Iron Oxides | chemical compounds that color our world

Iron oxides are chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen and are commonly found in nature.

Iron oxides play an important role in many biological and geological processes and are widely used by humans, such as in pigments, chemical reactions, iron ores, as well as in our blood – haemoglobin.

How do iron oxides apply to the cosmetic world?

Iron oxides are a common ingredient in cosmetics products, especially in face masks and coloured products i.e. foundations, tinted lotions, and makeup. They essentially give a product its colour and have been in use since the early 1900’s.

There are three major colour classifications:

  • The yellow Iron Oxide
  • The colcothar (red ) Iron Oxide
  • The black Iron Oxide
Iron Oxides Black

Black Iron Oxides

Iron Oxides Red

Red Iron Oxides

Iron Oxides Yellow

Yellow Iron Oxides

They are considered one of the most ideal cosmetic colorants as they are non-toxic, non-bleeding, non-irritating and moisture resistant.

Where does the cosmetic world normally source their iron oxides from?

Most iron oxides used in cosmetics are synthetic. The iron oxides used are mined from iron salt mines and then oxidized in a controlled laboratory setting where they are purified for cosmetic use. Iron oxides that are made in uncontrolled natural settings are often contaminated with heavy metals like mercury. It should be noted that often natural is not as safe as synthetic.

Iron oxides at Trulux

We have several pigment products made by Kobo Products Inc. that use iron oxides. Please see here for what we have in stock at the moment.

If you are having any trouble selecting which product is correct for you, or if you are not quite sure which of our products are appropriate for dispersions in esters, oils, water or silicon emulsifiers, feel free to ask one of our chemists here.

Information courtesy of Wikipedia (

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