Abstract The present paper reports the chemical data obtained on samples of pigmenting materials contained in 31 miniature vessels found in a burial found in Teopancazco, a multiethnic neighborhood center located in the southeastern sector of the archaeological site of Teotihuacan (Central Mexico) and the analytical protocol established for the complete characterization of these archaeological materials. For this purpose a multi-technique approach based on the combination of several non destructive and micro-destructive instrumental techniques, namely, light microscopy (LM), scanning electron microscopy-X-ray microanalysis (SEM–EDX), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), voltammetry of microparticles (VMP), X-ray microdiffraction (μXRD), X-ray diffraction (XRD), UV–Vis spectrophotometry, FTIR spectroscopy and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) has been developed in an attempt to completely characterize these materials. These instrumental techniques provide reliable and complementary data including elemental and mineralogical composition, identification of functional groups as well as speciation studies of electroactive species. Among the most relevant findings, volcanic pyroclastic rocks and clayey soils, most probably, from the Teotihuacan valley as well as galena, jarosite and mica from other provenances in Mesoamerica, have been identified. Charcoal and Ocote resin have also been identified. The chemical composition of the samples is discussed with a view to the possible function as cosmetic materials and their use in funerary rites. The results have been critically compared with those others obtained in other ancient civilizations. The study carried out on the materials found in the burial 105 is especially relevant insofar it represents the first evidence, scientifically characterized, of the use of cosmetics in Mesoamerica at this early period (AD 200–550).