Mineral Makeup: How Safe Is It?

The main claim to fame of mineral makeup–at least as far as the marketing angle is concerned–is that it is all natural, and therefore quite safe to use for virtually all types of skin. But is that really true?

The truth beyond the hype

As it turns out, certain types of mineral makeup may actually contain ingredients that can be harmful to your skin, or at the very least produce some unwanted side effects. Some of the ingredients that you should probably steer clear of are outlined below.

Bismuth Oxychloride

This ingredient is used in mineral makeup to give your skin that trademark shiny look. Unfortunately, this ingredient can also cause irritation and skin breakouts in some people. What causes this reaction? Bismuth Oxychloride is actually a fairly common ingredient in many skin care products, which is a by-product of the refinement process of copper and lead. Used as an inexpensive additive, the adverse reaction of Bismuth Oxychloride in certain people is due to the compound’s chemical composition, which is a lot like arsenic’s. Bismuth Oxychloride will not normally cause a reaction in the skin when it is merely applied lightly on the surface of the skin. When it works its way into the pores however, its chemical composition as well as its crystalline shape, may cause irritation.


This ingredient has been found to play a role in the development of lung cancer in susceptible individuals. What makes it even more alarming is that talc is also commonly used in many baby products and cosmetics. Also used as filler, talc is comprised of minute particles that can inflame the tissues in the lungs when it is inhaled.


Cornstarch is yet another ingredient of mineral makeup that is used as an inexpensive filler. Unlike the other previously mentioned ingredients, cornstarch has a limited shelf life. This is why it is important to check out the expiration date on any product that contains cornstarch, particularly if it is to be used on the skin. Unfortunately, this ingredient is found in a lot of cosmetic products. Among the risks involved with the use of cornstarch are hormonal conditions and breast cancer.

It is important to note that the ingredients mentioned above can be found in a lot of brands commonly sold in drugstores. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that many of the products that you already have in your bathroom cabinet or dresser may contain one or more of these ingredients.

So does that mean that mineral makeup is unsafe to use? Not necessarily. While most mineral makeup brands do contain those ingredients, there are still some that don’t, and these are the ones that are safe to use.

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