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Mineral Makeup - Just Another Con?


In the last few years mineral makeup has invaded our homes in the form of infomercials declaring it to be natural and fantastic. Since then there have been some who have questioned it’s naturalness and safety. Should we trust those eternally grinning presenters, or is there any basis to the claims that we should beware? After pouring through a lot of information I have an answer.

First of all, there are no laws governing what goes into mineral make-up and no standardized definition. Secondly, the claim that all mineral makeup is natural is false. A lot of the ingredients are derived from naturally occurring substances, however these are altered in the production of the makeup and may not be safe anyway—just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you, think funnel-web spiders. I’ve picked just three ingredients as an example—remember, there are scores of ingredients that can be in these products.

  • Retinal Palmitate—the use of this is restricted in cosmetics in Canada. When palmitic acid and retinol (vitamin A) are combined, the result is Retainl Palmitate. This substance is a known human reproductive toxant and there are concerns in regards to cancer as it breaks down into free radicals when exposed to sunlight and thus may speed up the growth of skin cancer and lesions.
  • Bismuth Oxychloride—this ingredient is not toxic, however can be derived from beetles and is tested on animals. It has also been shown to cause flare-ups in those with acne, eczema or Roscrea. So those with sensitive skin may wish to avoid this one.
  • Methylparaben—a preservative that has many concerned. This substance has been shown to mimic hormones and is known as a potential hormone (endocrine) disruptor. It also is thought to be a skin irritant (great since that’s where we’re putting it).

Apart from the potentially toxic ingredients, some mineral make-up contains nano-particles. Not a lot is known about these super duper tiny particles, except that there is a risk they could be absorbed into the skin or breathed in with the potential of damaging the lungs (see this study).

When buying any makeup, check the packaging for ingredients, as we can’t always trust the marketing claims of how natural the product is. A lot of makeup, whether it’s labeled mineral or otherwise, contain harmful ingredients (read oru previous article Top 10 toxic ingredients) so try and choose makeup with organic ingredients as a start, and those that don’t contain nano-particles. We want you to stay healthy while looking beautiful.

What do you think?