Many women rave about mineral makeup and how it’s much better for the skin than liquid foundation because it’s “all natural.” However, mineral-based makeups are often as full of chemicals as any other liquid foundation. Mica, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and other chemicals that are often found in mineral — and non-mineral — makeup may pose a health hazard.


Possible Dangers of Mineral Makeup

A common ingredient in mineral makeup is mica. Mica is also used in construction materials that require the use of protective gear and masks when exposed, as prolonged exposure to mica in construction materials may cause lung scarring. While this doesn’t specifically relate to mica in cosmetics, it does suggest that it may be a good idea to be in a well-ventilated area when applying mica makeup.

Some mineral makeup products contain titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and other chemical ingredients in nanoparticle form; nanoparticles are tiny particles that can penetrate the skin layers and lungs if inhaled. Despite this, it’s not known for sure what long-term effects nanoparticles in makeup could cause. Further testing is needed to ensure nanoparticles use in makeup ingredients is safe.

According to makeup artist Troy Surratt in his article “Busting the Myths of Mineral Makeup,” featured in “Teen Vogue,” the chemicals that might be found in many so-called mineral makeup products — particularly bismuth oxychloride — may clog pores, irritate sensitive skin and dry out sensitive skin.

FDA Rules and Testing of Cosmetics

The FDA does not have legal means to enforce tests on ingredients in cosmetics except color additives. The FDA only takes legal action against cosmetic companies if there is enough evidence of a safety problem for consumers. Cosmetic companies are required to ensure products are safe for sale on their own by law. This means that cosmetic companies could be putting anything potentially hazardous onto the market, so it is important for consumers to check if their products have safe ingredients.

What to Seek When Purchasing Mineral Makeup

When purchasing mineral makeup, look at the ingredients. If the list of ingredients is very long, that may be a sign that the product is full of harmful chemicals. Preferably, look for organic mineral makeup products, as these will contain fewer hazardous chemicals and be closer to what mineral makeup was like when it was first commercially available in the ’70s, when these products generally had all-natural ingredients, notes the WebMD article, “Mineral Makeup Pros and Cons.”

Avoid products that contain nanoparticles. You can look up makeup and other products at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies’ Consumer Products Inventory to discover if a product contains nanoparticles.

Safer Ways to Apply Mineral Makeup

  • Apply a moisturizer 10 minutes before putting on mineral makeup, to help protect and moisturize skin.

  • Open a window before applying or be in a well-ventilated area.

  • Use a kabuki brush and tap the brush to remove excess powder. Apply the mineral foundation in circular motions on face.

  • Always remove the mineral makeup from skin at the end of each use with a good cleanser.

  • Clean brushes with a brush cleaner every two weeks.