2.08.2009

Is Mineral Makeup Really Natural?

Is it?

Recently I had a question posed to me:
...This is what i read recently:"Iron Oxides, and similar mineral pigments are not, by FDA standards, "Natural", because they are not directly from plants or animals. Instead, they come from minerals. While considered "natural" by consumers, cosmetic-grade pigments are all man-made in order to meet FDA approval" ... is this true?

My answer was this:
The correct term for minerals is inorganic. My personal opinion is, I wonder how minerals from the earth are not considered natural? Rocks are not natural? They are formed by nature, certainly not man made.

"Natural" is currently a hot marketing term used by nearly every cosmetic company out there, and it's a term designed to enlighten consumers- in that sense it is a good thing, as proven by your own willingness to research. On the other hand, since it is just that, a marketing term, it is again the old adage, buyer beware. Yes, the minerals used in makeup are processed to filter out impurities, just as everything else must be that is manufactured for human use.

For example, Titanium dioxide occurs in nature as the well-known naturally occurring minerals rutile, anatase and brookite. It is chemically processed to remove impurities to be considered cosmetic grade. Cosmetic grade titanium dioxide is used for makeup, and titanium dioxide is used for many other purposes such as paints, coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines as well as most toothpastes. It is considered safe by the FDA.There are many "minerals" used in makeup that are indeed completely man-made, or manufactured in labs.

The mineral Lapis Lazuli was used in ancient times as a blue colorant. Due to the rarity of this stone, the colorant substitute Ultramarine Blue is generally manufactured in labs using iron-free kaolin, or some other kind of pure clay, anhydrous Na2SO4; anhydrous Na2CO3; powdered sulfur; and powdered charcoal or relatively ash-free coal, or colophony in lumps. So even this "man-made" colorant has its basis in minerals (clay, coal).

Iron Oxides are made from iron ore, however you are correct in that iron oxides made for cosmetic use must be produced synthetically in order to avoid the inclusion of ferrous or ferric oxides, and impurities normally found in naturally occurring iron oxides. So although actual iron ore could be used, the FDA is ensuring our makeup is safer by requiring the use of lab-made iron oxides.

This means it is not as bad as you may think using man-made "minerals" in makeup manufacturing. Minerals are not organic- that is plant and animal products. Although those are chemically processed as well, they have their origins in plants and animals. They have fantastic properties and uses, however organic materials break down and can harbor bacteria unless chemical preservatives are added.

That said, there are many mineral makeup mfg's that do also use organic materials in their makeup. I do not use organics because using the minerals alone, as long as kept dry cannot harbor bacterias, will not go bad or have a shelf life. I've found that makeup containing organic materials always contains preservative chemicals by their very nature, so that one is applying extra chemicals to one's skin by using those products.

One other aspect you may want to keep in mind during your research is at this point, companies calling their products mineral makeup are unregulated. Part of that is the fact that all they must do is incorporate a tiny amount of actual minerals in their products to call them that. I refer to it as sprinkling a handful of minerals in a big vat of chemicals. If you check the labels on products, especially in department and drug stores, there may be a slew of ingredients and the last one is "May contain: mica, titanium dioxide, zinc oxides". The reason a lot of those companies do that is the chemicals are cheap, the minerals much more expensive to include in their makeup- which means less profit for them.

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I hope I've cleared up any questions, if not let me know and I'll keep going!

5 comments:

angelinabeadalina said...

That was a terrific explanation-- I learned a lot. You know what I really like? The fact that you don't need preservatives in your products. I rarely wear makeup any more, and having to buy something new or wonder about what's growing in an old package of something that I used once a year ago is irritating.

P.S. I love your Sparkle attitude!

Liquid said...

Excellent most excellent article! Way to go and much needed post.

Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co. said...

sorry about this but you have been tagged.

Angel said...

Great explanation. As long as people are using the high grade cosmetic stuff and NOT all the chemical crap out there- you're good! I love mineral makeup.

I'm going to go now and slather my eyes with beautiful INORGANIC minerals and take beauteous pictures for you. Hope you like!

My most recent faves have to be Mistletoe, Olive, and ... that Wannabe is pretty rockin, too. But then again I'm pretty partial to the greens. Us blue eyed babes are kinda predictable.

Lagune just plain freaks me out. Very psychodelic highlighter color!!

Carol said...

Thanks for the clarification, I always wondered. Love the makeup.