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.

sandy taupe
sandy taupe
mauve taupe

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.

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.



2 thoughts on “Taupe”

  1. The iron oxides are very interesting! I think of taupe as a greyish brown, cool undertones and it is a beautiful colour for makeup.

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