Knowledge Base

Demystifying capsule sizes, types and colours

Capsules are a popular and useful dosage form for taking a medication or supplement that need to be swallowed. There are many different capsule variations differing in size, colour and materials often making it confusing to decide the best type for your needs.

In this article, we discuss and explain some of the common variations of capsules available and common questions people face.

Capsule sizes


Common capsule sizes range from size 3 to size 00. The bigger the number means a smaller capsule. Having trouble swallowing a particular size? No problem! Let us know and we can either make your dosage in a smaller capsule (but you may have to take more capsules) or we can suggest an alternative dosage form that works just as well.

Capsule types

There are primarily two types of capsules, being - Hard Shelled or Soft Shelled.

Hard Shelled capsules are the most common type of capsule and are used to encapsulate solid ingredients (eg. powders).

Most Hard Shelled capsules are made from Gelatin as they are most economical. For various reasons, however, Gelatin may not be suitable for everyone. At Hearts and Crosses, we use capsules made from vegetable sources (cellulose) by default.

Soft Shelled capsules on the other hand require special equipment to encapsulate liquid ingredients (eg. oils). At present, we do not have the necessary equipment to compound products encased in Soft Shelled capsules. If a liquid ingredient is required, we offer several options including choosing another dose form such as oral mixture, or in some cases the liquid ingredient may be made suitable for Hard Shelled capsules.

Capsule colours

It is common knowledge that capsules can come in a variety of colours. Coloured capsules are usually opaque and made from Gelatin. Although colouring on capsules are sometimes useful to help with capsule identification, they often contain synthetic dyes that may potentially react with active ingredients.

For this reason, we use only clear capsules by default. This way, you can see the ingredients as they occur naturally with some ingredients even offer surprising colour on their own. If you take several medications or supplements and would like to have them in different colour for easy identification, we can either add naturally occurring dyes to the ingredient blend to give them colour or alternatively produce them in a coloured capsule on your preference.

We do, however, recommend the use of opaque (and coloured) capsules in preference to clear capsules in cases where your active ingredient is very sensitive to light and can break down easily if not properly shielded.

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