Itchy Eyebrows and Iron Oxides

I've started doing make-up for others... kind of.. not really. There have been a couple of urgent requests that I haven't been able to say no to. One is my itchy eyebrow buddy (how can one say no to a bud?). We're working on perfecting the color and function of her eyebrow pencils. She wants a real-dark-grey-almost-black color. Check. As for the function: the pencils I made earlier worked great, but after a few months, an occasional itchiness snuck into the picture. A conundrum to be sure, but I'm not one to take these things lying down.

Detective Work

We started looking at every ingredient together (it's not a long list). We double checked. Jojoba? Nope. Beeswax? Nope. Cetearyl Alcohol? Nope. We could find absolutely nothing that could be causing the problem. That left nothing but the pigments – iron oxides in particular.

What's Wrong With Iron Oxides

There's absolutely nothing wrong with iron oxides. They are used in make-up all over the world – both the commercial, mineral, and what is labelled natural. You will find them in everything from childrens face paints to foods. They are used in many cosmetic colors and will often be particularly concentrated in the black color.

We needed a culprit – something to point the finger at – so my bud and I decided the iron oxides were as close as we were going to get this time around.

It's nearly impossible to mix up ingredients for just one pencil.
This is the storm grey pencil 'batch' during production.
The fat pencil in the background is waiting to be filled. 

The Brief: Make it Black, But Don't Use Black

It's challenging, but not impossible to make a dark-grey-almost-black color with as few iron oxides as possible. Luckily, there are many ways to achieve black, as there are many degrees of it. The pigment I had been using in my bud's pencils was a deep black mixed with a bit of titanium dioxide to 'tone it back' to the dark grey she wanted.

Once Twice Thrice

This time, I did 3 different pencils for her.
1. In the first one, a mix of mica and iron oxides with titanium dioxide was used. It is a 'softer' black (kind of silky).
2. The next pencil had a (new for me) pigment mix called 'storm grey' consisting mostly of micas. (Before making it, I tested the color by using it straight-up on my eyebrows for a week).
3. The third pencil was a mix of deep purple micas with added silk black and resulted in a lovely smokey-deep grey.

Fingers Crossed

I've sent the pencils to my bud – now we'll see which one works best. Hopefully it will only be a question of which color she prefers!


Lola Zabeth said…
Wow! Lise, you are such a beauty super sleuth. Very interesting project!
LisaLise said…
Awww thanks Lola! Of course, I don't know if we've solved it quite yet though. Fingers crossed!