Why are moisturizers white even though they contain dark ingredients?

Cadence has a question…Hi, why are most moisturizers and serums etc are mostly white or light colored even though they contained lots of ingredients that should tint the product? Ingredients such as CoQ10, grape seed extract, lycopene, green tea, blueberries etc., if I mix them into the moisturizer at home it would turn into mud. Does the extracting/purifying process in the lab removes the colors? I have not seen any dark products, even those that claim to contain a high level of the actives. Thanks so much!

The Beauty Brains respond:

There are two reasons why the products you asked about are white:

1. The main reason is that moisturizers are made by dispersing drops of oil in water. These droplets are so small that they scatter and reflect light. This scattering of light is what makes the product appear white. A classic example is milk which consists of tiny drops of milk fat dispersed in water.

2. The “dark” ingredients you mentioned are aren’t always dark and they are typically used at very low levels so they don’t have a significant impact on color.

  • Grape seed extract is sold as a clear liquid that has no color.
  • Green tea extract, for example, is sold as a light brown powder and as a light brown, transparent solution in propylene glycol. When added to products as a low level (usually well below 1%) the additional light brown-ness gets lost against the white background.


“Dark” ingredients that are used at higher levels (like dyes) do actually give the product color which is why you have moisturizers that are pink, green, blue, etc. (By the way, many of the extracts you mentioned are actually colorless.)