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What Is The Difference Between Dyes & Pigment?

I have seen a lot of Textile Engineers who are confused about the difference between dyes and pigments.

There are some basic differences between dyes and pigments from which you can be clear about the main features of these two.

  1. Dyes are the material which can be applied on the fabric or yarn surface and shows color visible to they human eyes in the presence of light. Dyes can be found in liquid and solid forms. And on the other hand; Pigments are colored, white or fluorescent particulate organic and inorganic solids which usually are insoluble in water and physically, chemically unaffected by the substrates in which they are incorporated.
  2. Generally Dyes are soluble in Water. Pigments are 100% insoluble.
  3. Dyes are composed of Organic substances. Pigments are organic and inorganic materials.
  4. Dyes materials have three components; these are – Chromophor, Auxhochromo and Chromogen. Other end; pigments have two parts like Chromophore and chromogen.
  5. Dyes are selectively applied. Pigments can be applied to all fibers.
  6. The fastness properties of Dyes are good. Fastness property of Pigment is average.
  7. Dyes are widely used in Dyeing. Pigments are widely used in Printing.
  8. Dyes are comparatively expensive. Pigments are comparatively cheap.
  9. A long period is needed for dyestuff to be applied. Pigments need lower time to be applied.
  10. Dyes have direct affinity to fibers. Pigment has no affinity to fibers. Pigments need other modifier to increase affinity to textile fibers.

These are the basic difference between dyes and pigments. Do you have any idea about what the things I have missed to mention here? You can let me know by comment or contact link.

louay mansour
October 29th, 2010 at 8:26 am

it is a good subject. do you have please a process step about how to recycle the dye water / solution.


Muhammad Bin Abbas
May 30th, 2011 at 1:33 am

It helped me, Thanks a lot!

christian Liebenberg
July 22nd, 2011 at 3:41 pm

In some types of pigment the insoluble particulate matter of which the pigment consists is ionic, i.e. electrically charged either positively or negatively, so that the particulate adheres to substrates (such as fibres) with the opposite charge. Perhaps this is one way of creating an affinity to fibres as mentioned in your answer?

Another difference is that dyes can be absorbed by cell walls in organic matter whereas the insoluble particulate of pigment is much larger and cannot be absorbed by the cells, perhaps explaining the difference in permanence of dye vs pigment?

September 1st, 2011 at 8:53 am

I am trying to manufacture Airbrush Makeup Foundation and I think I got success in getting done finally.. and I started sending samples to my inquiries but 2 clients I have no pigmentation or very low pigments in my foundation…
This response made me very confused !!
Actually I used different colors to develop different shades. I don’t know about pigmentation.
Please guide me what should I do to make perfect foundation.

Your reply will be much appreciated.

Best regards,




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