Distinguish Real vs. Bogus Ingredient Safety

Mineral Makeup vs. Makeup Containing Minerals

Unfortunately, not all mineral makeup is “pure mineral makeup” - in fact, many companies include potentially harmful additives in their mineral formulations to cut costs or to improve the makeup’s performance.  Most brands of mineral-based makeup are advertised as “natural”, but this is not always the case. It is important to distinguish mineral makeup and makeup that just containes some minerals. You must read the labels and know what to look for in order to really know whether the makeup you wear is a good choice for you and the environment.

For the real-world evidence, here is the ingredient list of foundation which is claimed to be “mineral”:

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl PEG/PPG 10/1 Dimethicone, Squalane, Triethylhexanoin, Isononyl Isononanoate, Polyglyceryl 4 Isostearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG 32, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Methicone, Polymethylmethacrylate, Propylene Glycol, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Fragrance. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.

What do we see? Only the last two ingredients are true minerals, with most others being chemical substances with incomprehensible names that can hide the whole multitude of health side effects.


Ingredients to Avoid

Talc – Included in many mineral-based formulations, it is a suspected carcinogen.  Some companies use talc as a base filler to weigh down the product so the price can be marked up. According to Cancer Prevention Coalition, “Talc is closely related to the potent carcinogen asbestos. Talc particles have been shown to cause tumors in the ovaries and lungs of cancer victims. However, no ruling has ever been made and today, cosmetic grade talc remains non-regulated by the federal government. This inaction ignores a 1993 National Toxicology Program report which found that cosmetic grade talc, without any asbestos-like fibers, caused tumors in animal subjects. Clearly with or without asbestos-like fibers, cosmetic grade talcum powder is a carcinogen.”

Bismuth Oxychloride – Routinely added to mineral makeup as a texture-enhancing product, it is a skin irritant that can cause redness, itchiness, dryness, flakiness, or other symptoms of irritation. “Bismuth oxychloride can aggravate acne, resulting in flare-ups upon use, and even cause the appearance of acne cysts,” says Manhattan-based dermatologist Judith Hellman, MD. “In addition, it may be the source of rashes in patients sensitive to it, especially those with delicate and easily irritated skin, such as rosacea and eczema patients.”

Silicones (ingredients ending on ‘-siloxane’ and ‘-cone’) - are used by many manufacturers of skincare products as an occlusive emollient to create a watertight film on top of the skin and thus lock in moisture. Because the silicone sits in a layer on top of the skin keeping in moisture, it also keeps in any sebum, dirt and bacteria that may already be on the skin, and do not allow the skin to breathe much like plastic wrap would do. Once the skin is irritated, it will breakout. So, it is common to hear people say that silicones in products break them out, even the ones contained in hair conditioners. Also, prolonged use of silicones may lead to allergic reactions and may cause sensitive skin to react adversely. While silicones may not cause problems for all skin types, those with sensitive and acne prone skin are better off steering clear of such ingredients.

Synthetic Dyes and FD&C Colors – Used to create makeup shades and colors, while sounding terribly safe and official, are anything but: some contain lead acetate, a heavy metal toxic to the nervous system; coal-tar chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic and have been causally linked with cancer; others are allergens or irritants. Additionally, according to Edwin K. Joe, M.D., Department of Dermatology, New York University, “Allergic contact dermatitis to synthetic dyes is not very rare. Although the true incidence is unknown, incidence rates range from 0.05 to 15.9%”

Parabens (i.e. Methyl-, Propyl-, Butyl-, Ethyl-, Heptyl-) – Used unnecessarily as preservatives (inert minerals cannot support bacteria, thus no preservatives are needed), parabens have been found in tissue samples from human tumors. Тhe estrogenic activity of parabens may be linked to the development of breast cancer. The lead researcher of the UK study, molecular biologist Philippa Darbre, reported that the parabens found in the tumors indicate that they came from something applied to the skin, such as an underarm deodorant, cream or body spray, and stated that the results helped to explain why up to 60% of all breast tumors are found in just one-fifth of the breast - the upper-outer quadrant, nearest the underarm. In July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology, Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health reported that exposure of newborn male mammals to paraben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”

Chemical Sunscreens – used to protect the skin by absorbing the sun rays. Chemical sunscreens are often lighter and easy to apply without leaving much residue. However, because chemical sunscreens penetrate into the skin and cause a chemical reaction, there have been toxicity concerns about them such as allergies, photo-sensitivities, hormonal disruption, and increased oxidative damage and aging of the skin due to free radicals they may generate. Some of the chemicals used are: Octylcrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Homosalate, 4-MBC, Mexoryl, Tinosorb, Uvinul, OMC, Padmate O, PABA, Benzophenone-4.

Synthetic Fragrances – According to Professor Anne C. Steinemann, Environmental Engineering, University of Washington “A single "fragrance" in a product may contain up to several hundred substances, both natural and synthetic, among more than 2,600 substances documented as fragrance ingredients. We found similar chemicals among the 25 fragranced products tested in the study, and all products emitted at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous. Furthermore, eleven of the products emitted one or more probable carcinogens (acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, methylene chloride, and formaldehyde), the EPA's position on these carcinogens is that not even one molecule of exposure is safe or risk-free. Exposure to fragranced products has been associated with asthma and asthmatic exacerbations, migraine headaches, mucosal symptoms, and contact allergy.”

1,4-Dioxane - a chemical carcinogen created when  ingredients are processed with petroleum-derived ethylene  oxide, no matter it’s never listed in the ingredient list. 1,4-Dioxane is a central nervous system depressant, can cause blood disorders and cancer, reduce immunity and may be the reason of birth deformity. Common ethoxylated compounds include sodium laureth sulfate and polyethylene glycol (often listed as PEG). To avoid it, skip any product with the following ingredients: PEG,  polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxy-nol; and ingredients with endings  such as ‘-laureth’,  ‘-myreth’, ‘-oleth’, ‘-ceteareth’, (or any other ‘-eth’).

Petrochemicals derived from crude oil - Mineral Oil, Petrolatum and Paraffin. They form a barrier when  applied to the skin that does not allow it to breathe and can clog pores. Don’t be mistaken by the word ‘Mineral’ in word ‘mineral oil’, this ingredient has nothing to do with minerals.

MEA/DEA/TEA - ammonia compounds or ‘amines’ sucha as Monoethanolamine, Diethanolamine, Triethanolamine. Used to adjust the level of pH, as foaming agents, and as synthetic stabilizers. These ammonia compounds can form harmful nitrosamines when they come in  contact with nitrates and may cause allergies, eye and skin irritations and dryness of the hair and skin.

Ureas - are preservatives that have the potential to release formaldehyde in very small amounts and are a primary cause of contact dermatitis. These ingredients are known as DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea.

Sulfates (such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate) - potentially dangerous ingredients because when combined with other chemicals they form nitrosamines - the most powerful cancer causing compounds. What is more, sulfates are harsh detergents and can cause eye irritation, skin rashes  and seriouse skin’s immune system damage.


Scared? Don’t be - there is a choice.

The above list can scare anyone away,  however it is essential to be forewarned. Pure mineral makeup doesn’t contain any ingredients from the list above - and it's your choice what to wear.