Purple: Makeup’s Problem Child


Delicate yet bold, purple is a colour that flatters by demanding attention. While being a shade that compliments most, it is unfortunately a pigment that’s notoriously difficult to work with. Purple makeup is often hit-or-miss, but have you ever wondered why it’s harder to find decent purple cosmetics more than any other colour?


Colour fit for a Prince. (Via BBC)

Like blue, you’d be hard-pressed to find a naturally-occurring purple pigment that’s safe to use; but unlike blue, a synthetic purple only came into existence in the 1800’s. Don’t get us wrong though, purple was already used before the aforementioned century, most famously by the royals. But that just begs the question of where or what the purple pigment came from.

Yup, you didn’t guess it: snails. Thousands and thousands of sea snails, all crushed for the purpose of human vanity. Of course, the gathering and crushing had to be done manually, making purple ridiculously expensive. In fact, it was so expensive that only those with the wealth of entire nations could afford them—that’s why purple is considered as the colour of royalty.


As mentioned, you can get purple naturally or synthetically; but because it’s difficult to go the natural route companies often have to mix reds and blues together. Regrettably, mixing red and blue also makes violet (although this leans more toward the blue spectrum), and this presents another issue in reformulating the colour to be safe for cosmetic use. The addition of more and more red pigments to get that perfect purple brings up opacity issues, causing it to be patchy and difficult to blend.

But don’t be depressed, purple-lovers. We only said it was hard to find good purple cosmetics, not impossible.


You are so lucky we’ve got your back. Eyeshadow? We’ve got them.

Lipstick? Ditto.

Eyeliner? Please.

Need to know more? Let us know. #beautybytes