The Ongoing Quest for Perfect Red Plant Pigments

You know how you sometimes set out to solve something and think 'this couldn't possibly take very long to get sorted' and more time passes than you care to admit and you still haven't sorted it?

(raises hand sheepishly)

Looking back over some of my notes the other day, I discovered my quest for the perfect red plant colorant (specifically for use in make-up products) has been ongoing a lot longer than I expected.

We are over 5 years and counting at this point in time.

(insert look of shock – or smirk of disdain – depending on your opinion of me)

Why am I admitting this publicly?

Because sometimes you realize it doesn't really matter how long something might take if all kinds of other cool stuff turns up along the way and enriches you with both knowledge and experience.

The trick is to step back once in a while and revisit what it was you set out to do. It then becomes quite clear how much you've learned along the way. At that point, it's also easier to figure out whether or not you want to continue doing to do what it was you set out to do.

Well, in this instance, I still do.

Take Red

Red is the be-all, end-all color for any make-up. You simply cannot make make-up without a decent shade of red. Regardless of skin color, hue, and tone, red is a necessity. It adds warmth to a foundation, an attention-grabbing pop to lips, and a glow to cheeks.

One would think capturing the natural shades of blossoms, flowers, and other gloriously red botanicals would be a snap, but botanicals are fiddly. Nature has a habit of morphing and changing with time – fresh red roses fade to a dull brown.

It's natural.

Over the years, I have been working on developing functional, color-stable make-up that can double as skincare using all different kinds of dried botanicals (some are awesome but morph as soon as they meet other ingredients), glycerine-infused botanicals (some are awesome, but morph as soon as they meet other ingredients), and oil-infused botanicals (some are awesome but morph as soon as they meet other ingredients).

I'm sure you're seeing a pattern here.

I could have just decided to use clays or minerals (which are infinitely more color-stable) and drop this silly quest, but no.

These plants have slowly but surely taken hold – because with (almost) every fail, there has also been a little success story.

What Red Plant Pigments Have Taught me so Far

Red plants have taught me all kinds of things, like
  • some plant powders can be kept color-stable when combined with certain waxes and oils
  • some plant-based glycerites can remain color-stable much longer than expected if combined with certain other ingredients
  • oil based plant colors can be tweaked far more than one might imagine
  • a combination of plant powders with oil-infusions can make for some pretty impressive shades of red

So, I'm not quite done yet. These red plant pigments have been sharing more secrets with every new test and trial.

A lot of you have asked if I plan to share what I've learned about working with plant pigments in more detail, and I think I might just have to. But I hope you will bear with me for just a bit longer while I do a bit more research and testing.

Pictured above: current stock of reddish oil-based pigments made using different infusion methods and oils. (The speckled-looking one is a jojoba infusion taken straight from the refrigerator)

Meantime, I just noticed this blog celebrated its ninth birthday a couple of days ago: Sept 27th. Time sure does fly when you're having fun. Thanks for hanging around and if you just tuned in, I hope you'll want to stick around a bit longer.

Do Tell

Have you ever been on a mission to do something that took longer than expected? Please feel free to share in a comment below.  


Britta said…
Congratulation with the nine years! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, it is interresting <3
LisaLise said…
Thank you Britta! :D
Unknown said…
Congratulations on the milestone!
I guess one could say, 'what an adventure its been, or is!"

Thanks, Lisa, for always being patient and sharing your knowledge.

You are a bright mind amidst this sector.
LisaLise said…
Unknown - What an utterly lovely thing to say! Thank you for your very kind comment - you just made my day :D
Maya said…
Hej Lisa,
For some reason it didn't leave my name - but it's me, Maya from Switzerland and Harmony Works.
Sending you a huge hug!
Shirin said…
Congratulations on your nine years. I have only just started following you and look forward to reading your blogs.
LisaLise said…
@Maya - Oh how lovely you got back and posted your name _ huge hug right back at you!

@Shirin - Welcome and thank you for your kind words! I hope you find some inspiration :D
Jade Forest Co. said…
Congrats Lise! I've been trying to crack this code for a while. So far my best chance at a plant pigmented red has been purple, yes purple fruit! Anothocyanins seem to be the key. I've tried many berries with success. The freeze dried berries are ideal, no water content. :) Congrats again, you're awesome!