You’ve Got Makeup… In Your Lungs | Ingredient Alchemy Lab #4

A Chapter of the Quest in which BEAUTYCALYPTIQUE attempts to beat the dusty answers and the nasty truth out of her Mineral Makeup.

THE PLOT THICKENS

I admit: Some time ago I used to think mineral makeup was THE safest makeup option out there. Like: THE safest. T.H.E. s.a.f.e.s.t.

And look, if chosen wisely, it contains:

  • no fillers,
  • no talc,
  • no Bismuth Oxychloride,
  • no alcohol,
  • no silicones,
  • no mineral oils,
  • no perfume,
  • no PEGs,
  • no preservatives and
  • no synthetic toxins (etc., etc.) – so what’s not to love?

It sure sounds better than a bottle of toxins. So we all sat back, relaxed and thought it’s finally Heaven…

Adventurers, are we d’accord that a product free from all the above is still trouble if it contains other questionable ingredients?

JUST THE TWO OF US

If you look at what’s in the mineral makeup jars, you will always – or on 99,99% of all labels – spot these two ingredients:
Mica and Titanium Dioxide. 

They are widely used in makeup, not just in “pure” mineral makeup:
Titanium Dioxide, a white pigment, and Mica, a mineral glimmer, – I referred to Titanium Dioxide already in this earlier post “Talc is cheap”.

Titanium Dioxide and Mica are silicate minerals (sometimes referred to as silicates, which is not correct). Silicate minerals are, as beauty brands love to describe them, natural.
It means of course: they occur naturally – as in “aren’t man-made”, aren’t synthetic. And this is not a win by itself; many toxins are, in fact, natural. But yeah, it sounds good. Natural. Natural.

But alas! Titanium Dioxide causes just as much controversy as Talc(um), especially Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles. A closer look?

NANO AIN’T THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM

German scientists discovered that nanoparticles get into the body system through the lungs and that they remain in the body.

And:

French scientists proved that TD nanoparticles could be just as toxic as asbestos (a close relative of TD, by the way), accumulating in the lungs and causing lung irritation, inflammation and, ultimately, cancer.

Now, TD is widely used as a white pigment with high coverage, for example in dyes and paint, but most scientists consider this safe.
Also TD used in sunscreen for its UV-absorbent quality is considered “okay” for healthy skin as soon as it’s not nano-particles (but we remember that sunscreen is nothing to use carelessly, don’t we?). TD found in food (declared as E171) is “probably safe” because it’s “probably” not nano-sized.

Isn’t that too much probability for your taste?

The thing is that in cosmetics, both “normal” and nano-sized TD particles can be used. Even the Wikipedia article on TD, and I consider Wikipedia a rather reliable status quo for general information level, points that nanoparticles of the otherwise non-toxic TD cause autoimmune reactions in the lungs.

Just for the record:
While Codecheck.info says TD is pretty safe (green light!), EWG’s Cosmetics Database says “moderate cancer hazard if inhaled”.

A good conclusion is given in this article I found on the organic makeup company website, it sums up all of the TD research saying that fine and coarse TD particles are considered safe while nanoparticles are considered toxic.

That’s cool, but how am I to know what’s in my jars of mineral makeup? 

ALL THAT GLITTERS: MICA

Mica, the mineral glimmer (a sheet silicate) largely used in cosmetics, has been reported for harming the respiratory organs when inhaled – causing irritations and possibly inflammations.

In addition, EWG says it could or could not be bioaccumulative and yet Codecheck gives it a thumbs up claiming it’s anti-inflammatory.
Are you confused yet? Good. So am I.

Can anybody definitely tell me, once and for all – is it safe in cosmetics or not!?

TITANIUM DIOXIDE CONCLUSION

People have been blogging and talking about it since a couple of years. Look, here are just two absolutely randomly picked 2010 articles I found on Modern Mom and Doctor Oz. So what’s the bottom line of that all – today?

I didn’t want to do research on all mineral brands out there that I don’t use anyway – the reason I picked my favourites is I found by research and comparison which seemed the purest. And so I went to the websites of my favourite brands – Alima Pure, Everyday Minerals, Lily Lolo and Inika – and had a look.

Alima Pure, the US-based mineral makeup pioneer, states in their FAQ that they don’t use nanoparticle TD:

Do your products contain nano-particles?
Absolutely not.”

Good news, check.

My favourite UK-based mineral makeup brand Lily Lolo, too, includes their customers growing concerns into their FAQ:

Do you use any nano or micronized particles?
None of the particles are small enough to be classed as micronized or nano-particles.

What is the minimum particle size?
Titanium and Zinc oxide are uncoated and have a minimum particle size of 10 microns

FYI: 10 microns qualifies as “coarse”. Nano is less than 0.1 microns.

Good news, check.

Another beloved brand, Inika from Australia (we tour the world here, huh?) chimes in:

There are two kinds of Titanium Dioxide used in cosmetic products. There is concern about the nano-sized particles of Titanium Dioxide, but INIKA DOES NOT use these in our products. INIKA (…) is extremely confident about the safety of the non-nano sized titanium that we use – which has had no adverse health effects reported. INIKA’s Titanium Dioxide is considered fine with the particles being between 1 and 2 microns.

Fair enough, check.

I couldn’t spot anything about the size of TD used in their makeup on the website of Everyday Minerals, but the online shop where I got my EM products at said EM doesn’t use nano-particles. But since I can’t find this statement in the online shop anymore, I think I’ll just shoot EM’s customer service an email and ask. UPDATE TO FOLLOW!

UPDATE: The customer service have replied!

We do not use micronized or nano-particles. Our products are actually vegan based, free of nanotechnology, carmine, dimethicone, fragrance, animal by products, bismuth oxychloride, silicone and lake dyes.”

It seems that I can keep using most of my faves. Which is a relief indeed.

But wait. There was another ingredient, too?

“OCCUPATIONAL GUIDELINES”

The Mica thing still bothers me.

I understand that occupational guidelines apply for people who work in mining.

I understand, too, that the workers who inhaled mica dust every day during 8 hour shifts for over a decade show physical signs of exposure: 5 of 6 have pneumoconiosis. Says this guideline paper (link opens a PDF file), you can google it.

I understand that even a makeup artist – the person with most exposure to mica dust after a mine worker – is probably more at risk when s/he goes for a quick cigarette between takes than whn inhaling mica dust from all that powders, glitters, eye shadows and so on.

So what’s the trouble with Mica anyway, you’ll ask.

It is, as mentioned above, a sheet silicate.
Both in its dry ground and sheet state Mica does have very useful properties. It’s chemically inert, flexible, reflective, lightweight, stable when exposed to humidity, light, heat, electricity. Wet ground Mica is pearlescent – it’s for this quality you find it in cosmetics, car lacquer, shimmery plastic, even in air balloons and much more.
Roundabout totes adorbs.

You still with me and still wondering what’s the matter? Good.

Wet grounding means that rather than being transformed into a non-shimmery, powdery mess as it’s used for filling purposes and such, Mica dust preserves what is called cleavage faces. Sounds sexy? The other cleavage, dude.

So the mineral breaks into thinnest flakes which are then wet ground finer and finer but – guess what! – remain flakes. And flakes have edges. So they shimmer. But what do fine edges do, as well? They cut.

When Mica dust is breathed in, what its tiny flakes do is scarring the lungs. There is no valid data on “safe” amounts of Mica in dry-texture-cosmetics such as eye shadow, rouge, mineral makeup or powder.

So what’s the bottom line?

mineral-makeup-caution

The bottom line is… that I don’t have an answer. But for now, this is going to be my beauty routine until I know better:

  1. Not panic.
  2. Only use products with NOT nano-sized TD particles (Alima, Inika, Lily Lolo for example)
  3. Produce as little dust as possible while working the powder on my face
  4. Wipe the powder from the vanity/bathroom shelf after application
  5. Or use liquid makeup. Since I haven’t found THE GREAT liquid foundation yet, I’ll use my mineral makeup and a moisturiser to create a custom liquid foundation. It’s a good plan, because you can control the coverage from “just a healthy even-out” to camouflage. But this is also the trickiest part of the plan because I, well, how do I put it… erm, stopped using my moisturiser… (“YOU DID WHAT!?” – it’s a Quest, don’t worry)
  6. ???
  7. PROFIT!

I’m ever so sorry, forget the last two. It’s a silly Internet South Park joke 😉

As usual, do share if you find THE perfect foundation, powder or liquid, and share your doubts, remarks, questions in the comments!

Or maybe check the product you use on a daily basis with EWG’s Cosmetics Database (US) and/or Codecheck (Europe).

111 responses to “You’ve Got Makeup… In Your Lungs | Ingredient Alchemy Lab #4

  1. Has anyone looked into Earth’s Beauty make-up? It’s made from arrowroot powder, finely sifted. It’s one that I use a lot, but I go elsewhere for eye shadow because of color choices. I just ordered some make up with mica. My husband, who is a self-taught chemist, says that the aluminum in mica cannot be separated from the silica and/or other items without using a chemical process, and so because the aluminum is bound up with the silica or other items, the body cannot break it down into the toxic metal aluminum. So the problem with mica is not that it is bound with aluminum. Have myself only learned of the toxicity of titanium dioxide — I’ve long avoided both micro and nano titanium dioxide — but some nutritionalists claim that it is a brain-toxin even if not nano-sized. I don’t know about this, myself, but I’ve decided to avoid it and it’s a shame because my favorite eye shadows contain titanium dioxide. Thanks for your info.

    • Hi Kay, thank you for your thoughtful comment! In fact, titanium dioxide has been just proven extremely toxic in toothpaste. With mica, it’s also about how ethically was it mined. Child labour reports keep hitting the headlines year in, year out.

  2. The problem I have with mica is that if you try to figure out what it actually is….you can find that mica is….a grouping or sheets of silica, aluminum and oxygen, or mica is also written as “a type of aluminum silicate”..
    So basically, everyone thinks breathing the silica is the issue- but how much aluminum is in the product and or getting absorbed?
    Pretty clear that aluminum is a neurotoxin these days in the research….so this issue frightens me.
    Can’t believe I used Bare minerals for like 10 years before I found out more about mica. All that time I scrupulously avoided aluminum in my care products.

    • Deb, good for you to avoid aluminium. Definitely an ingredient we don’t want in our system. But the mica-aluminium link is something I haven’t even researched. In my understanding, mica is a name for different silicates, and the silicates are based on silicon (the mineral) and have nothing to do with Aluminium chlorohydrate and similar unwanted ingredients, at least as far as I know. I will ask a chemist to prove me right or wrong though!
      Still, breathing in silica is definitely absolutely unhealthy for all the good reasons we know; it’s an occupational hazard for people working in mining/ sandblasting etc. and I don’t feel good breathing in the dust when applying my make-up either, as discussed in this post.

      However, there is one more vital reason to avoid at least some products with mica – and it’s the ethical reason. I thought it was common knowledge, but it seems not to be, so there will be a post coming up on that!

  3. Wiki says for pneumoconiosis disease, “The reaction of the lung to mineral dusts depends on many variables, including size, shape, solubility, and reactivity of the particles. For example, particles greater than 5 to 10 μm are unlikely to reach distal airways, whereas particles smaller than 0.5 μm move into and out of alveoli, often without substantial deposition and injury. Particles that are 1 to 5 μm in diameter are the most dangerous, because they get lodged at the bifurcation of the distal airways.” Hard to say which minerals would cause this in makeup, and what exact particle size could cause an inflammatory response. Wish we knew more info about what is harmful and that companies were required to specify particle size range (as no company can guarantee all particles are exactly same size, i.e., it will be a range)

    • I am with you here. This is only the top of the iceberg anyway. Thank you for commenting! – “Wish we knew more info about what is harmful and that companies were required to specify particle size range (as no company can guarantee all particles are exactly same size, i.e., it will be a range)”

  4. Talc mined for example in Italy has asbestos in it. There is no way to know, or for the manufacturer to know where the talc, bought from a distributor, is actually mined. These so called “natural” substances can be somewhat misleading and most certainly potentially toxic. Arsenic and lead for example, are elements created in nature too, but that doesn’t mean they’re not extremely hazardous.

    • You’re absolutely right. I avoid talc, although it can be found even in certified organic products so an ingredient check is a basic thing to do. (And also snake venom is 100% natural but far from being good for us, right)

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  7. What an amazing article. Thank you. I am going to bookmark your page.

  8. I work a manufacturing job where the kind of mica inhalation is the based for the studies that show it’s bad to breathe it. We have huge gallon drums of the stuff that we use to powder pallets of compound multiple times a day. It coats every surface in the place. If you’re directly working with it you leave shimmering from the clouds it throws up. We spend 40 hours a week there. My point is, the little bit you’re breathing while you’re doing your makeup will be just fine. However I find powdered makeup to be to drying so whatever 💄

    • Your point is taken, and as I said, smoking is probably worse than applying powder, but my point is: in reality no one can tell how much of it is “just fine”. People used to think (for whatever reason, but I digress) talcum was safe for their personal hygiene!

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  10. Pure + Simple makes my favourite foundation and skin care. Have you done Any research done on their foundation ?

    • Hey Ela, no unfortunately I haven’t. I see it’s a Canadian brand, and AFAIK it’s not known or available in Germany at the moment. Will monitor; am curious 😉

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  12. Your information is helpful and very useful. Every other website seems to have no direct answer!!

  13. Great article!!! I too just started on the journey of finding safe cosmetics and have decided to make my own. The only colors I can’t find that are not a food stuff or herb is blue and purple. I have thought about trying dried flowers in these colors and crushing them down to a powder and then adding arrowroot powder and maybe a little water and use as eyeshadow. I have considered buying non-nano mica’s in blue and purple and mixing with the above ingredients too. I think as little as I really use make-up that the exposure would be minimum. Do you know of a good source for non-nano mica’s?

    • Hi Debbie and thanks for the nice words 🙂

      I’m afraid I’m not in the know DIY-ingredient-wise, but I suppose you could find ready-made, clean cosmetics and support those brands. Because DIY products with no lab testing (self-made or bought from indie sellers) can actually go all kinds of wrong as well. For example last year, a homemade nail polish sold through a major online platform has caused allergies.

      Also, mica in pencils (or: in any liquid formula such as eye liner) can’t be actually breathed in, so it shouldn’t be a concern anyway. I use mica-based products myself. I just try to not dust them into the air with some gorgeous powder buff or something 😉 or blend powders with moisturisers for a custom foundation.

      • The problem with buying ready-made is the cost. Also, since I don’t wear eyeshadow everyday I’m thinking I will find a good source for non-nano mica pigments and just experiment. Thanks for the reply.

        • Yes, experimenting is great 🙂 Maybe you’ll come up with some truly novel idea while at that, Debbie. I’m all pro adventures 😉 just keep it safe and healthy ❤

  14. I was just looking into mica colors for soap making and have decided to pass on them based on your article. Thanks for the info! It’s so hard nowadays to know what to use and what to avoid!

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  17. HELLO, i’m so glad i found this article. How about Rejuva minerals and Natural solutions (bewellstaywell) cosmetics? they dont use those evil ingredients, have u ever tried?

    • Hi, no I haven’t 🙂 There are so many brands out there. Both brands you mention score well on EWG Skindeep. Good find!

  18. Hello, so I am pretty new to “safe/ organic makeups” and I just started my research and found a site called “Nudiskin Cosmetics” (www.nudiskin.com) and they have a powder foundation that is titanium dioxide and mica free. Do you know anything about this brand and if it has any other ingredients that are potentially harmful? Has anyone reading my comment tried this product? I have sensitive combo skin that tends to break out with anything I put on it which is why I want to make the switch to something natural and non-harmful.

    • Hi Brittany, I haven’t heard of this brand, and couldn’t find it on EWG Skindeep either. I presume they’re new, then?

      If your skin is particularly sensitive and “reactive”, you’re best advised to find What Exactly triggers the reactions – food? skincare ingredients? sun rays? fragrance? – before you invest in new skincare and cosmetics. This would be like gambling, really. But I applaud you for considering organics! Also think about using the EWG Skindeep database (it’s for the USA and Canada; for Europe there are others, I’m not quite sure where you’re based) to check all your products beyond the packaging promises 😉

    • Hi, Have you thought about making your own cosmetics? There are some great recipes out there using arrowroot powder, cacao powder for color, and some other optional ingredients. I’m just starting my journey making my own foundation, blush, eyeliner and eyeshadows. It is so much cheaper than buying one ounce of foundation for $50!!! The great thing is most of the ingredients are edible so completely safe for the skin too!!

      • I would argue re “completely safe”, since you never know where an allergy hits (just an example: cinnamon in an eye shadow powder would probably be my ER ticket), but I know absolutely what you mean 🙂

        And no, I haven’t tried to blend any colour cosmetics yet. I’m making my own perfumes, hair masks and herbal shampoos though, because there’t not a *single* shampoo out there that suits my needs.

        • Yeah, I hear you. For those that are really sensitive to numerous things it makes it really hard. My thought is you know exactly what you are mixing together instead of buying something with ingredients that you can’t pronounce!!! I’ll let you know how my mixtures come out!

            • You make your own perfumes? Are they available or can you direct me to instructions? I’ve just started delving into this topic! Thank you sooooooo much! 🙂

    • I recently tried the makeup from Nudiskin Cosmetics and I’m in love with it. I’m sensitive to Mica and decided to try both of their formulas, the mica free and their titanium dioxide and mica free. Before ordering I checked the ingredients against the EWG database and all the ingredients were found safe. Once I tried the makeup on my skin, right away i noticed that I didn’t even feel like I had makeup on. The mica free foundation seems to have slightly more coverage than the titanium dioxide and mica free foundation. I have been using the foundation that does not have mica or titanium dioxide more often and I don’t know if it’s because the foundation is so “clean” or if it’s because they include aloe vera in their foundation but I have not had any irritation on my skin and I find that the little bumps that I usually get on my forehead are going away. So far I am really liking their makeup and definitely recommend it.

  19. Hello
    Thanks for your effort!
    I noticed some ingredients are okay when in liquid foundation for example and not good as a powder and vice versa ..can you make a list please?
    Thanks

    • Hi dear Anonymous 🙂 I haven’t heard of this particular brand, but their EWG Skindeep ratings are pretty good and a (quick) ingredient check of the products on their website leaves me very impressed. Thank you for the suggestion, I will definitely take my time to evaluate.

  20. What do you think of epic mineral cosmetics?
    and how about the ingredient ultramarine blue and boron nitride?
    Thank you very much!

    • I’ve not used epic cosmetics yet; in the EU CI 77007 (ultramarine pigment allowed for use in the EU) and Boron nitride are considered safe at the moment. The EWG Skindeep database considers BN safe but – interestingly – rates ultramarines 1-4 and lists several concerns as well.
      What are your specific concerns about these two ingredients?

      • Thank you very much for your quick reply!
        The reason I am asking as Epic Cosmetics states that their products may contain ultramarine and/or boron nitride.
        Like you I say I am a bit concerned about these ingredients looking at the information of the EWG skindeep database.
        I emailed Epic Cosmetics asking them which products do contain ultra marine/boron nitride.
        And I asked them as well about their iron oxides in the products

        What do you think of the brand Rejuva Minerals?
        Their raspberry blush does not contain mica, ultramarine, titanium dioxide. Their conceiler does contain boron nutride but they say its from a natural mineral.

        Right now I use Au naturale cosmetics. I am quite satisfied with it, buttt it does contain mica..
        I am considering switching to Epic, but first waiting if they have ultramarine free products! As I think mica and ultra marine are both not nice!

        Very confusing all of this and a lot of research and research!

        Is their any clear/perfect chemical free brand??

        • I so hear you on your confusion. Unfortunately, there are “as clean as possible” products, and often if a brand’s lipstick is fine, then maybe the mascara isn’t, or the powder is good, the lipgloss is not – you get the idea.

          Ingredients like mica, talc, boron nitride are potentially dangerous when inhaled – is the concealer in question a dry product or a stick/liquid formula?

          • Thank you very much for your reply!
            The conceiler from Rejuva Minerals is a dry product with boron nitirde, so I guess not that good….
            The conceiler from Au naturale is a liquid product, but does contain mica.
            Epic answered me by email and most of their products are ultra marine and boron nitride free, they emailed me a list.
            They will be launching conceilers soon, so wait and c what is in them;))

        • I have avoided ultramarines and use Epic Mineral Beauty and am really loving it. They say they have ulramarines in just a few products that have ‘purple’ to them. So not a lot of products considering they seem to have a ton of options. A couple blushes have it, when I emailed them to ask. I highly recommend!!

          • Yes you are right, that is what they answered to me as well..
            just waiting for them to amplify their products with conceiler etc

          • You are right, they answered to me as well by email.
            Just waiting for them to amplify their products with conceiler etc

  21. what do you think of epic mineral beauty?
    and what about the ingredient ultra marine blue and boron nitride?

    thank you!

    • Also, doesn’t Epic Mineral Beauty use boron nitride in the bronzers but not anything else? I found that reassuring and just use one of their foundations as a bronzer too.

  22. The problem with mica too is that the majority of it is a product of child slavery. Very few companies can or are willing to produce information about how their mica is sourced. I know because I’ve emailed all my favourite vegan & natural brands and only a couple of them have given me proper answers. DeVita have a whipped liquid foundation that is mica free, but that is the only decent one I’ve been able to find. I settle for others that contain mica from verified legal sources like 100% Pure whose supplier is from a mine in India where the workers are adults and have a union.

    • Hi Emma, thank you so much for your comment! That’s what I do as well, I gather information (also for a follow-up on this post). Mica in relations to child slavery was a subject of a study conducted by a Danish NPO. Have you seen it?
      Inika for example also have verified sources. Some brands never write back – it really takes time to gather enough info for a well-researched post (with matters so grave, I want all the facts I can get). It matters a lot to me to see that I’m not the only one concerned about the problem too. Thank you! Best, Nath

  23. I was just looking into mica colors for soap making and have decided to pass on them based on your article. Thanks for the info! It’s so hard nowadays to know what to use and what to avoid!

  24. This is all so very helpful. I am currently looking at Epic Mineral Beauty. (http://shopepicmineralbeauty.com/) They say mica free, titanium dioxide free, talc free, bismuth free, nanoparticle free, carmine free, zea mays free, propylene glycol free, dimethicone free, coal tar free, phthlate free, paraben free, bht & bha free, gmo free, fragrence free, gluten free, cruelty free, no synthetic anything, no coated particles, and nothing artificial.

    The list of what they say is not in their products is huge.
    http://epicmineralbeauty.myshopify.com/pages/titanium-free-makeup
    It is looking promising but I noticed that you said synthetic iron oxides are the safe ones, not the natural iron oxides due to metals.

    Anyway, I am trying to figure out what is in their products since so much is not in them. LOL!

  25. You mention four brands above (Alima pure, lily Lola, everyday minerals and inika). What products do you trust from each? Or would I be ok if I ordered all my makeup from one of these brands? Also, what brand do you use for skincare such as face cleanser, face scrub, toner, and moisturizer? Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Melissa!
      For products I use, please check out the tag “in my beauty case” and get inspired 😉
      Please keep in mind however that what your skin needs might be completely different from what my skin needs. Therefore, I can’t tell you blindly what exact products it would be okay for you to use. Feel free to ask a more detailed Q here in the comments or via my ASK ME! page.
      All the best for your green’n’clean quest! x

  26. The easiest answer for me is to forget about makeup. I no longer wear it, but still hope to find some with no mica, no iron oxide and none of the crud you’ve mentioned. Or make my own. For now, clean feels so much better.

    • You’re perfectly right – nothing can replace the look and the feeling of skin that’s flawless naturally ❤ However we all like to play, sometimes anyway, so I just would LOVE those "toys" to be as ethically perfect as can be.

  27. Can we say powders containing silica is somehow better than mica?
    Or are they the same?

    • Hi Amy, mica and silica are different ingredients.
      Silica are proven to be be hazardous when inhaled. In fact, from what we know today, silica are only safe in products that are NOT aerosolized (airborne).

      • Will silica or mica more likely to clog pores or are they equally the same?

        • Generally speaking, both have the *ability* to clog pores.

          Now it gets tricky because in real life some people will experience clogged pores from silica, some from mica, others from both, and again others from none of those, all depending on their skin type and the products they use. Yes, it’s complicated – and highly individual! 🙂

  28. I loved the article and was wondering what you think of make up with iron oxides?

    I found some all natural eyeliners without mica but they have iron oxides for coloring is that safe?

    • They are – at least from all we know.
      Natural Iron Oxides are nontoxic unless polluted with heavy metals. Therefore only synthetic iron oxides are allowed for use as colourings in cosmetics and food, and are considered safe.

      Great question, Melody! Thanks!

  29. Hey there, I must say its a great piece of information you gathered. I completely agree with you. I prefer home made makeup products that you can make it yourself by using different colors of clay, natural stuffs like cocoa powder, turmeric, arrowroot powder etc. Theres no point in discussing over which company uses non-evil ingredients for their products, ofcourse they use some of it, if not all of it. The best makeup can be made at home which you can wear all the time without any concern. I make my own, both in powdered and liquid form. I heard no complaints yet. I wish you all the best for your posts and research!

    • Thank you so much, Love Nature! ❤
      Homemade is indeed all kinds of amazing, it has only one downside in my opinion: one has to have a truly hygienic environment which is hard to achieve in a standard household with cats, kids and all 🙂 Good for you if you can!
      But fo me it would mean a lot of extra effort, and therefore I'd prefer to buy from a small scale manufacturer who are nerding out about their ingredients and who I can rely does it properly. Maybe it will be you one day? 🙂

    • What do you mean? I must admit I’ve never tried to breathe in my lipstick yet 😉

      • I actually came here because I have been exhausted with searching and searching for answers regarding the safety of mica, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides in almost every lipstick I’ve found – except for some fruit dyed 100% Pure lipsticks. Ingesting the chemicals in lipstick seems just as harmful as breathing in the powder you speak of in this very helpful article. Can you point me in the direction of more info regarding safe or harmful pigments/ingredients in lipstick? So far I’ve concluded the best way to avoid mica, etc. is fruit dyes for pigment! Might even have to make some myself with berries and beet root powder.

        • I hear you on that. avoiding mica is not an easy task at all, as it’s in most products that need a shimmer, light-catching quality. with the “dewy glowy skin” being a trend these days in particular.
          an alternative to mica-based shimmer is always a glossy but shimmer-free texture.

          as for researching potentially harmful pigments in lipstick, consider checking out EWG skindeep database if you’re based in north america, or codecheck.info if you’re based in europe. this should help keep you informed.
          hope this helps!

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  31. Do you know anything about Ecco Bella products. They use Mica, titanium Dioxide, etc but on their faq they say that hey do not use nanotechnology.

    • Hi Emily Marie, I have heard of Gabriel Cosmetics, but not of Ecco Bella. The problem is that mineral make-up is not regulated in any way and I cannot evaluate their products via a glance in their web shop.
      All you can do is approach the brands with all your concerns, asking them to help you, and see if they really answer your questions and how open they are.
      You are very welcome to shoot me an email about your progress!

  32. Hi!! This article is really helping me. I’m trying to figure out of Gabriel Cosmetics is a safe brand to use. On their website they state this : “formulated free of Nano/Micro sized particles” – their products contain Titanium Dioxide, Mica, And Zinc Stearate so what does their statement mean? Are their products safe? What would you say? Specifically their eye shadow. Thanks

  33. I noticed that you rave about EM makeup but when I went to check it out (because I’m freaking out now about my BM makeup and don’t want to use it anymore) the EM website states they use Mica. Why do you still use it? Is it a safe amount? Thanks!

    • Hi Jamie! Awesome question.
      In fact, I don’t really *rave* about it; but after checking for nano particles, toxins, talc and any other possible fillers, my choice of mineral makeup has boiled down to:
      Inika, LilyLolo, Everyday Minerals, and alima pure. And I am testing a new brand right now.
      There is still no data on mica; so I prefer to mix mineral powder with my moisturiser in order to lower the dusting. It really does help. It also helps to do all I can from inside out so there is less need to cover up anything 🙂
      Plus: there’s more to mica than just the respiratory issues, in fact, it can be unethically sourced, and this is something I will address in the future.
      Thanks for your Q and stay informed and alert 🙂

  34. After reading this, I feel like we should just be happy with our natural faces & wear hats!

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  36. so what mineral make up do you feel most comfortable using because of the ingredients and NON nano-particles?

    • I have a post on that somewhere here on the blog 🙂
      Personally I use Inika, Everyday Minerals, LilyLolo and Alima pure (the latter not more because it had gotten compicated to order the right colour here). Trying now: Tromborg.
      However, I have switched to wet application. That way, the danger of breathing it whatsoever is minimized.
      HTH

  37. The “Step 2: ?????? Step 3: Profit!” thing is actually a TV (South Park) joke. ;P

  38. Hello! Interesting article; I’m a makeup artist and beautician so this is all relevant information for me.

    How do you find the mineral makeup + moisturiser combo? How buildable is that coverage? And does your favourite mineral makeup have a shiny finish? I’ve only tried Bare Minerals but cannot bring myself to use it; too shiny and gathers in fine lines.

    Lastly, due to my background in skincare I’m also curious as to whether you have resumed using your moisturiser? I’ve wondered about many of those chemicals!

    • Hi Kathryn!

      Thank you for your comment! Regarding the mineral makeup + moisturiser combo, yes. It works – BUT – you absolutely need a moisturiser that’s good for you. I had a long journey to get there, unfortunately! These days, I blend my Everyday Minerals Jojoba foundation with my Pai Skincare Chamomile moisturiser and voila: a gentle, soothing, tinted moisturiser. (I don’t use Bare Minerals because of some of their ingredients.)
      But I don’t find it buildable.
      What you can do though, is go with the dry product on top and then set it with a pure water spray to avoid looking cakey. The water trick really helps make the mineral makeup more flexible on skin, so that it won’t “crack” or “slip” off the skin – speaking of lessons learned 🙂
      What is Your experience with MM? Let’s geek out!

      And I’m so grateful that you raise the moisturiser topic.
      In fact, I was working on an update post this week in between, well, work, and it’s live NOW, so you can check it out there; hopefully you’ll find it a good answer to your moisturiser question. I’ve tried to keep my recap as short as possible without leaving out logical steps 🙂

      🙂

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  43. I like Epic Mineral Beauty. They don’t use titanium dioxide or mica. Had a hard time getting them on the phone but when I finally did their customer service is great. They email fast. (I sound like a needy customer? Haha) I love the powders…they seem to help my cystic acne and cover well unlike another brand I tried that seemed decent. No bismuth in Epic Mineral Beauty either. What is everyone’s understanding of rice powder? Is organic safe? Like cornstarch I have heard multiple viewpoints about it…thx

  44. Thank you for this!!!!!! I have avoided wearing even ” natural,” & ” organic” bc they all contain lung contaminates…Including serecite! I mean every product from the foundation to the lip liner, eye products, cheeks,… everything. Have you looked into serecite? It is just as bad as mica, & even rice powder is a possible contaminate bc the rice itself that is used in makeup or by itself, has been contaminated with chemicals. Ugh, so discouraging as I don’t enjoy arrow root powder on my face, but I need something non toXic to take away the shine from the only perfect sunscreen I could find…Badger spf 35. I hacen’t found a sunscreen that protects as well as this one & it is important bc I live in the California dessert…I am getting a double whammy or very dry air & blazing sun. The badger is a good protector, but it is tiring bc I have to mix iron oxides with it & then take the shine out by applying with a brush: Arrow root, but it is way too drying, so I am looking into corn starch & maybe kaolin clay… Thank you again for this article!!!

    • oh, you’re right, it can be very discouraging. thank you for sharing your story.

      since it’s impossible to provide comprehensive advice via blog comments, I can only share with you following two thoughts:

      #1. I found that an individual balanced diet can (a) remove all unwanted shine from your skin and (b) also act as extra sunscreen from within (plant-based foods rich in carotenoids, calcium, chlorophyll).

      #2. however, if you use a really “heavy duty” sunscreen, I understand that it gives you some extra shine. in this case, if you don’t like arrowroot & co., you might want to try some very clean blotting papers. most of them are made of petrochemicals, but I found Tatcha’s aburatorigami papers pretty clean and super useful.
      and of course, it’s self-evident to keep hydrated, as dehydrated skin tends to get a bit greasier in order to protect itself.

      best of luck for your routine! I genuinely hope you can make it more enjoyable while maintaining all hydrating/protective benefits.

      • Somehow I missed this post completely. Anyway, sometimes the extra shine, especially during the summer season, requires some powder, but usually I am totally fine using the blotting paper you recommended some time ago.

    • Does cornstarch harbor bacteria? Like I mentioned, Epic Mineral Beauty uses rice powder, and I am hoping it is unlike cornstarch?

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    • in fact, what saddens me is that it is already much better than the standard liquid foundation – but must it be a “lesser evil”? really? – nb: liquid organic foundations are often very good; but I happen to love powders more than I liquid textures :/

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