Making your palette pop with 2021’s Colour of the Year!

For the first time since launching the concept, Pantone has selected an achromatic shade for its Colour of the Year. This is also the second time in two decades that two different colours: Ultimate Grey (a neutral colour) and Illuminating (a bright, cheery yellow) have made the grade.  

The Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 is about more than just colour. It is an extension of the brand’s colour snapshot and reflects what it sees happening in the world through an expression of mood and attitude. 

Chosen by the Pantone Institute, these colours reflect what is seen by them on the runway, in homes, and graphic arts and design/business. Colour has always evoked emotion and feelings. 


Brave beauty 

The colour selection highlights the dichotomy between how difficult the past year has been, and its hope for brighter times and aspirations. As a reflection of our times, grey depicts the pandemic and yellow for renewed optimism as vaccines start rolling out, and normality beckons.    

A key characteristic of this new world is brave beauty where you let your visual senses guide you. This is the view of globally recognised makeup artists who feel that mustard yellow is the hottest colour to open the eyes, replacing last year’s softer peaches and apricot shades. The lighter your eyes, the brighter the tone and fearless beauty fans will adapt by pulling out all the stops with eye makeup this year.   

According to the Pantone Institute yellow was also chosen because it conveys feelings of happiness, hopefulness, and a bright, sunny future. Grey was chosen because it is a solid and neutral colour: One that blends well with most any colour and has a resilient and strong characteristic. These colours together, signify strength, hope, brightness, and light. 

The Pantone Colours set the tone for the consumer products industry and kickstart a trickle-down effect that can last for years. So, while not every Colour of the Year is able to dictate the aesthetic of an entire generation’s worth of businesses, it is safe to say we will likely be seeing this year’s shades — illuminating and ultimate grey — for years to come. The hue chosen as Colour of the Year has become increasingly influential in the vast world of design and brand marketing. The Pantone Colour of the Year is a colour trend forecast for the consumer, which means that it is intended to be used for consumer products and designs created for clients. 

A University of Loyola study in the US, found that colour increases brand recognition by as much as 80%. Additional research shows that colour has a significant impact on sales since people make a subconscious judgment about a product,  

within 90 seconds of initial viewing and between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone.    

Chemical supplier to the cosmetics industry, Cornelius, is perfectly positioned to assist brand owners in creating their latest effect ranges that will tie in with the Pantone Colour of the Year. 

Natural effect pigments 

Creating an ideal shade of grey is Gemtone® Moonstone G004 by BASF Colors & Effects, a mid-toned silver-grey with a shimmering finish. It is ideal for creating a softer version of the classic smoky eye make-up. 

Cornelius also offers a choice of two “true” yellow pigments – Chroma-Lite® Yellow and Timica® Terra Yellow. Chroma-Lite® Yellow Is based on Mica and Bismuth Oxychloride, which gives it a good skin adhesion, a subtle glow effect and a soft skin feel. Timica® Terra Yellow provides high colour saturation thanks to its high pigment load. It has a low lustre appearance due to its small particle size, which is coupled with a silky skin feel. The natural mica in these pigments are responsibly and ethically sourced from BASF Colors & Effects wholly owned mica mine, located Hartwell, GA, US. 

Beautiful radiance 

For the latest innovations in face and hair mask products, Cornelius’ portfolio incorporates mineral clay from Argile Du Velay, which is naturally rich in mineral and oligo-elements,  . For example CosYELLOW™ whose attributes include absorbing sebum excess and illuminating the complexion. 

Cornelius can also advise brand owners on utilising OLVEA® Silky Shea, an innovative ester based on a combination of OLVEA’s yellow Shea butter and its scientific expertise. TrueShea™, a natural and pure Shea butter, features the most advanced specificities with the highest purity and quality standards, and is an ingredient of choice for a unique experience and the preferred sustainable Silky Shea solution. 

This multi-purpose ingredient is rapidly absorbed into the skin, providing an instant moisturising effect and a radiant glow, and has considerable cosmetic properties. Silky Shea is a sensual new way to moisturise with great spreading properties. It enhances slip and improves the glide of the final product, while reducing the tackiness of heavy formulations.   

Brand owners should also consider OLVEA® Jojoba oil, described as liquid gold. This golden yellow liquid is made up of esters of saturated and mono-unsaturated, fatty acids and fatty alcohols. It penetrates the skin easily and reduces transepidermal water loss by forming a protective film. Jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is a good emollient and moisturiser for young skin types because it regulates sebum production and is non-comedogenic. 

Inspiring formulations 

In summary, Cornelius can advise brand owners on how to use these elements when formulating and how to enhance their cosmetic products per the brand owner’s requirements. 

Pantone is a leading colour authority around the world, aiming to provide insights into colours and how they can strategically affect businesses and product designs. Their identified colour trends and colour education has inspired the vision of several design businesses – and continues to do so. In essence, it is the idea that every colour affects our mood. That effect often determines or at least impacts decision-making or the way a consumer feels about a product.  

The Colour of the Year is meant to be used for marketing and product creation and enables formulators to tap into the psyche driving consumer habits, without undergoing the R&D by themselves. And here, Cornelius is perfectly positioned to enable formulators to utilise these colours in driving consumer decisions.  

Jennifer Hermitage, Market & Application Chemist.