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Defining Dispersion

By: Edwin B. Faulkner
Posted: March 6, 2012

There have been many articles written on pigment dispersion across various publications over the years, the vast majority of which have been very theoretical in nature, using mathematical equations accompanied by graphs and charts to reinforce a given author’s particular points of examination or contention. Unfortunately, they have also tended to be generic in nature with respect to the end use applications for which the dispersions are intended.

"Pigment Dispersion," chapter 6 of Coloring the Cosmetic World: Using Pigments in Decorative Cosmetic Formulations, will not repeat the mathematics and graphs, but rather it will concentrate on the practical aspects of making quality dispersions of pigment, focusing on the techniques and equipment commonly used in the decorative cosmetic industry. In nearly all cases, images of the equipment will accompany the discussion, in order to give the reader a method to visualize the physical process itself.

The Importance of Dispersion

Dispersion is the most important process for incorporating pigments into decorative cosmetics. Though this importance has been alluded to earlier in Coloring the Cosmetic World: Using Pigments in Decorative Cosmetic Formulations, those allusions were brief, and before we can now (finally!) begin a study of the dispersion process, it is necessary to define exactly what dispersion is—to secure a working definition of it that will see through the review to follow. But rather than one, there are two definitions that will be presented here.

The first is a descriptive definition that gets to the heart of what dispersion is all about and the second addresses the technical aspects of the process itself. A pigment, when received by a cosmetic company, is in a highly aggregated, agglomerated state that is of little color or money value.

So, addressing this issue, the first definition of dispersion is as follows: Dispersion is the process that converts a “raw” pigment into a usable form, providing the best color and money values. The second, and more technical definition, is: Dispersion is the process of wetting, separating and distributing particles in a vehicle.


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