Karen Rovinovitz, the founder of Purple Lab and creator of Huge Lips, Skinny Hips lip gloss, dishes on the trials and tribulations of creating your own makeup line. Read her all her Beauty bLab columns here.

This is the pink I started with, fresh in the mixer. How un-glam is that? Photo: Courtesy of Karen Robinovitz


The best part of makeup - the colors. And a beauty addict hasn't lived until she's been in a lab, watching how colors are mixed and made. It's way more than red and blue make green.

It starts with a base - almost the color of Vaseline.

Now, say you want to create a plum-berry, a new shade I'm playing with for Huge Lips Skinny Hips. It started as a pink (see left), created by a blend of red pigmented powder, following by white, followed by a drop of pearlized cream, a dash of yellow until a rich pink forms.

To get plum, you have to add black - again, a powder finer than the sand in Barbados! I know, it sounds crazy, but the black darkens the shade. When I say you have to ever so gently pour it into the batter, I do mean ever so gently. The beaker of color sits on a scale and the amount I'm talking is 0.001 g., served with a small silver handle with a tiny, baby pinkie-nail sized scooper at the end. Go a hair over, you have to make it up by adding other powder to compensate for it.

Want a glimmer of sparkle? There are powders made of real gold, real silver, real mother of pearl, all ground so softly, you could put it on a baby after changing its diaper. But the cost of these ingredients are not cheap (of course, I want the most expensive raw materials - or "raws" as they're called in the lab).

You just add and mix and add and mix until the right shade comes out.

As it gets too dark, sunshine yellow goes in. As it gets too berry, less plummy, red and pink fly in the mix. White lightens. More black rounds it out.

It is a constant trial and error process that can literally take hours, sometimes day, even, before the color is to the exact specs desired (always the case in my world - I'm sooooo discerning and particular).

The chemist keeps detailed notes in a notebook so that the shade can eventually be copied at the mass level.

It would be a perfect episode of "How It's Made" on the Discovery channel.

Mwah!
Karen
Purple Lab Creatrix