Using Spectrophotometric Color Measurement to Optimize Quality and Efficiency in Rice Production
color quality rice
With growing cost of rice production, quality control is becoming more important than ever to improve yields and optimize efficiency. Image Source: Shutterstock user WR.SISI

There are about 482 million metric tons of rice produced globally every year and even relatively small farms typically have high output.1 The average rice farm contains about 600 acres of productive growing land and this much acreage, coupled with the product, requires significant oversight through both growing and production. At a time when the cost of production is growing, this oversight becomes more important than ever to maintain profitability; in the past ten years, expenses in producing rice have jumped significantly, reaching an average of $115 per active acre.2 With rising costs and high production volume, rice farmers must now take extra steps to ensure maximum quality with every harvest.  

Maintaining the quality of output, however, can be a challenge. As such, many modern farms integrate sophisticated technologies throughout the production process, facilitating crop management, harvesting, and milling. Today, a key component of optimizing quality control is the use of spectrophotometers that measure rice color, an important indicator of quality.

color quality rice
Color is often a clear indicator of rice quality. Image Source: Unsplash user Vitchakorn Koonyosying

Key Indicators of Rice Quality

There are many types of rice plants and potentially thousands of rice varieties which can be created by crossbreeding those plants. Due to the variation of rice from plant to plant, there’s no universal system for establishing rice quality.3  There are, however, a variety of factors known to indicate quality and farmers use these factors to develop their own quality criteria. They include:

  • Milling degree: The milling degree is a clear indicator of quality, as it determines viable rice production per batch of rough, unprocessed rice. The more rice must be milled to reach optimum quality, the more product volume is lost as milling removes the outer surface of the rice, making it smaller with each pass. Meanwhile, insufficient milling can impact cooking behavior and compromise usability.
  • Whole vs. damaged grains: The optimum size of rice grain is not determined by quality, but on overall demand. Some consumers may prefer long grain, others short. As such, rice farmers tend to grow for their market. However, one thing that is a definite quality indicator is the amount of rice which remains whole after processing, as brittle rice cooks poorly and is therefore undesirable to consumers.
  • Chalkiness: Malformed starch granules cause rice to develop areas of thick, opaque white rather than a slightly translucent appearance throughout. This chalky white rice has a higher tendency to break during milling and is considered undesirable in most markets.
  • Whiteness/Color: Both white and brown rice can be tested based on a whiteness scale, with different levels of white represented as numbers from one to 100, with 100 representing perfect white. For example, brown rice may measure as a 20 on this scale, while white rice measures as a 40.  Anything brighter would indicate chalky rice. This scale is important to ensure all varieties of rice conform to color expectations based on successful growing practices and have an attractive appearance to consumers. The scale can also be used to correlate color to milling processes and determine how well-milled the rice needs to be to achieve optimum results.4

With a high volume of rice to test, most manufacturers face challenges in finding effective ways to review issues of quality in rice production and streamline their systems. Because color can provide important guidance regarding a number of quality parameters, color measurement is an important strategy rice farmers can implement to overcome these challenges and ensure quality, streamline production, and maximize efficiency. As such, spectrophotometers are increasingly being used in both farming and milling, facilitating rapid and accurate quality assessment.

color quality rice
Integrating modern technologies, including spectrophotometers, throughout the rice production process is imperative to optimizing quality. Image Source: Shutterstock user wk1003mike

The Role of Spectrophotometers in the Rice Industry

Spectrophotometers can be used to boost useable volume production in virtually all parts of the rice farming process, from growth to milling, as color can offer a clear indicator to ensure rice is adequately cared for and milled effectively. In order to obtain the meaningful color data necessary to optimize quality, spectrophotometric testing can be implemented at a number of points in the production process, including:

  • During growth: Early rice color can be indicative of anything from incorrect moisture levels to potential fungus issues. Spectrophotometric color measurement can help to detect early issues so they can be resolved prior to harvest.
  • Before and during milling: The color of rice both before and during milling is a clear indicator of how much processing will be required to create good, food grade rice; the darker the husk, the more milling will be needed to create white rice. By reviewing test samples with a spectrophotometer, the producer can ensure their milling practices are suitable, allowing you to gain the most usable product from every milled batch.  
  • After milling: Overall rice quality is established after the product has been milled, allowing the producers to correctly price their products according to quality. This step can also assist in creating a target color for all future rice yields.

Spectrophotometers offer proven results when it comes to establishing the ideal quality of rice. However, choosing the right spectrophotometer is imperative to ensure accuracy, precision, and speed of color measurement. The ideal spectrophotometer is one that will allow for testing of irregular sample using sophisticated technologies that can account for height and texture. HunterLab’s Aeros, for example, is a state-of-the-art non-contact instrument specifically designed for this type of color measurement. With SMART features such as automatic height positioning, a rotating platform, and a large sample area, you can achieve the highest level of color measurement accuracy every time. Because the Aeros is designed for simplicity of use, this cutting-edge spectrophotometer eliminates the need for complex sample preparation and drastically reduces the risk of operator error, improving speed and guarding against incorrect results. Combined with our EasyMatch QC Essentials software and advanced communication features, you are able to gain extraordinary insight into color behavior to improve the efficacy of your color quality control process and, ultimately, your product.

Consumer demand for rice is showing no signs of slowing down, but the cost of growing rice rises with the costs of seeds, water, and energy. Rice farmers need to ensure they’re able to maximize their viable product from every harvest to manage production cost increases without compromising the quality of output.  Spectrophotometric technology such as the Aeros can thus be an invaluable tool to increase yields, control costs, and enhance quality.

HunterLab Technology

HunterLab’s comprehensive range of spectrophotometers is ideally suited to manage rice production and eliminate waste. With over 60 years of experience in the field, our instruments are designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers, keeping accuracy, durability, and ease of use in mind. For rice producers, this can translate into improved production processes and products as the result of enhanced quality control. Contact us to learn more about our renowned spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services and let us help you select the right tools for your needs.

  1. “Rice – Statistics & Facts.” https://www.statista.com/topics/1443/rice/
  2. “Agricultural Resource Management Survey: U.S. Rice Industry.” https://www.nass.usda.gov/Surveys/Guide_to_NASS_Surveys/Ag_Resource_Management/ARMS_2014_Rice_Highlights.pdf
  3. “Aromatic Rice.” http://books.irri.org/8120414209_content.pdf
  4. “Rice Knowledge Bank.” http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/training/fact-sheets/postharvest-management/rice-quality-fact-sheet-category/item/physical-quality-of-milled-rice-fact-sheet
Spectrophotometers Ensure Efficacy of UV Sensor Products to Protect Consumers From the Sun
spectrophotometer uv sensor products
UV sensors are offering consumers an innovative and simple way of protecting their health. Image Source: Unsplash user Giammarco Boscaro

Photochromic color change—where a product changes color due to UV exposure—isn’t just a novelty as seen in products like color changing t-shirts or cosmetics. A growing number of companies are harnessing the power of photochromic color change to create UV sensor products designed to warn users of excess sun exposure. One such product is UV wristbands; after putting these wristbands on, you apply sunscreen to both yourself and the band. As UV exposure increases with prolonged time in the sun, the wristband turns from a light, nearly translucent color to a deep purple, indicating that you should apply more sunscreen. When the band turns cream color, it acts as a warning to the user to get out of the sun entirely.

At a time when 3.3 million people suffer from some form of skin cancer each year, often related to sun exposure, these innovative UV sensor products offer consumers a new way to protecting their health and wellbeing.1 However, the company’s ability to guarantee correctness of UV indication is critical and the efficacy of these products hinges on thorough testing by manufacturers to ensure that color change is noticeable, easily interpreted, and correctly timed. One of the key ways manufacturers can evaluate the efficacy of their products is by integrating spectrophotometric color measurement within their production process, allowing for deeper insight into color behavior.

spectrophotometer uv sensor products
80% of UV rays penetrate cloudy skies, which means sun damage is always a risk. Image source: Unsplash user Pete Bellis

Color Changing UV Sensors Protect Users

Some photochromic color changing products, like t-shirts, stickers and even cosmetics, change based on any sun exposure, but don’t offer the consumer a warning of excess sun exposure. While such accessories are undoubtedly fun, they should not be confused with products designed to warn users about dangerous levels of UV exposure.

Any photochromic product designed to be an accurate UV sensor can be used as a warning system, telling the user when to apply more sunscreen or cover up. While some products are being developed to function without sunscreen, most currently work in conjunction with the user’s sunscreen to provide an early warning to apply more product or go inside. 2  To work effectively, these products must be capable of multiple transitions, moving from the original color to the warning color to the final shade based on precise analysis of UV levels. The transition must also be reversible, allowing the product to return to the original color upon sunscreen reapplication. Additionally, they must not be impacted by things like moisture or pH balance, as this could compromise readings, and they must be non-porous to prevent malfunction due to prior sunscreen application.

For many, UV sensors are eye-opening. While it is generally understood that prolonged exposure to the sun on hot, sunny days can be dangerous, many don’t realize that they can passively suffer from sun exposure when they’re not expecting it. This is true even when sunburn may not appear to be an issue, as 80% of the sun’s UV rays are capable of passing through the clouds on an overcast day, contributing to skin damage.3 This is why products that warn a user of excess sun exposure can be game-changing—but only if they’re appropriately sensitive and accurate. By using spectrophotometers, the makers of these products are better able to create effective transitions to warn the wearer when they’ve been in the sun too long.

spectrophotometer uv sensor products
A well-made UV sensor can warn the wearer to get out of the sun when UV levels become too high. Image source: Unsplash user Evan Kirby

Using Non-Contact Spectrophotometers for Multi-Stage Color Measurement

The primary goal in the creation of UV sensor products is to make them sensitive enough to monitor UV rays, but not so sensitive that they give false positives of overexposure, and to use color to communicate UV data. Spectrophotometers play a pivotal role in this process, as they are designed to measure color with the highest level of accuracy. This is imperative, as companies who produce these products need to be able to effectively time how much time and how much UV exposure is required to reach a certain color. For example, in the described UV wristband, the spectrophotometer can be used to correlate color change to UV exposure by continuously monitoring the color of the wristband while separately monitoring the UV exposure with a separate sensor.

The testing for color accuracy in UV sensing products should be performed in multiple stages to observe color behavior at critical points of product use, including:

  • In its original form, before the application of sunscreen: By testing prior to sunscreen application, the manufacturer can establish the appropriate base color.
  • After the application of sunscreen: The color should be tested again after the application of sunscreen and through various levels of UV exposure. In doing so, the manufacturer can ensure that it reacts appropriately to the UV exposure, producing the expected colors correctly.
  • After reapplication of sunscreen: After reapplication, color data can be gathered to ensure that the product returns to its original color, already established in step one, resetting the UV sensor.

Choosing the right spectrophotometer is essential to this task. Due to the application of sunscreen, a non-contact spectrophotometer is necessary for accurate color measurement as well as to avoid messy and time-consuming clean ups and potential damage to the spectrophotometer’s sensor. Due to the surface area required for accurate measurement, several wristbands can be stacked together for this measurement process. By using a non-contact instrument, these innovative products can be tested rapidly, safely, and effectively, streamlining the quality control process and ultimately protecting consumer health.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a leader in color measurement technologies for over 60 years. Today, we offer a complete range of portable, benchtop, and on-line spectrophotometers designed to meet the diverse and exacting needs of our customers. Combined with our sophisticated software packages, HunterLab spectrophotometers give you the highest level of insight into color behavior, helping to ensure that every product you release into the marketplace looks and acts the way you and your customers expect. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments and how they can help in the creation of color changing products.

  1. “Key Statistics for Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers”, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  2. “Too Much Sun? Color-Changing Sensor Alerts User To Overexposure”, October 4, 2016. https://www.medicaldaily.com/too-much-sun-color-changing-sensor-alerts-user-overexposure-399918
  3. “Six Common Sun Myths, Exposed”,  July 11, 2012. https://www.cnn.com/2012/07/10/living/guide-to-sun-safety/index.html
Spectrophotometers Can Ensure Color Quality in High-End Oil Paint Manufacturing
oil paint spectrophotometer
Artists seeking out high-quality oil paints are driven by a desire for consistent, predictable results. Image source: BigStock user Art-World

When artists are seeking out a new color to put on a canvas, they tend to gravitate towards machine mixed paint from manufacturers they trust. While in many cases, handmade items are in high demand, in artist-grade oil paint the opposite is true. Machine-mixed paint, as opposed to hand mixed, offers a far superior result because the product is thoroughly crushed and combined, and the color is consistent across the manufacturer’s line of products. Expert use of technology creates the difference in quality in every step of the creation process; machine rollers provide an even texture from the pigment, chromatographers ensure color purity and emulsifiers thoroughly combine the necessary ingredients, and spectrophotometers can be used to manage quality control.

Ultra-fine and artist-grade quality paints are not for simple hobbyists. The individuals who purchase these paints are typically professional artists who will be displaying their projects in public.1 Machine-mixed oil paint is ideal for these individuals, as the results are durable, consistent and predictable. As a result, artists tend to stick to a specific brand of paint, as they know they can trust that manufacturer to offer a certain outcome. Manufacturers that wish to stay—or become—these trusted suppliers gain that trust through guaranteeing their products with spectrophotometric color measurement in order to ensure accuracy and consistency.

oil paint spectrophotometer
High-quality oil paint helps the artist create beautiful, enduring works of art. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

Color Consistency Challenges in Oil-Based Paint Production

The creation of oil paint has changed significantly since the Middle Ages when these types of paints first came into popularity.2 During that time, artists created their paints in the studio. They’d purchase base pigments at apothecaries and mix them with vegetable oil, gums, resins, and other materials needed to create a workable color, mixed from recipes passed down from generation to generation. However, mixing oil paint was a time-consuming process made even more difficult by the lack of materials available, meaning that rarely could the artist create the same color twice. Mid-nineteenth century improvements in both technology and chemistry provided mass-produced paint for artists who wanted a superior, more predictable product.

Even today, with all our technological advances, it can still be difficult to ensure a consistent color every time. There are a number of variables that will impact the result of oil paint, including:

  • Particle size: The base pigment size will influence the outcome, as colors tend to get lighter when pigment is finely ground and darker when particles are left larger.
  • Oil types: The oil base of the paint will have a direct impact on that paint’s luster, opacity, and brilliance. Many different oils are used in the production of oil paint; linseed, sunflower, and vegetable oils are just a few examples. The oil type will also affect drying time as well as the painting’s longevity.   
  • Additives:  Additives are usually the secret twist that makes a manufacturer’s formula unique. Anything from resins to waxes to additional pigment can be used to change the end color, the texture of the end color, and how long it takes for the paint to achieve its final result.
  • Mixing process:  How the paint is mixed is as important as the components themselves. Machine-mixed paint tends to be better overall than hand-mixed due to the machine’s ability to finely grind powder. It also makes for less expensive paint, as mass production offers better profit margins, even with expensive pigments. Finally, machine mixing allows for greater color variety, as many large batches can be mixed at once rather than being limited by a laborious, small-batch hand-mixing process.

By using the same ingredients, equipment and methods, manufacturers can almost guarantee the color of their paints. By integrating spectrophotometric color measurement throughout the process, manufacturers can take their oil paint’s quality to the next level while minimizing waste.

oil paint spectrophotometer
Spectrophotometers can allow for superior results in oil-based paint mixing by enabling companies to calibrate color through the creation process. Image Source: Unsplash user James Baldwin

Adding Spectrophotometers to the Oil-based Paint Mixing Process

Due to the high risk of color fluctuation in the oil paint creation process, top-level quality control is needed. Accounting for color change in this creation process is crucial to ensuring an accurate and consistent result that will meet the expectations of artists.3 As such, spectrophotometric color measurement is instrumental at various points of oil paint manufacturing, including:

  • Starting pigment: Unprocessed pigment should be tested before use to ensure it matches to prior pigments. Base pigments can vary quite a bit based on a variety of factors, so early testing is imperative to detect unwanted color differences.
  • After grinding: Grinding of the mill base, which includes pigment, a wetting agent, oil, and resin, creates a powder that greatly impacts the end color of oil paint. Measuring the color of this powder prior to mixing is an important step to ensure accurate coloration.
  • After mixing:  In order to make ground powders into functional paints, they are mixed with antifungals, antiseptic, driers, and stabilizers. During this process, the paint will be adjusted to match the manufacturers previously established colors based on ratios of mill base to additives and spectrophotometric data can be used to determine which adjustments must be made. This data can also be used to correlate color to mixing variables to catalog formulation for future use.
  • When dry: After paint is mixed, test samples should be painted on swatches and analyzed for color correctness. Using a spectrophotometer, the analyst can evaluate the color, measure the results against prior tests, and note any variances in the process.

By incorporating color quality spot checks in the oil paint production process, manufacturers can ensure ideal color results every time. This not only helps to build trust between you and the artistic community, it also allows artists the ability to realize their vision and create works that may speak to audiences for generations.

HunterLab Technology

HunterLab has been a pioneer in color measurement technology for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of portable, benchtop, and on-line spectrophotometers designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers. Our instruments are ideally suited for color analysis at every stage of the oil paint production process, giving you the highest level of color quality control. Contact us for more information about our renowned products and how we can help you improve color precision.

  1. “Manufacturing Oil Paint.” http://www.trueart.info/?page_id=50
  2. “Traditional Oil Painting: The Revival of Historical Artists’ Materials.” June 6, 2013. https://www.naturalpigments.com/art-supply-education/traditional-oil-painting-revival/
  3. “How Paint is Made. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Paint.html
Spectrophotometers Allow for Seamless Color Matching of Auto Paint After an Accident
spectrophotometer auto paint
Being able to match a vehicle color perfectly is the mark of a high-end auto body repair shop. Image Source: Unsplash user Josh Rinard

When a consumer turns to a body shop for car repairs after a crash, their goal is to get their vehicle back in the best condition possible. Ideally, they want it to look like their vehicle was never in an accident in the first place. In part, this is driven by financial considerations; after a vehicle is in an accident, its value can drop by as much as 10%.1 This diminished value can be a significant issue and a point of contention between car owners and insurers, as it limits resale options for a vehicle. Of course, even owners who want to keep their vehicle typically also want to remove any indications of damage, particularly if the car is rare, valuable, or has sentimental value. As a result, the auto shops that can return a car to its pre-accident condition are in high demand.

A significant part of the post-accident repair process is ensuring a seamless paint job without requiring the entire vehicle be repainted. For body shops, this means that paint matching must be a top priority. While you may have a good idea of the base color of the vehicle, matching that color identically virtually impossible without the use of modern technology. As such, spectrophotometers are essential to pinpoint the perfect color match.

spectrophotometer auto paint
Without proper color matching, a seamless collision repair job is not possible. Image Source: Unsplash user Ivan Sean

Challenges in Auto Paint Matching

Color matching is often the first step that a body shop undertakes when dealing with the repair of a vehicle due to the lengthy nature of the process. A car will have a base color that’s listed on its initial spec sheet, but that paint will fade over time as the result of environmental influences, which means that simply selecting the same base color will likely not generate a perfect match.2 When that’s the case, auto shops repairing a paint job have one of three options:

  • Accept a slight mismatch: If the area to be fixed is not particularly noticeable, a customer may be willing to tolerate a small mismatch in paint color. Accepting the mismatch is the least desirable option to the customer, however, as the repairs will be apparent.  
  • Repaint the entire vehicle: In cases where a mismatch would be very noticeable, the body shop may instead choose to repaint the whole vehicle. The issue here is that repainting the whole vehicle is expensive and customers—or, more likely, insurance companies—may not be willing to pay this cost.
  • Create a custom color: Creating a custom color to perfectly match the paint can be a challenge but tends to be the most cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing option for repair. However, this step can also be time-consuming, requiring extensive trial and error to ensure a precise result if relying solely on visual color assessment.

While creating a custom color is often the best alternative for repairing a vehicle’s finish, it’s also the process that has the highest potential for error. Even a slight variation between the existing finish and the new paint will be noticeable and likely unsatisfactory to the customer. To ensure a perfect repair, auto body shops should therefore employ modern spectrophotometric technologies in finding and creating the right color.

spectrophotometer auto paint
Vintage car colors can be particularly challenging to match in auto repair. Image Source: Unsplash user Robin Vet

Spectrophotometers Offer Fast, Accurate Color Matching

To minimize the need for trial and error in the color creation process, many auto repair shops use portable spectrophotometers to replace visual color assessment. These instruments are becoming standard tools in auto body shops, as they allow for rapid and accurate color readings of any vehicle, even in cases where a custom, vintage, or other challenging paint job needs to be repaired. The process for using spectrophotometric color measurement in your color matching process works as follows:

  1. Clean the panel to be matched: This is an important step, as spectrophotometers are very accurate and even small amounts of dust or dirt may affect the color data.
  2. Take multiple readings with the spectrophotometer: Numerous readings should be taken to accurately capture the color data from the vehicle and ensure a precise result.
  3. Test sample colors based on spectrophotometric results: After the user finds the exact shade of the vehicle, they can create a new color and use the spectrophotometer to test that color against the vehicle color to ensure a perfect match. This allows for a significantly higher degree of accuracy than visual assessment alone.

A portable spectrophotometer offers a body shop the ability to provide tech-forward, aesthetically pleasing repairs even in cases where the exact shade is no longer commercially available. It allows a body shop to essentially return a vehicle to pre-accident condition, which is exactly what consumers and insurance companies are looking for when they choose an auto body shop. As such, a shop that can provide perfect color matching via spectrophotometric analysis, is a valuable resources for customers, helping them restore their vehicles to their original state.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab has been a leader in spectrophotometric color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we produce a comprehensive line-up of spectrophotometers ideally suited to the varied needs of our customers. Our product range includes state-of-the-art dual beam portable instruments ideal for paint matching in the auto body industry, drawing on decades of experience to provide accurate results time after time. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments and let us help you take your shop’s paint matching capabilities to the next level.

  1. “How to Make a Diminished Value Claim. https://www.carinsurance.com/Articles/diminished-value-claim.aspx
  2. “Automobile Paint Matching”, December 9, 2017, https://autoprocollisionaz.com/2017/12/09/automobile-paint-matching/
Spectrophotometric Testing of Site-Mixed Cement Color Ensures Accuracy and Predictability
site-mixed cement
Today, cement offers extraordinary possibilities for modern, beautiful, and durable designs. Image Source: Unsplash user Todd Quackenbush

Construction contractors often choose to mix cement on-site as it allows them to gain a better end result for a lower overall cost. However, this can pose significant challenges for manufacturers of such mixes, particularly when it comes to color. A cement that measured well on the plant floor may not look the same once it’s dried in a real-world environment; the color may appear faded, powdery or patchy, resulting in an overall unpleasant aesthetic even when mixed correctly. Testing the end product in a real-world environment with a robust quality assurance process is therefore necessary to ensure that you’re able to guarantee an accurate long-term finish of your product. Spectrophotometric instrumentation is a critical part of this quality assurance process, allowing manufacturers to offer high-grade cement with accurate directions and predictable results for those who choose to mix on-site.

site-mixed cement
Site-mixed cement has numerous advantages of premixed and precast alternatives, but also comes with unique challenges. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

Challenges in On-Site Mixing

Today, premixed and precast concrete is increasingly popular within the construction industry, eliminating potentially time-consuming and laborious on-site steps. However, on-site cement mixing has unique benefits that cannot yet be replicated by premixed and precast products. These include:

  • Scalability: With the right formula, workers can create as much, or as little, cement as they need with limited waste.
  • Strength: Fresh concrete dries stronger than concrete that’s been mixed offsite.
  • Cost: Some construction companies pay for the convenience of pre-mixed, but those who choose to mix on-site save money as the mixes they buy are typically cheaper.

Higher quality, cost-efficient cement is something that major construction companies are always going to take advantage of. As a result, manufacturers need to ensure their product travels and settles well over time for optimum on-site mixing.

Desirability, predictability, and durability of color are some of the most important qualities construction companies, designers, and architects week when selecting cement products. As such, cement manufacturers must implement thorough color quality control protocols not only at the point of manufacture, but in simulated real-world conditions. This includes testing for color accuracy, consistency, and longevity, allowing you to identify unwanted color behavior before a product is released into the marketplace.1. Manufacturers can use their own in-house testing environments for this, or they can offer this testing as a final step in the cement supply process.

site-mixed cement
Spectrophotometric color measurement can help you monitor consistency of your mix, ensuring your final product looks and performs the way you want. Image Source: Pexels user Life of Pix

Spectrophotometric Color Measurement Can Eliminate Common Cement Problems

Cement is increasingly renowned for its versatile color options, opening up the door to both innovative new designs and tried and true aesthetics. However, the color of cement drastically changes as it dries, presenting unique challenges for cement manufacturers; unless manufacturers test the end color of a specific mix, they have no way of guaranteeing the final appearance of their product. This is a major concern, as incorrect cement color can create an unappealing end result at odds with a designer’s vision and be both difficult and costly to fix.

Color inaccuracies in cement can result from a variety of factors, including incorrect dry mix ratios and incorrect bonding of pigment, which may only become apparent once cement is mixed.2 Spectrophotometric field testing of site-mixed cement allows for identification of these issues and gives manufacturers the opportunity to take corrective action to ensure proper color behavior. By taking multiple readings of your sample, you can determine color accuracy both within and between batches, identify unwanted color variation, and obtain the data necessary to create appropriate directions for use. You may also use artificial aging environments to observe color behavior over time in order to tailor formulations for optimal color durability.

Portable spectrophotometers, such as those in HunterLab’s MiniScan EZ series, are ideal instruments for field testing of concrete, allowing you to easily capture color data in virtually any environment. With dual beam technology and user-friendly, one-touch designs, the MiniScan EZ is an indispensable part of the color quality control process for cement manufacturers around the world.

HunterLab Versatility

Cement is a versatile material that requires technologically advanced equipment to ensure the highest level of quality control. HunterLab’s renowned spectrophotometers allow for analysis in both the lab and in the field to ensure color accuracy and consistency while giving you the information you need to perfect formulations and processes  Contact us to learn more about our innovative technologies and let us help you select the perfect tools for your needs.

  1. “Visual Inspection of Concrete”,  https://www.nachi.org/visual-inspection-concrete.htm
  2. “Understanding Colored Concrete”,  https://www.concretenetwork.com/chris_sullivan/colored_concrete.htm
Using Spectrophotometers To Develop Multifaceted Colors in Duochrome Cosmetics
duochrome cosmetics
Duochrome cosmetics are helping consumers create dramatic new looks. Image Source: Unsplash user Bernard Osei

Duochrome may sound like something one would find in the automotive industry, but in recent years, it’s made its way into makeup bags around the world. Duochrome refers to a type of color changing makeup that doesn’t actually change color. Instead, its appearance changes based on the angle that it’s viewed. It’s a dramatic look that’s made its way onto many runways through the years. However, the creation of this makeup is a complex process and its ability to interact with light is key; creating colors that appear to change based on how they’re viewed requires developing a precise, exacting formula.

There’s a lot of room for error in creating these cosmetics, as development hinges on interference pigments. These pigments “interfere” with an existing color and if used incorrectly, the end result could be lackluster. As such, base color is the key to establishing a cosmetic that uses interference pigments to their full advantage. By using spectrophotometric color measurement, cosmetics manufacturers can develop a base color that works perfectly with interference pigments and move that color into mass production.

duochrome cosmetics
Interference pigments allow for the creation of dynamic cosmetics that appear to change based on angle. Image Source: Unsplash user Raphael Lovaski

Creating Multifaceted Colors With Interference Pigments

Duochrome makeup makes use of two distinct colors to create a changeable look. There’s the base color, which is the color that is seen all the time. Then, there’s the interference pigment, which might only be viewed from certain angles. Interference pigments have been in use in cosmetics since the 1970s to add new facets to an existing color providing a shimmer, color change or pearlescent appearance.1   Some of the more common interference pigments added to cosmetics include:2

  • Mica powder: Mica is commonly used as an interference pigment in some cosmetics due to its wide availability and relatively low cost when compared to other interference pigments.
  • Aluminum oxide: Otherwise known as Alumina, this interference pigment has a crystalline structure that lends itself to a wide variety of effects in cosmetics.
  • Silica flakes: Silica flakes are commonly used in conjunction with titanium dioxide to create a color shifting appearance. While many other products shift in shades of white, this type of mineral can be used to shift in warmer shades, like adding a bit of red to blue or some of peach to yellow.
  • Titanium/Iron dioxide: These two minerals don’t usually create a color effect themselves. Instead, they act as the carrier for effect colors, due to their excellent coverage and thickening abilities.  They can also be used as whitening agents.3

These are just a few of the interference pigments, as there are virtually millions of minerals that can be used to add depth to certain cosmetics and combinations of these minerals can drastically change the end result of makeup.

In some cases, however, that end result could be unappealing. Consider an instance where a company decides to add a titanium oxide-based interference pigment to a light pink lipstick. The interference pigment could overtake the color, resulting in an end result that’s simply white. As such, interference pigments need to be used in combination with a well-chosen base color to ensure they don’t overpower that base color.

duochrome cosmetics
Spectrophotometers are critical for perfecting duochrome cosmetic formulations. Image Source: Unsplash user Element5 Digital

Using Spectrophotometers In Duochrome Cosmetic Creation

When creating a duochrome color, manufacturers want two colors to be represented, if not more. This can be a challenge, as overpowering the base may result in a situation where it disappears entirely. To create two separate, distinct color appearances based on angles, a very specific color discovery process must be followed. Of particular importance is using spectrophotometric technology to establish a suitable base. Using a spectrophotometer, you can establish a base color with the right shade and level of opacity necessary to successfully interact with your chosen interference pigments. Through objective color measurement, you can closely analyze base behavior and establish an ideal formulation.

Spectrophotometers minimize the need to continuously experiment with various color combinations as well as various cosmetic textures, as it allows a company to establish a perfect base quickly. This is critical in duochrome makeup, as the interference pigments used in this makeup can be costly and even scarce. By minimizing the time necessary to discover the perfect base color, you are able to enhance the efficiency of the formulation process and eliminate unnecessary material waste. Once a product is in full-scale production, spectrophotometers can be used to continuously monitor color within the production line to ensure that every batch is correctly formulated.

HunterLab Innovation

HunterLab has been at the forefront of color measurement technology for over 60 years. Today, we offer a comprehensive line up of portable, benchtop, and on-line spectrophotometers ideally suited to the needs of the cosmetics industry. By combining state-of-the-art technologies with use-friendly design, our instruments offer the highest degree of accuracy and precision. Contact us to learn more about how our renowned spectrophotometers and customizable color measurement software packages can improve your color creation process.

  1. “Color-Travel Cosmetic Pigments: Interference To The Max” June 19, 2009. http://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/formulating/function/pigment/2702996.html
  2. “Special Effect Pigments in Cosmetic Applications”, http://www.teknoscienze.com/Contents/Riviste/PDF/ColourCosmetics_HPC1_2012_rivista_14-17.pdf;
  3. “Titanium Dioxide”, http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/titanium-dioxide-2/
Using Spectrophotometers to Eliminate Variations in Right-First-Time Yarn Manufacturing
right-first-time yarn
A renewed interest in knitting has ushered in an increase in demand for yarn. Image Source: Shutterstock user Studio ART

Knitting, once imagined to be a pastime solely for older generations, is undergoing something of a renaissance. Driven by YouTube, Etsy, and lifestyle bloggers, young people are increasingly learning how to knit, creating everything from sweaters to activist art projects to wooly simulacra of biological structures. But while online environments may have helped spur the proliferation of knitting,  Juliet Bernard, editor of The Knitter magazine, believes its popularity is growing in part as a backlash against digital environments. “With so many of us working in the service, management, digital, and creative industries, we don’t actually ‘make’ anything,” she says. “The pride in being able to stand back and admire something that we have physically produced is incredibly satisfying.”1 Rosy Greenlees, executive director of Crafts Council, agrees. “People want to connect to the real, physical world, with each other, and with the world around them, and picking up something as simple as a couple of needles and a ball of yarn can help do that.”

The renewed appeal of knitting is also driving a growing interest in and demand for yarn itself, as increasingly savvy knitters seek to realize their vision. This creates a challenge for dye houses, as packaged yarn dyeing has a wide margin of error when it comes to color variation, and maintaining a consistent color is often such a trial that yarns must be separated in dye lots to account for inconsistencies in color from one yarn batch to the next. Dye lots present a number of problems for both manufacturers and retailers and many have sought out ways to eliminate the need for them in textile manufacturing. But while certain acrylic yarns have been developed to not require dye lots, the higher cost, natural yarns popular with today’s knitters have yet to see an alternative.

Melih Günay, an expert in textile engineering, believes that the resolution to consistency issues is technology. “Quick response, just-in-time, and right-first-time dyeing can only be achieved by a basic in-house dye house laboratory,” she explains.2 Modern color measurement technologies, specifically spectrophotometers, must be an integral part of this laboratory in order to overcome common barriers to color consistency and create a wider selection of no dye lot yarns in a variety of materials.

right-first-time yarn
The process of dyeing yarn can result in batch-to-batch color variations. Image Source: Shutterstock user YANNA2560

Right-First-Time (RFT) Dyeing Concepts in Yarn Manufacturing

In any manufacturing process, Six Sigma concepts can be applied to make production more effective while minimizing waste. The right-first-time (RFT) philosophy goes hand-in-hand with Six Sigma, as its end goal is to ensure a company only has to dye an item once. In the past, a dye house may have started with a lighter shade and then dyed the item several more times, resulting in heavy variances based on batch. Using an RFT method, in which the correct color is targeted in the first dyeing process, reduces expenses and improves consistency in the result.

According to Dr. Anupama Prashar’s Six Sigma-based study of the textile manufacturing process, the most significant point of vulnerability lies in the matching of shades.3 Dr. Prashar also found that errors in color matching have three primary root causes:

  • Yarn dye-ability: Materials, especially natural ones like cotton, can be distinctly different at a structural level, meaning how well they will absorb and hold dye will vary even for items within the same batch.
  • Water quality: Water quality can vary for a number of reasons, including climate and age of the pipes. This impacts the pH value of the water, which can have an adverse chemical reaction with the dye.
  • Dye batch inconsistency:  Even when dyeing yarns of a similar structure using similar dyeing conditions, batch-to-batch fluctuations may occur. In the yarn manufacturing industry, this is not corrected but instead, it marked on the package, so the end user is able to buy products from the same dye lots to ensure color consistency.

When these three areas were targeted, RFT results increased by 4%. While 4% may seem low, when one considers the time and cost of re-dyeing 4% of a batch of 1000 pounds of yarn, that 4% can represent tens of thousands of dollars. As a result, any increase in RFT production represents significant cost and time savings.

However, even with strict quality control, one area that’s challenged manufacturers of packaged yarn is the dye lot. Now, some manufacturers have been able to minimize or eliminate the need for dye lots in acrylic yarn using state-of-the-art spectrophotometric technology to improve RFT processes.

right-first-time yarn
With more checks in the production process, inconsistencies from batch to batch can be reduced — or eliminated. Image Source: Shutterstock user bouybin

Creating Consistency in Colored Yarn Lots Using Spectrophotometers

A spectrophotometer can serve as a key part of RFT dyeing, as it allows the manufacturer to establish the target shade formulation and monitor that shade during the dyeing to ensure it doesn’t deviate from the standard. By creating a target shade for various stages of production during the initial color creation process and measuring against that target during manufacturing, unwanted color variations can be rapidly detected and corrective action taken.  For example, spectrophotometric analysis can be used to test the initial strength of dye from the supplier to allow manufacturers to correct for any strength differentials by batch. It can also be used on the line to monitor yarn as it’s being dyed, helping operators to identify and eliminate variations in the process that may cause color changes, such as high pH levels in water or increases and decreases in temperature. Finally, spectrophotometers can be used to test the end color to ensure dye lots can be largely grouped and remain consistent.

Both benchtop and portable spectrophotometer may be used to measure acrylic yarn before it moves into the spinning process. However, this is not something that works as well for other fabrics, such as wool and cotton, which are easier to dye after they’ve been spun. For monitoring color in these more complex materials, an on-line spectrophotometer may be a better option to consistently measure color through the dyeing process. While variations should still be expected—and the yarn may still require a dye lot—they can be significantly reduced with the constant monitoring afforded by modern spectrophotometric technology.

HunterLab Quality

HunterLab’s innovative range of color measurement tools includes portable, benchtop, and on-line spectrophotometers, giving yarn manufacturers the ability to monitor color at all stages of production, reduce errors, and improve RFT results. This allows manufacturers to create more consistent, larger dye lots or potentially eliminate them entirely. Contact us to learn more about how our state-of-the-art technologies can become a major part of your RFT process, helping you optimize quality and efficiency.

  1. “Pride in the Wool: The Rise of Knitting”, July 6, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/jul/06/wool-rise-knitting
  2. “The Future of Dye House Quality Control with the Introduction of Right-First Dyeing Technologies”, https://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/25009.pdf
  3. “Right-First-Time Dyeing in Textile Using Six Sigma Method”, https://www.ijser.org/researchpaper/Right-First-Time-dyeing-in-Textile-using-Six-Sigma-methods.pdf
The Benefits of Portable Spectrophotometers for Eliminating Production Line Waste
production line waste
Production uniformity is necessary for everything from low-cost products to high-end items. Image Source: Shutterstock user Dukesn

The key to eliminating mistakes in any process is eliminating unnecessary steps in the process. This is one of the principles of Kaizen business practices, one of the cornerstones of the Six Sigma approach to manufacturing.1 Designed to create uniformity that reduces the potential for errors or defects in end products, Six Sigma is often considered the gold standard for process improvement. While not every business chooses to follow Six Sigma’s  process improvement standards, elements of its innovative approach can be adopted to reduce problems—and, ultimately, waste—in any process.

In any form of manufacturing, products need to adhere to established standards to be viable, and often, color is a critical part of that standard. A company that makes red card stock, for example, wants every card in a package to be the exact same shade of red. Even the slightest variation in color would be clearly noticeable and compromise the appeal of the product. As such, paper manufacturers use advanced color measurement instruments to create color standards and ensure batch-to-batch consistency. Often, the instruments they rely on are benchtop spectrophotometers.

Dr. Shigeo Shingo, who helped create the Kaizen method that streamlined Toyota’s production process in the 1950s, once stated, “The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”2 One area of waste reduction many companies miss is the waste created when relying solely on benchtop spectrophotometers for color quality control. In many cases, the time it takes to collect samples, bring them to the lab, and prepare the samples for analysis can be better spent elsewhere. Unfortunately, many companies fail to recognize this process as waste due to the essential role of color measurement. However, using technology to eliminate exclusive reliance on benchtop instrumentation could pay dividends in productivity. By adding portable spectrophotometer instruments to your color quality control process, you can minimize waste, improve the efficiency of color measurement, and enhance overall product quality.

production line waste
Portable spectrophotometers can be an essential part of color quality control, whether in addition to or in place of benchtop instrumentation. Image Source: Shutterstock user Visual Generation

Portable Spectrophotometers Minimize Waste

Recreating a specific color is a necessity that transcends industries. Its purpose is both aesthetic and functional, as seen in the pharmaceutical industry where color plays a significant role in how consumers perceive and use medications. It’s also a potential failure point, as even minor adjustments to the production process can have a significant impact on how products are perceived and used. As such, spectrophotometric color measurement at critical points of product development, production, and post-production is essential to ensuring that each product looks the way you want it to. These may include:

  • QC spot checks/production line testing: Quality control spot checks are completed by analyzing samples taken at various points in the production process both when issues are identified or as a proactive measure, based on the manufacturer’s protocols.
  • On-site testing: On-site testing is often done to measure when certain sensitive supplies, such as produce, must be measured and color may be altered during transportation to a lab. In addition, items that must be produced on-site, such as site-mixed cement, need to be measured for color accuracy and can’t reasonably be transported to a lab.  
  • Storage checks: When a company chooses to produce buffer stock for future orders, stored items may need to be checked periodically to verify continued viability. Color measurement can be a critical component of this process, particularly for products that have high potential for color change, such as paper goods.  

When looked at from a continuous process improvement perspective, all these steps have the potential for waste. However, QC spot checks and production line testing that rely solely on benchtop instrumentation are of particular concern. In these cases, samples must be collected from the production line, transported to the lab, and analyzed, which can be a time-consuming and laborious process that disrupts manufacturing efficiency. Meanwhile, workers must decide whether to shut down the line during testing or leave it running—and either choice is a gamble. Shut down while testing could prevent replicating the error but may waste time. Conversely, leaving the line running could cause waste of labor and materials if testing reveals unwanted color variation that has affected subsequently produced products.

The solution to this problem is not to measure the risk and reward of each action, but instead, to find an underlying solution to the overall problem. In this case, the problem is the time and labor necessary for lab testing and its implications for such testing on the production line. The solution, then, is to eliminate unnecessary lab testing.

For many manufacturers, portable spectrophotometers offer an attractive alternative to lab-based QC spot checks and production line testing. By minimizing—or even eliminating—reliance on benchtop instrumentation, portable spectrophotometers limit waste in the production process, improving overall efficiency. Additionally, portable spectrophotometers can be used in virtually any environment, making them suitable for not only analysis within the factory, but also giving you the ability to obtain accurate color information in storage environments and in the field. This extraordinary flexibility makes them an invaluable addition to color quality control strategies, whether used alone or in concert with other spectrophotometric instruments.

production line waste
Color uniformity in any manufacturing system requires a uniform process. Image Source: Shutterstock user VOLYK IEVGENII

Integrating Dual Beam Technology in Portable Instruments

When choosing a portable spectrophotometer in your color quality control process, it is important to remember that not all spectrophotometers are the same and optimizing efficacy depends on selecting the right instrument. Most spectrophotometers are designed with single beam technology, which requires time-consuming and frequent standardization. This is not only is this highly inefficient, it also makes the color measurement process highly vulnerable to human error, increasing risk for further waste. These shortcomings led to the development of dual beam spectrophotometers,  which are capable of comparing the light paths of two beams without the need for an initial test sample. Because these spectrophotometers take the test and reference samples into account simultaneously, they are not only more accurate and less vulnerable to human error, they also eliminate both known and potential waste.

In the past, there were both economic and practical barriers to integrating dual beam technology in portable spectrophotometers, as the complexity of dual beam mechanisms meant increased potential for failure, higher servicing costs, and large footprints. In recent years, however, HunterLab has spearheaded the development of portable dual beam spectrophotometers, becoming one of the few companies to offer these instruments. Today, our MiniScan EZ line gives users the ability to accurately, precisely, and easily capture color data in virtually any environment, allowing many manufacturers to decrease reliance on benchtop instruments and implement more robust color quality control systems.

HunterLab Innovation

The goal of any Kaizen-based process improvement initiative is to create a systematic production method which simplifies the steps taken in any process. Limiting steps also limits the potential for error. In the case of color measurement, using advanced portable spectrophotometers can remove the lab analysis step, offering a more streamlined QA method. HunterLab’s innovative portable instruments harness the power of dual beam technology to offer a fast and easy way to check color accuracy while eliminating unnecessary lab testing. However, portable instrumentation does not have to work alone; rather, it can complement benchtop and on-line instrumentation to create more comprehensive and efficient quality control processes. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

  1. “Kaizen: Eliminate Waste and Improve Your Project”, February 14, 2017, https://www.6sigma.us/six-sigma-articles/kaizen-eliminate-waste/
  2. “Dr. Shigeo Shingo”,  http://www.process-improvement-japan.com/shigeo-shingo.html
Using Spectrophotometers in the Development of Microblading Inks
microblading inks
Microblading gives thin brows more definition. Image Source: Unsplash user Soroush Karimi

Avid tweezing was once all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s. Today, however, fuller eyebrows have come back into style and given birth to a new trend; microblading. Whether it’s aging, long-term hair removal. or simple genetics, some now find their brow line isn’t as defined as they’d like. Microblading is a cosmetic procedure designed to fix that by offering a realistic—and uniquely artistic—way to recreate the appearance of eyebrows using tattoo inks.  

One of the most important parts of the microblading process is, of course, color.  To ensure the end result is as natural as possible, ink manufacturers have to recreate a rainbow of natural hair colors for a wide variety of clients. Natural colors can be the most difficult to develop, particularly in high-risk tattooing inks. These are long-term products and mistakes will matter. If the color goes on too light or too dark, the results may be unappealing or fade too quickly.  Spectrophotometers can be used in the recreation of natural hair colors to ensure an optimal result through better, more accurate formulas.  

microblading inks
Microblading lasts 1-3 years, eliminating the need to fill in brows every day. Image Source: Unsplash user The Digital Marketing Collaboration

How Microblading Works and Its Risks

Microblading is quickly becoming one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States. According to a study of professionals completed by the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, 100% of industry respondents offer the service and reported it’s the one in highest demand from new clients.1

During the procedure, the technician starts by outlining the brows in non-permanent makeup, to determine the shape.  Then they fill them in with the permanent ink using an extremely small caliber blade. Overall, it takes about 2 hours, has few side effects and, for most, it’s an entirely painless procedure. The client walks away with natural appearing brows that, while not strictly permanent, will last anywhere from 1 to 3 years.

A key part of getting this process right is in the ink the technician uses. While the FDA doesn’t specifically regulate these inks, they do offer some guidelines on their use and note the following concerns have been reported:2

  • Adverse reactions: Many pigments used in this type of tattooing are plant-based, though metals like iron oxide, cobalt, and even mercury have been used. As these are not compounds that naturally occur in the human body, the potential for an allergic reaction is present. As a result, companies tend to build on pigments that have been proven to have low adverse reaction rates to limit risk.
  • Microbial contamination: While the tattoo ink is never introduced into the bloodstream, there is still the potential for infection, though it is very small. If things like yeast, bacteria, mold, or other similar pathogens are present in the ink, they can cause an infection of the skin which has the potential to spread. Most ink manufacturers have very specific creation and storage protocols they follow to minimize this risk.
  • Pigment diversity: The FDA notes that more than 50 shades and pigments are used for cosmetic tattooing and that number continues to grow as the process gets more popular. This makes ensuring their safety difficult as companies work with a number of unknown variables in creating their shades.

In creating a safe, effective permanent cosmetic, companies must therefore carefully cultivate their formulas. Often, it is preferred to tweak existing recipes that are known to be successful to reduce the risk while improving the color options available to consumers. Spectrophotometers can be used in the cosmetic creation process to develop formulas that achieve a consistent, desired color that wears well over time.

microblading inks
With the right color combination, microblading results in a natural, defined appearance. Image Source: Unsplash user Haley Rivera

Using Spectrophotometers to Create Inks For Microblading

While microblading technicians typically mix the final color to provide a tailored look, the individual pigments they work with must be accurate and consistent in order to achieve their desired result. Hair color, after all, isn’t something that’s flat and static. As such, mixing a custom shade requires that technicians use several hues and tones and all of these must be exact to create the look customers want. For example, technicians should be able to clearly predict that using a brown 2 with a violet .20 will result in brown 2.20—a deep auburn.3

This is where the technician is entirely dependent on the manufacturer: if that violet .20 or brown 2 is a little bit off, it will be obvious in the result and compromise the technician’s ability to predictably mix shades. Spectrophotometers are therefore essential to ensure ink manufacturers have the objective data they need to perfect ink formulations and continuously monitor inks throughout production. Using advanced spectral technology, these instruments allow for the highest degree of color quality control to detect even minute variations in color and alert operators to out-of-spec product. As such, manufacturers can be assured that only correctly colored products are released in the marketplace.

HunterLab Versatility

HunterLab has been a pioneer in color measurement for over 60 years. Today, we offer an innovative range of portable, benchtop, and on-line spectrophotometers designed with the diverse needs of our customers in mind. For ink manufacturers, these instruments are essential for the creation and consistent production of base colors that help permanent cosmetic technicians in the microblading process. Contact us for more information about our renowned spectrophotometers, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

  1. “SCPC Industry Profile Study”, 2015, https://www.spcp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/SPCP_Vision_2015_Final.pdf
  2. “FDA: Tattoos & Permanent Makeup: Fact Sheet”, https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm108530.htm
  3. “International Color Charts for Hairdressing”, April 20, 2013, http://hair-and-makeup-artist.com/international-colour-charts-hairdressing/
Creating Precise Transitions For Color-Changing Makeup With Spectrophotometers
color-changing makeup
Color-changing makeup is becoming more complex with advances in technology. Image Source: Unsplash user Joanna Kosinska

Color-changing makeup is in the midst of a rebirth. Much like mood rings, these cosmetics change color based on who’s wearing them. Also, like the mood ring, they had their heyday in the 60s—with a brief reappearance in the 90s. Today, many makeup companies are working on more complex color-changing products, including the indie beauty brand Chaos Makeup, which unveiled its highly anticipated Color-Changing Mood Cream to rave reviews last year.1 This moisture-activated multipurpose makeup transitions all the from dark burgundy to a vibrant turquoise, bringing a bit of magic to the cosmetics industry. And big companies are releasing their own transitioning lines as well; M.A.C. recently rolled out its Hint of Color lip oils, which offer a more transition based on pH balance. 2.

These recent developments are the first whispers of a growing trend and the cosmetics industry is preparing. A key part of that preparation will be spectrophotometric testing of color transitions to calibrate complex formulations that create the most appealing and dramatic changes. Using spectrophotometric technology, we’re capable of quantifying and replicating specific colors—and using that same technology, we’re able to predict what it will look like later.  Spectrophotometers offer a chance to look deeper into the color behind the result, allowing us to create more complex transitions in color-changing makeup.

color-changing makeup
Color-changing lipstick often transitions based on Ph balance fluctuations. Image Source: Flickr CC user _Frankenstein_

The Science Behind Color-Changing Makeup

While the possibilities for color change are virtually endless, there are really only two kinds of color-changing in makeup. One is simply based on reflection, where micropigments are encapsulated in one overall color, making that color appear to change based on the angle it’s viewed despite no actual material change.3   Then, there is true color-changing makeup, in which the color transitions from one to another. There are primarily four ways this happens, though companies are always discovering new methods of transformation:

  • Thermochromic: Thermochromic color change happens as a result of exposure to a heat source, like body heat, or UV exposure.
  • Photochromic: Photochromic color change occurs due to UV light exposure, particularly sunlight.
  • Hydrochromic: In a hydrochromic color change, a material will change color based on exposure to water. How much water required varies, but some materials can be made so sensitive they change color based on simple humidity.
  • pH balance: A product can change color based on a combination of factors, shifting colors from heat and moisture combined. This is often the case with color-changing makeup that uses the body’s pH balance to adjust. As pH change can occur in any liquid material, even minor amounts of perspiration, and is impacted by heat, this makes it a combination method that works well in cosmetics.

While the process of color change can be appealing for purely aesthetic reasons, it can also have practical applications such as monitoring user safety. Consider a nail polish that transforms from pink to red when someone has had too much sun exposure—this gives color-changing makeup a wider range of uses, meaning brands will require a wider range of options for creating these colors.

color-changing makeup
Color-changing cosmetics are highly reliant on a product’s initial shade. Image Source: Unsplash user Joanna Kosinska

Using Spectrophotometers to Calibrate Color Change in Cosmetics

Color-changing makeup can be challenging to create as the colors are often highly sensitive. Additionally, a person’s body chemistry and environment will typically fluctuate throughout the day, which means products must support multiple color transitions. These changes must be both certain and attractive; cosmetic manufacturers don’t want their products to turn an unappealing shade in high heat or humidity. As such, manufacturers need to be able to predict where these colors will end up, which is highly dependent on the initial shade.

With spectrophotometric technology, cosmetics manufacturers can develop color changing shades from a precise starting point by allowing you to perfectly calibrate that initial color. Spectrophotometric instrumentation can then be used to observe color change in response to heat, light, moisture, or any combination thereof, giving you the opportunity to identify unappealing shades and isolate variables that produce unwanted hues. This allows you to tailor your formulation and manufacturing processes to attain predictable and desirable transitions. By implementing this level of product development and quality control precision, you will be able to create the best possible products to give your customers exciting and unique new ways of enjoying the possibilities of color.

HunterLab Quality

Spectrophotometers are essential to ensuring cosmetics manufacturers can keep up with the rapidly changing world of makeup color trends, including when the trend is color change itself. HunterLab’s innovative spectrophotometers are designed to meet the diverse color measurement needs of the cosmetics industry, giving you a range of user-friendly instruments and accessories that offer the highest degree of accuracy and precision regardless of sample type. Contact us to learn more about our renowned spectrophotometers and let us help you select the right tools for your needs.

  1. “This Color-Changing Makeup is Kinda Like a Mood Ring for Your Face.” June 1, 2017, https://www.bustle.com/p/this-color-changing-makeup-is-kinda-like-a-mood-ring-for-your-face-video-61606
  2. “Hey Beauty Junkies, MAC’s Color-Changing Lip-Oil Is Finally Available in the U.S.”, Feb 24. 2018, https://hypebae.com/2018/2/mac-hint-of-color-lip-oil-where-to-buy
  3. “How Does Color Changing Makeup Work?”, February 2017, http://thebeautybrains.com/2017/02/how-does-color-changing-makeup-work-episode-158/