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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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:
- Not panic.
- Only use products with NOT nano-sized TD particles (Alima, Inika, Lily Lolo for example)
- Produce as little dust as possible while working the powder on my face
- Wipe the powder from the vanity/bathroom shelf after application
- 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)
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).