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Cosmetics, the development process from fish scales to mica.


Cosmetics, the development process from fish scales to mica.

Beautiful lipstick, shiny nail polish, they all have fish scales added! Imagine slipping fish scales across your lips. This feeling can be quite disgusting. However, is there any truth in this statement?

It should be said that there are indeed some origins between cosmetics and fish scales, but the above statement is still somewhat misleading. It is basically impossible to mix fishy fish scales directly into cosmetics. However, fish scales are indeed a classic source of pearlescent materials, and they can indeed add a shiny and soft luster to cosmetics.

From fish scale extract to "pearl essence"

Hundreds of years ago, people began to try to imitate the luster of pearls with other materials. In the 17th century, people discovered that an extract from fish scales can have a pearl-like color, so they began to use this material to make artificial pearls.

Alburnus alburnus (Alburnus alburnus), its scales are one of the sources of pearlescent material for fish scales.

In contrast, this fish scale material entered cosmetics much later. In the 1920s, it first appeared in nail polish. After that, among those cosmetics that need to add luster, the fish scale "Pearl Essence" gradually found its place. It was added to lipstick, eye shadow and eyeliner products, and some creams were also added. In a nail polish advertising poster from the 1960s, we can even directly see two fish appearing in the picture. This shows that the relationship between fish scales and cosmetics is indeed not shallow.

Fish scale pearlescent material is a by-product of the fishery, but it is not so easy to produce. Only less than 1% of natural pearlescent materials can be extracted from fish scales, and the extraction steps are more complicated, so its cost is also relatively high. In different fish scales, the crystal size and composition ratio are different, so the product quality is not as stable as synthetic materials. At present, guanine is still a coloring agent that can be used in general cosmetics[1], but there are more choices of pearlescent materials, and the materials used in many cosmetics are no longer materials derived from fish scales.

More options beyond fish scales

In addition to fish scales, researchers have been searching for better quality and lower cost pearlescent materials. Now, we have more choices, and they are widely used in cosmetics and more fields.

Among them, mica pearlescent pigment is an important type of pearlescent material. Mica itself has a flake-like crystal structure, and a layer of high refractive index metal oxide transparent film (such as titanium dioxide) is wrapped on the surface of the mica flakes to make pearlescent materials with better performance. The use of different metal ions or organic dyes can also impart different colors to the pearlescent material.

Mica is easy to tear off piece by piece, and it has a special pearlescent effect.

Some synthetic organics can also act as pearlescent agents, and ethylene glycol stearate is a typical one. These ingredients can be found in many shampoos, shower gels and other products with pearlescent effects.

A pearlescent shower gel containing ethylene glycol distearate.

Fish scale extract does not sound like a romantic and beautiful ingredient. Its function is gradually being replaced by more artificial pearlescent materials. However, it does add luster to many cosmetics. When you see pearlescent color cosmetics and daily necessities, don't forget the contribution that fish scales have made to the development history of pearlescent pigments.






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