Mineral makeup seems more natural compared to alternative foundations and powders laced with synthetic ingredients. But the truth is going mineral over manmade isn’t a guaranteed bet in terms of safety. We turned to ingredients expert Paul Pestano, a research analyst at Environmental Working Group, for more insight.
Rodale Wellness: Is mineral makeup safer than non-mineral makeup, in general?
Paul Pestano: Mineral makeup is not necessarily safer than the non-mineral varieties. It really depends on the ingredients manufacturers use because certain mineral pigments have been linked with health concerns. While there are mineral products that do have fewer concerns, it is not a general rule of thumb that they’re safer.
RN: Are there inhalation risks involved with mineral makeup?
PP: Yes. Certain mineral pigments have been associated with a number of concerns when inhaled. For example, inhaled titanium dioxide, a very common mineral pigment, can cause irritation and has been designated as a possible human carcinogen based on animal studies by various health agencies and international bodies. The particle size of the mineral pigment is also a crucial consideration as the smaller the size, the higher the inhalation concern (for more info about nanoparticles, you may read our positions as they relate to sunscreens here.).
RW: Are there tips you can share to use mineral makeup in a safer way?
PP: EWG’s general recommendation when buying and using mineral makeup is to look for products that are in liquid or solid form. If you have to buy powders, choose products that are pressed as opposed to loose powders to minimize the inhalation risk. Likewise, we urge consumers to avoid any mineral products in spray form.
RW: Are there any ingredients listed on the label that should be used as warning signs that the mineral makeup might not be good for you?
PP: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to reading the labels of mineral products. However, you may follow the general guidelines we listed in our response above.
RW: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PP: We urge consumers to use our Skin Deep cosmetics database and cellphone app when shopping for products. Our app’s barcode scanner allows users to find products, and quickly and easily learn about any concerns associated with these products’ ingredients, whether mineral or otherwise.