Mankind has used natural colors from the beginning of time. Rock art, ancient textiles, and art attest to the use of plants and minerals as dyes. The earliest written record of the use of natural dyes was found in China dated 2600BC. Analysis of fabrics found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt shows the presence of alizarin, a pigment extracted from madder. In Ancient India, natural colors were used for a variety of purposes. Turmeric produced vivid yellows and orange, madder violet to red, Myrobalan brown and Indigo the famous blue. In fact, Adolf von Baeyer (the scientist who also formulated aspirin) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905 for discovering the molecular structure of indigo, and developing a process to produce it synthetically. The natural dye was quickly replaced by the new synthetic, marking the beginning of the end of natural dyes.
Limited in availability, far more expensive than synthetic dyes, natural dyes lost out to the mass-produced cheaper synthetic dyes. Even natural food colors were replaced by synthetic colors. For over 75 years mankind has poisoned itself and the environment with toxic colors. Even “food” colors utilize toxic processes that damage the environment.
Finally, some sense of urgency has dawned on us humans as natural has begun its own war on our destructive path. A rush for “environmentally friendly” products is seeing the revival of natural colors for food, textiles and all possible commercial uses.
At Amsar Goa, we have been producing natural colors for over 50 years and continue to be committed to this natural environmentally friendly process. A short video demonstrates the process of making natural indigo that gives us a blue color used in our cosmetics.