For example, Le Rouge Français, one of the pioneering brands in the field, uses formulations based on colourants derived from dye plants such as the dyer’s madder (Rubia Tinctorum), sappan, sacred Lotus and hibiscus. For its part, La Bouche Rouge uses pigments from algae, such as wakame (Undaria pinnatifida).

Today, it is indeed possible to create sustainable make-up formulas with a high percentage of naturalness, each component serving to amplify the action and stabilise the colouring molecules.

Flowers, roots, leaves, tubers are rich in colouring compounds

Many plants, sometimes widely used in cosmetics, contain colouring compounds offering very interesting applications in make-up.

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), also known as dyer’s saffron, contains red/brown quinones such as alizarin, purpoxanthin, rubiadin and pseudopurpurin, as well as fuchsia-pink and carmine-red carthamine. Dyer’s woad or glastum (Isatis tinctoria L.) contains indican - also present in the leaves of the indigo tree and a precursor of the blue pigment indigotine. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) contains tannins with yellow, grey-brown, ochre, and khaki colours... These are just a few examples.

Stabilise and intensify pigments

To stabilise vegetable dyes against light, pH or heat and to intensify their colouring molecules, several methods are used, including supercritical CO2, combined with the use of inert substrates such as clay, silica, calcium carbonate or sugars such as maltodextrin.

The colourants are incorporated into these substrates and stabilised via highly complex and proprietary processes. A careful dosage of ingredients in the formulations is fundamental.

To intensify the colour in formulations, natural volatile oils, such as short-chain alkanes obtained from plant biomass, can be chosen, and combined with natural film formers.

Other examples: water-dispersible pullulan can be used in water-based mascara formulations or the oil-dispersible Shorea Robusta exudate for blushes or powder foundations. These two ingredients confer resistance and guarantee the durability of dyes; they are key allies.

Various technical solutions are therefore available and can be adapted to the chosen pigments. A whole new field of action is opening up for make-up specialists today!