Color Me Pretty Part 1 – Cosmetic Recipes

Color Me Pretty Part 1 - Cosmetic Recipes

History of Cosmetics

Civilizations have used forms of cosmetics for centuries in religious rituals, to enhance beauty, and to promote good health. Cosmetic usage throughout history can reveal a civilization’s practical concerns, such as protection from the sun, acknowledgment within a class system, or simply for beauty.
In as early as 10,000 BCE, men and women in Egypt used scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor.  In 4000 BCE, Egyptian women applied forms of copper and lead to their faces for color and definition.  In 3000 BCE, Chinese people began to stain their fingernails with colors used to represent social class, and Grecian women painted their faces with white lead and applied crushed berries as rouge.
Over 200 years ago, women had a full line of colorful cosmetics from powders to lipsticks to nail polish.  Who would have guessed?  Some of what was used for coloring the skin was downright dangerous, such as lead, while others were things still used today, such as oxides.  Thankfully, today we have options and lots of them, including creating our own cosmetics for both personal and commercial use.  While you can make anything from anti-aging products to liquid foundations and everything in between, the easiest place to start if you have never made cosmetics before is colored make-up.  Cosmetics can be quite complex.

Making Cosmetics

Before beginning the journey in making colorful cosmetics, it is important to know a few things.  First, you must follow good manufacturing practices, especially when it comes to sterilizing your equipment.  If water is in the recipe, such as a liquid foundation, or can be introduced to the container it is in, such as a scrub, you need to use a preservative.  There are finally some promising natural preservative systems on the market for small businesses.
You need to be careful about how you represent your product and its label. Cosmetics must follow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines in the US.  If you list a sunscreen in your product, it is no longer a cosmetic, instead it is a drug in the eyes of the FDA.  Be sure you know labeling requirements.  See the resources at the end of this article.  Now let’s take a look at making color cosmetics.

Powdered Mineral Make-up

Years ago, mineral make-up became very popular in the mainstream market. Since it is often touted as ‘all natural’ (although it isn’t always), people jumped onto the band wagon and have not gotten off.  There is something about using natural and simple products with colors from the earth that make mineral makeup very intriguing.  Even better, much of the makeup is very simple to make.  In fact, you can simply dip an eye shadow brush into a container of mica that you use to make soap and be ready for a night on the town, however, adding ingredients that make it stay or keep it slick will yield a better product.
Some ingredients that you may need in creating mineral make-up are as follows:
  • Talc:  A natural mineral consisting of silicon, oxygen, and magnesium used as a filling agent to provide texture and coverage
  • Titanium Dioxide: A white crystalline powder used for coverage and in sunscreens
  • Zinc Oxide: Produced from zinc ore, a naturally occurring mineral used for coverage and in sunscreens
  • Kaolin: A natural mineral derived from aluminum silicate used for coverage, oil absorption, and to prevent breakouts
  • Magnesium Stearate: A powder made of magnesium and stearic acid use to improve slip and adhesiveness
  • Corn Starch: Controls oils in the skin


To create a good face powder, you should use a combination of these ingredients with mica to provide good coverage and nice texture, as well as preventing break outs.  Commercial products have fragrance added.  This is optional, but not everyone likes the earthy scent of the minerals.  Also, these recipes are not set in stone.  You can tweak the ingredients and their amounts and feel free to replace mica colors and even blend to get the perfect shade.  You will need a mortar and pestle for some of these formulas.

Loose Mineral Face Powder

4g Titanium dioxide
8g Zinc oxide
6g Pigment blend (see resources)
55g Talc
7g Magnesium Stearate
16g Mica Powder
1ml Fragrance (optional)
Blend the first 3 ingredients with a mortar and pestle.  Add each of the remaining ingredients blending well after adding.  Fill jars.
More Recipes in Part 2