How Healthy is Mineral Makeup?
By Claire Franklin
From the Looking Good Blog Series
For many women, skin care is a daily regimen that requires diligence and patience. Thrown into this mix as of late, however, is also mounting concern. This is because products that are advertised as natural and dermatologist tested do not provide the benefits they promise. What ensues for some women are skin irritations ranging from mild rashes to severe breakouts of acne. With increasing attention turning toward mineral make-up, many women rightly ask if this is the healthy answer.
Looking at the Ingredients of Mineral Make-Up
Ben Kaminsky, pharmaceutical chemist, says of the ingredients in mineral make-up, "Quite frankly, I think mineral makeup is just a genius marketing plan - a new way of selling women the same ingredients that technically have been in makeup for years." According to Kaminsky, the foremost components of all make-up are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and mica, including those products without the mineral label.
However, proponents of mineral make-up state that many brands do not contain parabens, petroleum-based ingredients, chemical dyes, artificial colors, oil or talc. Moreover, dermatologists report that mineral make-up is commonly without classic irritants like preservatives and binders. For women, this means that potential toxins cannot get into their pores and aggravate the skin.
Dermatologists also state that mineral cosmetics are non-comedogenic. This is an attribute that permits the skin to breathe and does not exacerbate existing conditions such as chronic dryness, acne or rosacea. Kathryn Frew, MD, states, "Make-up sensitivity is often the result of synthetic dyes, fragrances, and preservatives, so any make-up that eliminates these is going to eliminate some of the related problems."
Finally, reports of allergic reactions to mineral cosmetics rarely occur. Some dermatologists claim that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have anti-inflammatory properties, thus producing a calming effect on the skin. According to them, these ingredients can actually be beneficial for persons who suffer from conductions like acne and rosacea.
Sunscreen Benefits of Mineral Make-Up
While many women wear make-up to enhance their outer beauty, researchers at The Skin Cancer Foundation advise that mineral cosmetics can also be used as sunscreen. They advocate that such make-up can be worn over top of an SPF 15+ product. It offers additional protection to the face that essentially bonds to the skin. Thus, during times of rain and snowfall, mineral make-up will not run off and lose efficacy. According to researchers, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are key protectors from sun damage. These are insoluble minerals that reflect the sun's ultraviolet radiation (UVR) away from the skin. This is in contrast to traditional sunscreens that actually absorb the UVR. Diane S. Berson, MD, states that persons who will be exposed to the elements for only a short time can wear mineral cosmetics with an SPF of at least 15 without adding sunscreen. Persons planning to stay in the sun for more than 15 minutes, however, can enhance their sunscreen by layering mineral powder on top. This will cover any exposed skin areas that may have been missed.
Health Concerns with Mineral Cosmetics
While many dermatologists acknowledge that mineral make-up is more beneficial to the skin than traditional makeup, other distinct concerns do exist. Foremost of these is that not all mineral cosmetics are made the same. It is widely known that many companies include potentially harmful additives in formulations that are marketed as pure. These additives are used for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to cut costs. The ingredients that pose the gravest concerns to health professionals are as follows:
- Talc: found in many mineral-based formulations and used as filler. This is a suspected carcinogen related to asbestos. According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, talc is strongly linked with incidents of ovarian and lung cancers.
- Bismuth Oxychloride: this is one of the most routinely-added ingredients in mineral make-up. Dermatologists report it is a known skin irritant that can cause flakiness, dryness, itching and redness.
- Parabens: mineral make-ups include these as unnecessary preservatives. Inert minerals found in the earth cannot support bacteria, so products with parabens may not be as natural as they claim. Parabens have been found in tissue samples of human breast tumors.
- Titanium Dioxide: this primary ingredient of mineral cosmetics is also frequently found in natural skin care products sold by health food stores. Recent studies advise that inhalation of titanium dioxide particles could lead to lung cancer.
Dermatologists advise that women become label-savvy when selecting their make-up products. Knowing the ingredients used in everything from concealer to foundation can help prevent serious health issues as well as minor skin irritations. Ultimately, such knowledge can improve beauty on both the inside and out.