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The Vapour Theory of Color
By Kristine Keheley, Co-Founder and Formulator
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Behind the scenes: Natural carmine in our organic lab

Vapour was founded by passionate, conscious people and we have given ourselves the luxury of using extremely fine ingredients—ones that are more expensive and temperamental than other brands are willing to use. Our care with researching and sourcing Vapour’s ingredients extends to color in significant ways.

We use blends of mineral pigments and carmine to create the depth and breadth of color found in Vapour products. We believe carmine is simply the best way to achieve red and it has been for more than 2,000 years. Carmine’s first recorded cosmetic use was in England in 1523. Synthetic reds cannot compare to the beauty of a carmine-based red and we want Vapour to be the finest cosmetic experience you can have. Mineral pigments, the iron oxides and micas, have been used as artists’ colors since the cave paintings of Lascaux in 15,000 BC, and likely longer. These rich earthy hues are especially useful in Atmosphere Foundations, in both the Luminous and Soft Focus formulations.

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Lascaux cave painting; Indigenous carmine production

When conceiving a new shade for Vapour, I’m thinking about cosmetic history the way an artist thinks about the history of art. We know the classic shades, the on-trend shades and I have ideas about new shades. Color exists for me as a readily available visual library. This is meaningful because instead of replicating another brand’s shade, I’m able to cast a new twist on a classic for Vapour.

Many women wear a signature shade of lipstick, as they would a perfume, which palpably recalls their unique identity to all who know them. I’ve always known the favorite lipsticks my friends: who loved MAC’s Del Rio in the ‘90s, and who favored Film Noir or Twig. One of my dearest friends defined at least a decade by her use of a vampiric black cherry. Another perpetually wore a shimmering violet from Dior. Me, I was a MAC Verve and Vista addict.

A primary creative consideration is that make-up changes on the wearer based on skin tone. Take a look at the back of your hand and notice all of the undertones. I am fair and I see blue, red and even green in my skin. If you have olive or dark skin, then everything keys to those particular tones so the same shade of lipstick looks noticeably different on you than on fair skin. This undercurrent of skin color directly influences all Vapour color design.

Working on a new Siren Lipstick shade means everyone in the factory has to try it on so I can see it on their skin. That’s always the proof of a great lipstick—that it enhances everyone’s lips. A rich, classic red lipstick like Vapour’s Courage may not be to your taste or daring, but I bet you’d look smashing in it just the same, no matter your coloring. Aura Multi Use in Courtesan is a best-selling shade for the simple reason that it works on almost everyone.

Vapour Blog

Behind the scenes: Natural carmine and mineral pigments; Carmine contributes to Siren Lipstick’s rich variety of shades

What Vapour does NOT use is also interesting:
Vapour never contains coal tar or petroleum-derived FD&C pigments like some cosmetics claiming to be “natural.” Anyone with sensitivity to petroleum products should check labels for colors with numbers such as Red 40, Yellow 6, etc. These colorants have long been suspect and many have been banned since their inception in the early 20th century, because of proven toxicity dangers.

These dyes are also used in foods and many health experts believe they should be strictly avoided. Health concerns range from tumor growth, neurotransmitter alteration, endocrine disruption and ADD in children. In 2008 a UK ruling banned six specific food colorants. Despite the ban in the UK, the US continues to use these colorants. The UK has required companies like McDonalds and Fanta to use vegetable colorants in their products. In the US, Fanta orange soda is dyed with Red 40 and Yellow 6. In the UK it is dyed with pumpkin and carrot extract. Artificial colors aren’t necessary, just cheap and consistent without effort, no matter the health risk.

However, Vapour never contains plant colorants, either. Water-based, plant pigments are an interesting way to color cosmetics except that using anything water-based means that aggressive bactericides are necessary to keep the product safe for use. Those chemical bactericides, such as parabens, are not necessary in Vapour because our products are all completely water-free. By designing formulas without water, we eliminate the need for harsh preservatives, which can be detrimental to your health.

Vapour is about quality and sophistication of color, and we choose to create that from a base of sound and safe choices.


Tags: carmine, color theory
Categories: Purity


On 9/30/2013 Lilly @GenuineGlow wrote:

I always opt for water-free formulations. I'd rather having to work with a balm texture than using products that contain loads of preservatives! Vapour Beauty is one of my absolute favorites and the shades you create are so gorgeous!

Lilly @GenuineGlow

On 9/24/2013 claire wrote:

I love this! It's so cool to hear the inside scoop on such an important aspect of this amazing brand. Another reason to love Vapour!

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