and light exposure well, some organic pigments tend to fade with time.


  • Inorganic pigments

Inorganic pigments are the exact opposite of organic pigments in composition. They are also called synthetic pigments as they are produced and formalized in the laboratory. It gives the manufacturer a great scope of control over the pigment. These pigments are not made of carbon chains but contain metal oxides and inorganic elements. Inorganic pigments contain opaque white pigments, which help lighten the other colours and make the colours opaque.

e.g., Iron oxides, Ultramarines


Below are the qualities of inorganic pigments:

  • Cost-effective

Inorganic pigments are cheaper than organic pigments because they are easier and cheaper to produce. These pigments can be made in large batches based on standard industrial requirements. 


  • Poor tonality

Inorganic pigments retain their colour well, but the colour produced is often dull. The tonality and brightness come through by mixing inorganic pigments with organic pigments. In addition, it helps in improving the overall colour of the pigments.


  • Fade-resistant shades

Inorganic pigments are uniquely resistant and do not fade from being exposed to light. Therefore, they can be exposed to open air and heat without worrying about these colours fading.


How to use pigments?


Before using the organic or inorganic pigments, you must consider the following for better colour formation.

  • Colour /shade required.
  • Physical form – whether you want a liquid, solid, or an emulsion
  • Properties of the food or cosmetics to be coloured  – whether they are oily, water-based, and the presence of tannins
  • Processing conditions – whether the pigment requires heated or cooled to impart the colour and the storage conditions involved.


Once these factors are decided, you need to determine the format of the pigments being used. Most pigments come in the form of dry powders. You can use dry powder pigments in the following ways.


  • Binder

Using a binder is necessary to convert the pigment into a more usable form. Choose from casein, linseed oil, tempura, or encaustic binders.


  • Dispersing agent

Most pigments are not uniform when dry. Therefore, you need a dispersing agent that will help your pigment to dispersed quickly. Next, the pigment mixes with the binder, and it all comes together, forming a compact mix. It helps give uniformity and smoothness to the pigment mix without forming any clumps.


  • Dry pigment

You can use the pigment in the dry form directly. Then, add it to your cosmetics that need to be coloured, and you have your product ready.


How can Neelikon help you find the suitable pigment?


Neelikon is a company that provides a varied range of all pigments that have low impurities. With a variety of high-quality dyes and pigments for food, pharma, cosmetic, and home/personal care industries, Neelikon aims to provide high-purity pigments for safe use. To know more, visit the Neelikon website and check the different pigments that are available. 

Neelikon Colours Global