Cleopatra was 2,000 years ahead of her time. Mineral makeup, once used by ancient Egyptians, is now the hottest trend in cosmetics. But is it really healthier for your skin?
The concept of mineral makeup is brilliant in its simplicity.
- Take natural minerals (which are pretty colors).
- Pulverize them.
- Package them in cute containers with brushes.
- Market them as being so good for your skin that “you can sleep with it.”
- Charge $50 for 0.005 cents worth of iron oxide.
While I work on developing Benabio’s Beryllonite Bronzer, let’s take a look at the claims that companies make:
- Mineral makeup contains only natural ingredients.
- Mineral makeup will have beneficial affects for your skin.
With regard to the first claim, there is no regulation for what constitutes a mineral makeup. Don’t be fooled by makeups labeled as “all natural minerals.” A company can put artificial fillers, preservatives, or dyes in a makeup, and so long as it contains minerals, they can claim it is mineral makeup.
The FDA does not check to see if the product contains natural minerals; it only monitors the makeup to ensure it is not harmful. There is no requirement for a company to validate claims that its makeup is natural.
Some minerals, such as bismouth oxychloride are actually not natural, but are manufactured (yup, that means artificial); yet, they are often included in natural mineral makeups.
Since mineral makeups usually are powders, they usually do not have the preservatives which are needed for cream or liquid makeups. This might be beneficial since these preservatives can cause irritations or allergies.
With regard to the second claim, there is no published evidence that mineral makeup has health benefits for your skin. Claims that makeups nourish your skin are unsubstantiated and unlikely. Because the minerals in makeup do not penetrate your skin, they cannot have any effect. Imagine it like this: if the minerals were beach sand, your skin would be a sponge. If you dusted some beach sand on the sponge there is no way that sand would penetrate to get to the other side. It just sits on the surface. If you read carefully, many companies claim their makeup nourishes the skin but also claim that it won’t clog your pores. If the makeup won’t even get into huge pores on your skin, how could it possibly penetrate through skin?
The other thing to consider is that not all minerals are healthy. For example, asbestos, a natural occurring mineral, is carcinogenic and increases your risk of mesothelioma cancer. Talc, which is similar to asbestos, has also been scrutinized for possibly contributing to ovarian cancer and lung disease. Because of inhalation risks, we discourage parents from using talc on babies.
Last, mineral makeup might increase your risk of developing an allergy to metals, such as gold. Though typically unusual, allergy to gold has become more common since mineral makeups have become more popular.
Companies also claim that mineral makeup is a good sunscreen. It’s true that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are often found in mineral makeup, are good physical sunscreens. However, because they’re a powder, they do not adhere to the skin and are easily brushed off. As a result, your actual ultraviolet light sun protection is less uniform and less effective than it would be with a cream.
Mineral makeup might be a great cosmetic — many women love products such as Bare Escentuals and others. They like the look and feel of these products. If you do too, then by all means use them.
If you don’t use mineral makeup, however, then don’t worry, you’re not missing anything.
Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like:
Photo credit: Craig Elliot