Taupe – Beige for ninjas
Reading beauty blogs is a very educational process. I have for example just now come across a colour that hasn’t hit my radar before. I got this from Charlotte at LipGlossiping who announced that her favourite colour for eyes is taupe. Not having come across it before I googled it to discover it has quite an extensive wikipedia article devoted to it. The name comes from the French for a mole. (That’s the mammal, not the quantity of atoms for any chemists reading. It is recognisable in the scientific name for the species – Talpa europaea. ) It is supposed to resemble the colour of that animal’s fur, though given how rarely we come across moles on a day to day basis that isn’t a lot of help.
It is brown, but it is a very particular brown. It is a brown with attitude. A brown for the kind of people who know their browns.
It also has some variations – pale, light, mauve, rose, sandy, gray, deep and brown (also known as medium). Taupe is almost a colour palette in its own right.
In fact the variations might not really seem to have much in common with taupe at first sight, but I could see a common theme emerging as I looked at them. They all seem to have a close resemblance to the various forms of iron oxide I have on my shelves as pigments. They aren’t exactly the same, but you can see how the taupes could easily be blended from iron oxides.
Some iron oxides from my lab
The term first came into use in painting in the late nineteenth century, which would be about right for the start of the widespread use of iron oxide as a colourant in paint. You can be sure that the makeup artists weren’t far behind, and were probably in the lead on this.
So taupe has something to offer chemists, biologists, historians and makeup artists. Thanks to Charlotte for tipping me off about it.
The world is changing all the time, and one of the big changes is that technology is removing many of the barriers to doing things that used to exist. Had you wanted to start a cosmetic company thirty years ago you would have had to have had a pretty big slice of capital just to get into the game. But now things are available in much smaller quantities so you can launch a product with much less actual cash. This is already having an effect. The business is now much more about niche products than it used to be. Continue reading
I was glad I made the time last summer to visit the National Gallery’s exhibition of the pigments artists have used over the years. It was a fascinating business, and it is a bit sobering to remember just how much work the great masters of painting had to do before they even got to the stage of getting to the actual painting. As a cosmetic scientist it was also interesting to see just how much overlap there was between what artists and cosmeticians used, and indeed still do. It was also interesting to note that changes in the availability of raw materials and the technology for processing them have had a big influence on what could be done, another common thread that applies to both art and cosmetics. Continue reading
If you put neat alcohol onto your skin and leave it there for any length of time it will dry your skin out. This is something that is well known. The exact details of how it works aren’t that well studied, but basically it disrupts your skin’s barrier function. Consequently it is not a good idea to put a lot of alcohol into products intended for the skin. But alcohol is a useful solvent and it often ends up on ingredient lists because there is a small amount in the formulation somewhere. A small amount of alcohol is quite harmless. Continue reading
Let’s start at the beginning since as the song says, it is a very good place to start. And when I say the beginning I really do mean the beginning. Archeological finds have indicated that we have been using makeup for a very long time. In fact we may well have been using makeup for longer than we have been human. Our story starts with the Neanderthals. Continue reading
The Roman Emperor Elagabalus once threw a party for some guests, against whom he had a grudge. After they had eaten at a prearranged signal his servants poured vast quantities of rose petals onto them. They suffocated to death. Continue reading
So who thinks to themselves, “what did a Vestal Virgin Hair style looks like? “. Perhaps it isn’t all that surprising. Lots of people like history and archeology, and lots of people hair dressing. So there must be lots of people who like both. Janet Stevens from Baltimore has gone into the whole issue in a lot of detail and posted her findings on Youtube. Continue reading