The Debate Over Mineral Makeup: Is it Dangerous?
Mineral makeup became popular in the 1990s thanks to makeup company Bare Escentuals, whose powders are made from 100 percent natural ingredients. There are many advantages to mineral makeup–it does not contain harsh chemicals or preservatives and is thus ideal for sensitive skin, since it prevents irritation. Bare Minerals also promises in its TV advertisements a full coverage that looks completely natural on skin. All of this sounds great right?
Unfortunately, recent reports are warning of the possible dangers of mineral makeup. In February 2010, all chaos broke loose after Dr. Mehmet Oz, doctor and TV personality, warned of the long-term effects of inhaling mineral makeup particles, such as lung disease. The concern seems to be with the size of the particles used in mineral makeup. According to makeup artist and W3II People co-founder Shirley Pinkson, interviewed by Refinery29, “A nanoparticle is defined as anything between one to 100 nanometers in diameter… Due to the small size of a nanoparticle, it poses a health risk when inhaled, or absorbed into the body.”
However, Pinkson says that most cosmetic brands do not use nanoparticles but instead use larger micronized particles between 12-15 microns in size. Perry Romanowsky, author of Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? Top Cosmetic Scientists Answer Your Questions About the Lotions, Potions and Other Beauty Products You Use Every Day, adds, “If the particles were actually the size of nanoparticles they’d be useless in makeup because they’d become transparent and wouldn’t offer any coverage.” So who are we to believe? Are addicted users of mineral makeup, used to the famous “swirl, tap and buff” application method, in risk of disease? The discussion is still going on and no definite answers have been provided.
Remember, cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA approval; they simply don’t have the same regulation as drugs and medicine. When buying makeup, you should check the ingredient list. According to WebMD, preservatives, parabens, oils and fragrances commonly found in makeup may be damaging to your skin and are all possible causes of irritation. As a general rule, the more ingredients in the product, the more potential dangers!
Story by Delia Privitera, editorial intern.