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Home > The Vapour Blog > The Vapour Theory of Colour

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The Vapour Theory of Colour
By Kristine Keheley, Co-Founder and Formulator

"As Vapour’s formulator I have a unique perspective on what differentiates Vapour’s use of colour from every other cosmetics line on the market."

Colour is personal and emotional. We are as exquisitely affected by the tonal shifts in a painting as our other senses blossom under the touch of our beloved, or are awakened by the opening chords of a meaningful piece of music.

When our team conceived Vapour in the late summer of 2008, I originally wanted our name to be Colour Theory. It seemed to me that an understanding of how colour plays on a woman’s skin was the defining design constraint of a cosmetics line. I still believe in that basic precept five years, and over 120 Vapour shades later.

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 favourite lipsticks my friends, who loved MAC’s Del Rio in the 90’s, and who favoured 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.

I bring 25 years experience as a professional fine artist to Vapour’s colour palette. When I think about a new shade for Vapour, I’m thinking about cosmetic history the way an artist thinks about the history of art. I know the classic shades, the on trend shades, and I have leaps in my mind about new shades. Colour exists for me as a readily available personal 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.

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 colour and the life and blood within directly influence all Vapour product 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 colouring. Courtesan is the best selling shade of Aura Multi Use Blush for the simple reason that it works on almost everyone.

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 more temperamental than other brands are willing to use.

Our usual obsessive care with researching and sourcing Vapour’s ingredients extends to colour in significant ways.

We use a blend of mineral pigments and carmine. Mineral pigments, the iron oxides and micas, have been used as artist’s colours since the cave paintings of Lascaux in 15,000 BC. These are rich earthy hues and are especially useful in creating products like Atmosphere Luminous and Soft Focus Foundations.

We believe Carmine is simply the best way to achieve red and it has been for more than 2,000 years. It’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.

What is just as interesting is what Vapour does NOT use:

For starters, Vapour does not contain coal tar and petroleum derived FD&C pigments like some cosmetics claiming to be “natural”. Anyone with sensitivity to petroleum products should check labels for colours with numbers such as Red 40, Yellow 6 etc.

These colorants have long been suspect and many have been banned since 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 tumour growth, neurotransmitter alteration, and ADD in children. The UK has required that UK McDonalds use vegetable colorants in their products, and Fanta must make special vegetable derived coloured soft drinks for the UK market. Artificial colors aren’t necessary in other words, just cheap and consistent without effort no matter the health risk.

Vapour also does Not use plant colorants. Water based, plant pigments are an interesting way to colour cosmetics except for the huge caveat 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 Vapour products are all completely water free.

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

Tags: carmine, color theory
Categories: N/A


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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