Friday, May 30, 2008

Is Bismuth Oxychloride Safe and What Is It?

What is Bismuth Oxychloride? This question has been asked by many women and there is still confusion as to what Bismuth Oxychlorides’ origin is and whether or not it is safe to put on the skin. Short of having a chemical engineering degree, it is difficult to understand the attributes of this ingredient and how it is produced. This will be the condensed version for Bismuth Oxychloride, so I will leave out all the element symbols and chemical calculations.

Basics to know begin with…it is a common filler ingredient used in cosmetics and is a leading ingredient in some mass marketed mineral makeup sold by Bare Minerals, RAW Minerals, and Sheer Cover. You will also find it in professional lines of mineral cosmetics offered by Dermatologists, Spas and Medical Clinics such as Colorescience and Youngblood. It is considered a heavy mineral and requires the ongoing buffing mineral makeup companies advise in order to force it into the skin and pores to keep it from sliding off of your face. Over buffing of minerals can cause irritation and ongoing inflammation on sensitive skin types. Also it can make acne cystic by congesting pores and cause rosacea to flare.

Now for the scientific explanation of this ingredient: Some say it is from the earth and others say it is a by-product of lead and copper refining. To stipulate on this argument, both sides are correct. However even though Bismuth is found naturally in the earth, it actually is more commonly found in types of ores and is extracted through a smelting process. The mining of this mineral would not meet the demand of the cosmetics industry since it is not economical to mine it, making it very cost prohibitive, and even though it may be found naturally in the earth, bismuth still requires refinement to be safe to use on the skin. So through an extraction method it is typically a by–product of lead and copper refining and in its unrefined form, it is initially considered an impurity and many of its’ chemical properties are closely related to antimony and arsenic.

The different processes to create a purified bismuth oxychloride resembles something from a horror movie. This is the fact of the matter and this information is not designed to be used as a scare tactic toward women about bismuth being closely related chemically to Arsenic...... it just simply is what it is. However, let me state bismuth is less toxic than its' counterpart. Throughout the entire refining process bismuth accompanies lead and the other impurities such as tellurium and the aforementioned compounds are gathered in anode slimes. Wow... now this is a bit scary..... Slimes.....yuck! In keeping my wits about me, I investigated further.

The Bismuth then goes through what is known as the Betts process to separate it from the undesirable impurities as stated above: Basically it is run through an electrolytic solution of lead fluorosilicate and fluorosilicic acid and is then filtered, dried, and smelted and then further refined depending on the purity desired.

At this stage the bismuth is still not safe for cosmetic use.

The process continues as impurities are further removed through adding molten caustic zinc and then chlorinated. This then creates Bismuth Chloride.

But Wait....Still not for cosmetic use, yet!

Bismuth Chloride is then treated with water then dried to form a white precipitate so formed to expel the water. Then treated further with a dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate and sodium chloride....hence the latter being where certain companies want to claim it as a naturally occurring mineral salt.

Now through evaporation and crystallization, the compound produced is the safer non-toxic by-product which is now the pearlescent, creamy feeling ingredient used as a filler giving mineral makeup its’ glow or shine on the skin enhancing the appearance of younger looking skin. It also enhances excellent adhesion properties. As you can interpret here however, Bismuth Oxychloride is far from natural or straight from the earth.

As I quickly discovered with this ingredient when found in mineral makeup, it can cause extreme irritation and actually make skin conditions worse for many women. After learning of this extreme chemical process to manufacture Bismuth Oxychloride, one can wonder why skin reacts so intensely for many women who use this ingredient, or why they suddenly develop an allergy to the cosmetics containing it? Furthermore, it is described as a potential skin irritant within the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets). For those who say it has been used for years in the cosmetic industry without incident, this may be in part due to the fact it is a minor ingredient for most applications. However, with mineral makeup becoming so popular and this ingredient being the 1st or 2nd on the ingredient list, the ratios are heavily increased, enhancing the skin irritations we are only learning about today as more and more women switch from their traditional makeup feeling they are doing a better thing for their skin.

One of the leading mineral makeup companies wants you to believe that this mineral is found naturally in the earth, but as explained here, this is not practical and is unlikely, yet it sounds great as a marketing strategy.

After many women have written to me, they have conveyed this ingredient has wreaked havoc on otherwise healthy skin after they switched to mineral cosmetics containing this ingredient, and has been described as now experiencing burning and intense itching, while having ongoing problems even after discontinuing the use of products containing Bismuth Oxychloride. All things natural from the earth or processed for refinement don’t necessarily make them safe to use even with FDA approval. The overall consensus has been this ingredient works for some but not for the masses and those few only learn after it is too late, the damage Bismuth Oxychloride may have caused their skin.

My word of advice.....for those who have rosacea, skin sensitivities, or are prone to acne, this is an ingredient which should be avoided. This will typically not make your skin conditions improve but have shown them to actually intensify with increased irritation or intense itching as it did for me, especially in hot weather and after I'd perspire. I just don't feel this chemical compound should be on anyones' face in the quantity it is used as a main filler in mineral powders. Best to save bismuth for the antacids and the Peptos'....well maybe, but that's another subject!

Also, if after removing Bismuth Oxychloride from your favorite minerals you're still experiencing some irritation, then you may want to investigate a possibility to you being Mica Sensitive.

Ref; Handbook of Inorganic Chemical Compounds by Pradyot Patnaik
Ref; Chemistry of Arsenic, Antimony and Bismuth by Nicholas C. Norman

If you have your own story to tell about the use of Bismuth Oxychloride, please feel free to share it with us.

Have a great weekend.

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  1. I have noted your unflattering comments on Bismuth Oxychloride and would like to offer a few comments. Bismuth oxychloride is a Nacreous Pigment that offers a very soft subtle shine and does an excellent job in hiding imperfections and adding a soft healthy glow to the skin. In the last year, BiOCl has developed an inaccurate reputation as being “irritating”. Having supplied this ingredient for over 30 years, I find this assertion to be completely inaccurate. Rather, the major “irritant” is most likely the harsh, natural Horse Hair Brushes that are used! Many people are quite allergic to these brushes and will break out because of them. My daughter is terribly allergic to Horses and Cats, bith rather common concerns. Unfortunately, this has been inaccurately linked to an excellent ingredient in Bismuth Oxychloride.

    Please do not allow a few negative comments discourage the use of an excellent and very beneficial cosmetic ingredient.

    Bismuth Oxychloride is not related in any way with Arsenic! It is completely and totally different! Linking it to Arsenic is not a responsible comment.
    Bismuth is mined as a byproduct of Lead and Copper Mines, this much is true. However, the Bismuth Oxychloride is produced from the Purified Metal! This pure metal is much like a Gold or Silver nugget in appearance and is better than 99.9% pure Bismuth! To form the Bismuth Oxychloride, the metal is dissolved in an aqueous Hydrochloric Acid solution and then completely neutralized, precipitated and washed to form a shiny, pearly pigment. This pigment has been very successfully used for many years without incident or allergic reaction. BiOCl represents a really excellent ingredient to use for foundations and eye shadows.

    The material is not ground into your skin, rather, it has a flat crystalline structure that provides a really creamy soft elegant feel with great adhesion to the skin. It hides imperfections, aging spots, and wrinkles very effectively! It should remain in the Formulators Toolbox to help everyone look their very best!

    This material offers a really great benefit to the consumer and should be welcomed in the formulation. Thank you for considering this alternative view!

  2. Hello Doug,

    Although I can see how important it was for you to make your opinion known due to the fact you are a supplier for over 30 yrs of the ingredient in question, and I appreciate your profound loyalty, unfortunately it is an inaccurate one and I stand by the information I provided.

    I will agree on your points as to it providing coverage and works well in hiding imperfections, however it is still linked to being a skin irritant.

    You also want to equate Bismuth Oxychloride as not being related in any way to Arsenic and remarked that this comment is irresponsible. I would ask you to reread my description of bismuth. I never state that in its' refined form it was. I stated that bismuth in its unrefined form is considered an impurity and is chemically related. It must then go through the BETTS process to create the end product. As a supplier you should have full knowledge of this fact!

    Furthermore you also equate that a woman's irritation is most likely the harsh natural hair bristles causing the problem and bismuth oxychloride is mistakenly linked to these woman's reactions. Wouldn't that mean then the irritation should continue even when they go to a mineral makeup not using this ingredient in their formulations? Fortunately, this is not the case and this argument is without merit.

    Although some can also react from using natural hair brushes if one's skin is not use to this type of application, however, mineral makeup containing this ingredient is also applied with synthetic brushes, flocked sponges and the like with all still having the same irritating result.

    As a formulator and a wearer of mineral cosmetics, I have seen and personally experienced what this ingredient does to the skin. Once removed, in most cases skin heals and looks and feels much better, and for some women their skin remains sensitized. Plus there are far safer and more natural substitutes to reduce risk factors and assist with actual healing of the skin. And that is what my company stands for.

    Perhaps it would be wise to do further research as a supplier to fully comprehend what the BETTS process is. You have only touched on a small part of the process in your comment when in reality the method I described, is complete and accurate. In the meantime I have added another reference resource explaining how bismuth, antimony and arsenic isotopes are related. Also I provided additionally the results from Material Safety Data Sheets since I feel it is important to be as concise as I can without adding further confusion to those inquiring about this ingredient.

    I thank you for taking the time to share your concerns.


  3. Hi Katherine,
    Thank you for your comments and rebuttal. Most cosmetic ingredients are tested thoroughly for skin and eye irritation and have been for many years. BiOCL has easily passed these various tests. I will try to share these results with you when I have the chance to pull the documentation from our archives. I have looked over the MSDS you reference. It is from a Stock Chemical supply house, and not from one of the primary BiOCl producers. Our MSDS offers the following reference for Skin Irritation -
    3. Hazards Identification:
    Not available. Not classified as dangerous.
    Toxicity: Non toxic. Non-irritating to skin and mucous membranes.

    While the Betts method is occasionally used for the purification of Lead, the Betterton-Knoll process is more commercially viable for sourcing Bismuth, see Even so, all Bismuth Oxychloride production starts with completely purified Bismuth Metal, 99.9% pure, far removed from the Mines. We digest the bismuth metal, create the chloride salt, then from an aqueous bath, precipitate, cleanse and purify the resulting nacreous pigment for use in Cosmetic and Industrial applications where its beautiful luster and light diffusing properties have captivated the eye and enhances products for many years.

    Regarding the "Association" with Arsenic. As a member of the Chemical Industry, I am always quite sensitive to the often "negative" associations that the media and marketers use when referencing "chemicals". The General Public has been conditioned to believe that "Chemicals are Bad" and "Natural is Good"! Yet everything in our Life, from the Air to our Water and Earth is Chemical! Everything!
    At the risk of being indelicate, Snake Venom is Natural, but we all agree that is not Good!
    Arsenic has the connotation of being an extremely toxic material and so it is. In this regard it is not in any way related to the Toxicity profile of Bismuth or more importantly Bismuth Oxychloride. Yet the use of Bold type in this Blog would suggest to the uninformed reader that there was something to fear from Bismuth due to it's association with Arsenic.

    I further note the concerns that you have expressed about the potential for irritation from certain Mineral Make Ups and I will ask our research team to further explore scientifically the concerns raised to more clearly identify the concise source of irritation.

    In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to you for engaging in our conversation and discussion. It is thru the honest exchange of diverse opinion that we will find our best answers and results. Sincerely,

  4. In closing Doug,

    I appreciate the exchange of ideas and I thank you for remaining professional throughout our exchange.

    Again, although you have provided another source through Wikipedia, it only supports my research not negates it. I am fully familiar with the Betterton-Kroll process. They both essentially create the same end by-product and we are now debating semantics. However I can see why maybe this BK method would be used since the BETTS electrolytic process is more expensive to perform. So it is understandable to keep costs down, the cosmetic industry would find the former to be more viable. But it does not change the facts as to how Bismuth is purified and its relationship to Arsenic, just the two processes are different....I explained one method. Anyone who wishes to explore this further, need only click on the link to bismuth within the Wikipedia explanation, and it will explain the relationship between these two impurities.

    As it relates to my article, I have explained in thorough detail the process; going from impurity to purified bismuth, and also noted that bismuth is less toxic than Arsenic, yet they are still very much chemically related. You may take exception to this, and find my explanation is too thorough, but I am not here to support the entire cosmetic industry in meeting their agendas or to support an ingredient that I, along with many, have found to cause problems to the skin.

    Furthermore, the link to the MSDS is standard in the industry and if someone again wishes to google this information, there are many available for them to research. Again it stipulates "potential for being skin irritant". The Chemical Identifier is the same (BiOCl) and the CAS# is the same (7787-59-9) as presented to the FDA. The fact that the cosmetic supplier you work for shows it to not cause problems can be considered suspect due to them needing to meet their own agenda. I began my company to offer alternatives to the status quo and to provide the information I have poured over to be accurate and without bias.

    Doug, if you are concerned about the bold type related to Arsenic, it is like any form of writing, it is designed to grab the readers attention and then to read in detail the facts of the article surrounding it. That is why I also infuse pictures into my articles for dramatic effect and to entertain. It is my writing style and it is my blog as I am sure you will agree. You're welcome to start your own blog if you so choose. My articles are always to entertain a bit and to inform with only the facts, and this latest comment from you supports my data. Also the consensus from my client base and subscribers are one of appreciation and they are not as uninformed as you may think.

    Today's consumer is getting savvy and they demand the "less is more" approach to skin care. It is through their needs for excellence and without compromise, that my products were developed. I listened to the customer.

    More and more mineral makeup companies are recognizing this and excluding this ingredient from their formulations, including my well known competitor, Jane Iredale. She has recently formulated a Bismuth Oxychloride free product. If you don't stay current with a trend, then you don't stay in business.

    Well Doug, as much as I would love to continue to explore semantics with you further, I can no longer devote the time or energy to this particular commentary. Your viewpoint has been duly noted, and the discussion has been interesting, but now I must draw this discussion to a close.

    Thank you again for your input and good luck in your endeavors!



    I will not publish anymore comments from those working for the cosmetic industry in relationship to this ingredient. We agree to disagree and my research is thorough and final. This article will not be amended to appease those in the industry's perceptions of what or how they think it should be written. At the risk of being redundant, I have made it very clear how this ingredient is formulated because the question has been asked. And I stand for full disclosure and complete transparency for the sake of my clients, not fluff and sugar coat it just to make a sale the way the suppliers expressed to me they would rather have me do it.

    Furthermore, I have had many women contact me about their skin conditions after using products containing Bismuth Oxychloride, including my own experience. To continue to write me and make personal attacks or be rudely argumentative, in my opinion is unprofessional behavior. I made it clear in last post this particular commentary is over. Just because some person working for the cosmetic supplier signs in under another name with a profile of anonymity, with same issues essentially, will not get it published.

    The masses in my industry are all blaming this ingredient for same problems with their skin. Mine is not the only article or company that discusses this.

    Again a cosmetic suppliers agenda is to promote this ingredient. If those in the industry wish to prove otherwise, then I invite them to start a blog that will show their side of the equation and not use my blog as their personal forum to vent! Which I can assume they are doing because I allow for comments, whereas my competitors or other news articles written about this ingredient do not. I invite them to take their argument further with each and every one of those companies individually, including the Environmental Working Group and look up their latest article dated March 30th, 2008 on this ingredient. They are also advising all mineral makeup users to avoid this ingredient since many ingredients deemed safe by the FDA decades ago are now deemed suspect, and further research needs to be done. The FDA is flawed in many ways, yet Sterling Minerals Cosmetics is an FDA Registered Company providing for full disclosure to the public. The profile on this ingredient has a 91% data gap according to Skin Deep Data Base. Long Term usage in cosmetics for decades means nothing to these entities. Only now are we seeing some of the effects from chemical preservatives, ie: parabens as cancer causing agents. Not to equate Bismuth with cancer but as purely an example of what we are learning as our technology and research improves.

    If the unprofessional comments continue I will delete all comments from both sides. I have graciously allowed one industry representative to express his viewpoint without disclosure by him of the company he represents, basically remaining anonymous. I feel that is sufficient.

    Now the reader may decide for themselves and they are free to research further with all the info I have provided. I have written this factual description from excellent reference resources as these are not my personal theories.


  6. Katherine,

    Thank you for your thorough analysis. I decided to try one of those leading mineral make ups because I happened to be out of my usual brand that does not use Bismuth Oxychloride. Believe you me, I had no idea what this ingredient was until about a week ago.

    While I loved the coverage, after the first application or so my skin began to break out uncontrollably.

    I am allergic to both shellfish and dairy and when I eat either of those foods, my skin reacts the same. I get white heads on the surface of my chin, and cystic acne below the skins surface. My chin is so sensitive that my husband cannot kiss me if he has even one day's growth of beard.

    This happend after using this name brand mineral make up. I was absolutely appalled. No one warned me and the person who tried the make up on me for the first time specifically told me that I would have no problem. She said the make up would be healing.

    Far from it!

    Thankfully my chin has now cleared up, and I am now using a make up free of this chemical.

    Thank you for the information!

  7. You're welcome Jen! And Thank you for sharing your experience. I am happy the article served its purpose to assist you in finding out what is happening to your skin. Yours is not and isolated incident. This is the overwhelming consensus told by many.

    I am so glad your skin has healed completely since for some women their skin has not. They still continue to have problems after using this ingredient in Mineral Makeup. However with the use of products that are free of it, their skin definitely feels better.

    Take care and I wish you continued skin health!

  8. Before leaving for college I wanted to make sure I had all the little things necessary, including toiletries and makeup. I bought a new set of brand name mineral makeup and was excited to use it as I had never used mineral makeup before and had heard great things about it. To my disappointment, my first three months of my freshman year have been wracked with horrible acne and breakouts. I had no idea my makeup could have been causing it and searched in vain to cut out something new in my life that could be causing acne (and in college, there are many new things!) It's been pretty upsetting to have met all these new people without the confidence of clear skin, especially after having clear skin all through high school. If I could go back and never buy the makeup with BiOCl my first quarter would have been much happier, but now that I know I can begin to heal. Since I've stopped using my makeup my skin has cleared up. Thanks for the information.

  9. You're very welcome Danica, I only wish you could have found this information sooner. That's Ok though because as you said you're doing much better now. I wish you continued skin health and a Merry Christmas!

  10. Hi, my name is Dianne and I live in Australia. I started using mineral foundation which I first purchased on a holiday to Hawaii. Being Winter at the time, I didnt notice any reaction but the minute Summer commenced I have been in agony. I am exagerating and have gone through two presriptions as well as 4 different topical creams to try and heal the inflamation, itch and pain. My mistake is that I couldnt bring myself to believe that a so called "natural makeup", was in fact the culprit. This problem has been going on all summer and I persisted in using the makeup much to my stupidity. I have awful damage to my eyelids, wrinking and droopy skin under my eyes and an itchy painful rash all down my neck. I happened to be reading the paper a couple of day ago and there was an article about mineral makeup allergies and bismuth. I just couldnt believe it as the article exactly described what I have been going through. I promptly washed off all the makeup, and already after 2 days there is significant improvement around my eyes (I never had any wrinkles or damage prior to this problem) and my neck feel so much better. When I googled bismuth I was actually shaking as I coudlnt believe how trusting I was, let along stupid when I eliminated everything else that I could think of that could be causing the allergy and not the makeup. Thankyou.

  11. Hi Dianne,

    So sorry to hear about your experience. I am very glad though that my article is reaching so many women. It baffles me also that companies using this stuff would promote its safety to level of it being natural and gentle to skin.

    It is great your skin is improving and I hope it continues to do so with little residual damage.

    My new skin care line coming out this month is also formulated to aid with healing the skin, so you might wish to watch for it later this month.

    Thank you for taking the time to write your story.

  12. I have sensitive skin and acne prone skin, and I was excited to try a makeup that claimed to be "good" for the skin and may even improve skin's appearance. I tried Bare Minerals brand, as it is the most widely marketed, and initially liked it, however I began having extreme itching episodes when I got hot or started sweating. Luckily, I realized this was a new phenomenon that only started after I began using the mineral foundation. I called Bare Escentuals customer service line to ask for an explanation or solution. They themselves stated that some women have an allergic reaction to bismuth oxychloride, especially when they sweat, and they suggested that I try applying a layer of mineral veil powder before applying the foundation powder to create a barrier. Needless to say, this "solution" did not work. I stopped using the makeup immediately and luckily the itching went away. However, I am so frustrated with a company that clearly KNOWS of the skin irritation this ingredient causes and continues to put it in their products anyway. I think their behavior is irresponsible. The itching sensation I felt was so extreme and painful, I would have to go into a bathroom and splash cool water on my face just to stop the burning. I just feel so sorry for the hundreds and possibly thousands of women using mineral cosmetics formulated with Bismuth Oxychloride that are suffering from skin irritation and have no idea it is being caused by the "skin healing" makeup! My heart goes out to them.
    Oklahoma City, OK

  13. Thank you Alicia for sharing your story. Though your story is not an uncommon one, I am so glad your skin recovered without long term problems as has been experienced by others.

    And unfortunately this company is selling to the masses and it is a numbers game. There are many women who do fine on this mineral makeup while others suffer. Some women can put anything on their skin because they typically have perfect skin with little to no problems. They have "dream" skin. Something I wish I had.

    But alas for many of us we have flaws and issues surrounding years of abuse from sun and suffer from acne, rosacea, etc. For those of us who have skin problems, being selective and careful about what we apply to our skin is crucial.

    I wish you continued skin health!

  14. I've been using Sheer Cover brand for perhaps a month or so now, and for the last few weeks have been suffering from a very itchy rash on my arms and legs (mostly legs) and until today, in fact a little over an hour ago, I didn't put that together with the use of the make up. I simply googled "allergic reactions to sheer cover" and all this popped up! I can't wait to get home to wash my face and to stop using this so I can become sane again. The itching has been driving me insane. I've noticed my acne picking up a bit, but the rash on my legs has been the most glaring symptom by far. I'm going to bookmark this page so I can write again and confirm that stopping the makeup cleared the problem. Doug is right about the cosmetic benefit-- I'll be sorry to lose the glow it gave my face, but not at this price!!

  15. Hi Annalisa,

    I perfectly understand the frustration of finding something you like in which it makes your skin glow, yet creates the problems that are described here.

    The good news is you don't have to end up with a flat looking face using mineral makeup. For instance, that is why I incorporate Methicone in my foundations with very little Mica. This gives the skin a subtle glow without looking shiny or oily. Methicone is very silky in texture, not oily and is perfect for giving skin beautiful refracting properties to help hide those little imperfections. Boron Nitride also contributes to a glow to the skin, provides excellent adhesion, and has antiseptic properties as well.

    Bismuth Oxychloride simply is not necessary anymore to achieve that healthy glow when there are other ingredients that are far more superior and much safer.

    I wish you good luck with clearing up your skin and continued skin health in whatever you find to replace your sheer cover. Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. A couple of years ago I started using mineral makeup that doesn't include bismuth oxychloride. As a result, my skin is clearer. I never linked my ongoing acne problem with the various foundations I tried over the years. I have sensitive skin and now I research a product and its ingredients before buying it.

    We all need to be informed and engaged consumers. It is up to us to protect ourselves and our families.

  17. I recently ran out of mineral makeup I had been using for a few years with no problems. I bought a different brand whose name definitely implies that it has ONLY pure mineral ingredients in it.

    After only two applications I had a terrible outbreak of acne and a small patch of incredibly dry skin. I've never experienced the dry skin patches and haven't had acne in years. I finally looked through the ingredients on my makeup and started doing research, which led me to this site.

    I'm very disappointed in the marketing for this product and am hoping I can return it for a refund. It wasn't cheap and I was counting on it to be pure.

    Thank you for having this information out here. It really helped me get to the bottom of what was going on with my skin. I hope the message spreads so that women do not continue to suffer while thinking they are using a natural product.

  18. Thank you Gina Marie and Jessica for sharing your stories.

    It is unfortunate that through marketing tactics, the consumer is lulled into a false sense of security of using something wonderful for their skin.

    That is why this article was written, to show women there is a better alternative and to avoid marketing hype.

    I wish you both continued skin health!

  19. Hi,
    I had a question for Katherine hoping she'll respond. Katherine you sound very well versed in mineral makeup and I have been scouring for someone with ur knowlege!! I bough everyday minerals and I love it, I have tried Bare escentuals and my skin itched and I broke out. Stopped using it and Voila Im soo much better. Well, colorscience has been promoting that mineral makeup should not sink to the bottom of a glass, it should float. That mineral makeup that sinks and mixes in with the water is inferior and has fillers in it. Now I tried this at home with my BE and my everyday minerals. Well, my EDM fell to the bottom and made the water brown! I was shocked at the findings, the Bare minerals did not sink at all. it didnt even mix when I stirred it. Now I dont know how accurate this test is...but I was a little sad about it. I bought EMD because they do not contain Bismuth Oxychloride. My question to you is, why would mineral makeup sink? Why would it float? Could the bouyancy of the makeup have something to do with bismuth oxychloride? I am no chemist...but you all are very educated. I would like to know if there is any correlation between this test and the use of bismuth. Oddly enough EMD doesnt contain it and it sank...BE and colorscience contain it and they float? Is there a link or is EDM really inferior and I wasted my money? Someone help!! My email address is
    Would love to hear back from anyone really!! Thanks!

  20. Hello Rebecca,

    I'll be honest this is a new one on me and one that I find suspect. Just for your own information, Colorscience is manufactured by the same woman who began Bare Escentuals, Diane Ranger. Also, the floating trick has nothing to do with Bismuth Oxychloride being included or not. They are basing this theory on a micronized ingredient being processed correctly as being what makes the minerals float. And if they don't or they muddy up the water they are inferior minerals and / or they possess fillers. Only in part does this prove water repellency. Case in point as explained in my Research Center and re-posted for your information in part in regard to fillers:

    Q: Many mineral makeup companies tout they are all natural minerals without any fillers and those who use fillers are not providing a “true mineral makeup”. Why do you use fillers?

    A: Don't be fooled by statements that Sterling Minerals isn't real mineral makeup if we have any filler in the product. The word “filler” is a sales tactic and an insinuation that all filler is “bad” and is unnecessary to use when making Mineral Cosmetics. These statements are false and misleading and designed to instill caution in a consumer not having full understanding of what filler is. “Filler” by definition, is any inert ingredient used to create bulk, texture or lubricity to a finished product. For instance, a product containing Mica (Sericite), (main filler, mineral), Titanium, Zinc (active ingredients, essential minerals), Iron Oxides (pigments) and mainly Bismuth Oxychloride (bi-product of minerals, filler) may be referred to as a “True Mineral Makeup” because these are all types of minerals, it just doesn't necessarily make them the healthier choice for skin.

    There are far better suited fillers to replace certain irritants such as (Bismuth or Mica) and still be an exceptional mineral makeup. It is about the delivery of essential Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide (main minerals) to the face when blended with one or more of these ingredients, Bismuth Oxychloride, Mica (Sericite), (treated or untreated), Rice Powder, Silk Powder, Silk Protein, Boron Nitride, Arrowroot Powder, Tapioca Starch, Silica Spheres, Methicone, Dimethicone, Silicone, Cornstarch, Talc and Kaolin Clay, only to name a few. All mineral makeup by definition has some sort of filler in it. According to the cosmetic industry, Bismuth and Mica are categorized as filler, and they offer little in the way of healing the skin and are known to actually cause further irritation in some people. Without additional fillers, the makeup would not have slip and the essential minerals Titanium and Zinc and pigments of Iron Oxides and Ultramarines would stick to your skin causing unevenness in shading and much irritation.

    Also, when filler like Mica (Sericite) is the only ingredient used for slip, these won't offer lasting oil control for women with oily skin or fix their T-Zone area unless they are chemically treated, and even then their performance can be marginal at best. In testing these formulations, we still experienced oily breakthrough after a few hours and varying degrees of “melt out”. (Lack of staying power) Many women experienced irritation from Mica or Bismuth based products, such as a persistent itchy feeling. Micro abrasion from buffing Mica based minerals into the skin can cause tiny facial tears causing further irritation and can inflame acne further.

  21. Answer for Rebecca Cont'd:

    So you see Rebecca when Colorscience is referring to fillers and inferior minerals, they cannot make this argument since they could accuse my company of having fillers because we use botanicals combined with minerals, yet I performed this water test and our mineral makeup performed the way they should. They floated and would not stir into the water. By way of this test this proves our minerals are of superior quality according to Colorscience. They really are quite water resistant, but I already knew this based on our own field testing with swimming, showering and exercising. They stay on until you wash them off. We also don't use Micronized minerals yet all of our minerals are pharmaceutical grade. Micronized minerals have their own set of problems, coverage being the main one. My question to Colorscience would be for them to explain why our formulations perform beautifully and pass their water test, yet we don’t use micronized minerals and we utilize botanicals including jojoba oil?! Makes you think doesn't it Rebecca! I wouldn't put a whole lot of weight in this test except, they have done nothing more than prove their minerals as have I with ours, that they are very water resistant so it is apparent they will perform well in rain, swimming, humidity and a person perspiring.

    If EDM is sinking and making the water muddy, it is really hard to say what is occurring. I do know that some minerals in our testing when we began formulating, when coated with carnauba wax, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone and other surface treatments can make the minerals heavy and are formulated for absorption, this includes water, (which means sinking) and not wear as well and when wet, broke down or smeared easier. We also tested other products on the market and staying power was poor and in most cases the minerals wore off by the end of the day. Or did not stay on when women perspired. I have had other emails in regard to this problem with EDM, but I cannot comment on how their products are formulated. I would suspect some kind of coating on their minerals since they have different formulas supposedly for different skin types, yet their ingredient list essentially remains unchanged. Very odd indeed! Not all companies will list their ingredients with coatings since they want it to remain proprietary information, yet this does violate FDA Regulations.

    However, in fairness to EDM, women have reported poor performance by many other brands as well, including expensive name brands offered by dermatologists. So like all things, we simply must experiment until we find what works best for our skin types.

    If you are happy with EDM then by all means keep using it. Sales pitches and quirky tests in my book are nothing more than hype, don't impress me and are designed to do exactly what they did, create confusion in the consumer and question their decision for using a certain product.

    As an FDA Registered company transparency is essential for our customers, so we clearly list Methicone within our ingredient list since it is used to treat and encapsulate the Mica for mica sensitive people. It is also extremely hydrophobic (water repellent)

    We have 3 skin type formulas and through the use of ratios of our minerals and fillers along with the different mineral made of a certain formula is how we have truly created products which work beautifully and perform as they should.

    Hope this helps with your concern and good luck with future use of mineral powders and I wish you continued skin health.

  22. Further Follow up to the Colorescience claim of inferior minerals and the water test. I found a link showing this experiment as described and you can view it at the following.

    One thing to note in this picture. The minerals floating on the left are extremely light in pigment and the one in the middle is similar, however, a bit of cloudiness could have been caused by excessive stirring. We will never know.

    What I find particularly interesting and worth noting is the minerals on the right are much darker in pigment whereby you would tend to see more discoloration of the water due to Iron Oxides being both water and oil soluble. So essentially if a foundation is loaded with deep pigment, this naturally would be the result of color that is doing what it should do. It is mainly pigment with less water resistant minerals supporting it in a basic formula.

    Again not realizing how much stirring was done here, it is speculative as to what is really happening with these 3 product tests.

    And other brands that do sink, still is explained as above based on the type of coatings used. Even Titanium Dioxide can be oil or water soluble so if the version of Titanium is designed to break down in water is being used by brand X mineral company, this mineral would essentially absorb the water and sink into the emulsion. This type is used typically for liquid foundations and sunscreens.

    So, in my opinion this test is misleading and does not actually state the truth about what type of minerals are being used, and how those different minerals will perform and has nothing to do with quality of processing.

    Hope this solves the question and explains another marketing tactic designed to convince the consumer theirs is the industry leader and the only one that can be trusted for being truly mineral makeup!

  23. Thank you so much for your reply, you have gone on and beyond. Thank you so much for all your research and very in depth explanation. Im sure you could elaborate more, but my mind might not comprehend. Wow, where do I begin. I feel a little foolish. I do love EDM, but perhaps prematurely. I have noticed the performance is poor. The makeup does not last the entire day. It does repel water rather well. I did find it funny earlier this week that the ingredients did not vary despite certain changes. Which was one of my questions to the company. They assured me they disclose all the, not really sure where to go from there. Cosmetic companies are tricky tricky. It's funny really, they tell us what we want pretty much. I feel almost juvenile.
    I have three children, haven't really been into makeup for some time. I am 24 and felt I needed to really step it up, I go back to school in I would like to look my age. With so many other major priorities like my family, my face has been put in the backburner. Although I do invest in high end skin care (shiseido), my makeup choices have been less than adequate. I just got tired of having "put on my face" everytime I had to apply blasted liquid foundation! I decided to try mineral makeup. Bare minerals was the first that came to mind. I was very dissapointed in my results. My face became shiny within hours of application while under the sun. It felt like it was melting off my face, which is funny, because their makeup doesn't sink!
    Perhaps the most difficult thing in choices in mineral makeup-is the fact that companies like yours that make wonderful products dont use all the marketing tactics they do. Which is much more trustworthy. They want to make us believe that smaller companies are mixing minerals in their basements!! Whatever they have to do to make a buck.
    Your posts were very informative and I managed to follow everything you mentioned. Including the bogus mineral test from the website you posted.
    I have ordered some samples from sterling minerals and I am sure I will enjoy them. I love that you classify your foundations by beatiful names. Very nice. I look forward to trying your product and loving it as I do my EDM...If not more.
    I am sure you were not trying to sell your products to me, but you managed to make me a believer in your product, as I know you are.
    I feel wonderful that I can actually contact you with any questions I have regarding your makeup. That alone would make me purchase your products! Thank you thank you one million thank you's.
    I will surely write back when I recieve my package and shower you with more thank you's!!

    Very greatful consumer,

  24. Thank yo uso much for all of your informative research and disclosure, I find it refreshing! I am new to the mineral cosmetics and after using Bare Escentuals for about three weeks, I started breaking out with cystic acne in the worst way. It was really unfortunate as I do love the coverage it provided, the "dewy" finish, and the exceptional oil absorption, but it certainly wasn't worth the acne and the subsequent scarring I am now treating!
    I recently purchased a sample kit of Afterglow Cosmetics mineral line, and I must say it pales in comparison to BE's coverage and flawless finish. It also does not provide lasting color or oil absorption as well as BE's.
    I really can't afford to spend $60 here and $60 there to sample all the various manufacturer's products, so my question to you, because I appreciate your candor, is what brands are known to be on par with Bare Escentuals line, without the irritants such as Bismuth Oxychloride? Does Sterling Cosmetics fall into this class?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank You,

  25. Thank you for your kind words Elita,

    Fortunately you don't have to keep buying full size products with us. We have sample sizes that will last about a week of trial.

    I know you will see and feel the difference with ours. Coverage is excellent with Sterling Minerals Cosmetics, and you can still have a luminous complexion without excessive shine. Also the staying power is like none other.

    Many women have switched to us from bare escentuals and have become loyal customers. In fact they couldn't wear any other mineral makeup until they used ours. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results. We have 3 formulas in our foundations, one of which will do the job.

    Good luck!

  26. I work in the industry quality dealing with raw materials for cosmetic products. I often take an interest in the materials that I test and what products they are going into. I was curious about bismuth oxychloride and whether it was safe for the skin, as I noticed it gave such beautiful glow when it's applied. That's when I discovered this blog and many other resources I have been struggling with my own skin and terrible acne breakouts for about the last 2 years (around the time I started using mineral make-up now that I think of it). I have tried everything I can think of to clear up these issues. As soon as I started doing my internet research and saw the problems that so many women were having with bismuth oxychloride containing products, I knew exactly what was causing my breakouts. I have switched to a product that does not contain BiOCl, and within 72 hours saw a marked improvement in my skin.

  27. Thank you Christa,

    Your insight is most valuable and other women will appreciate your experience. The trend seems to be evident, as many can see the link between bismuth oxychloride and ongoing skin conditions or worse, creating new ones.

    Thank you for taking the time to leave your opinion.

  28. Katherine,

    Thank you so much for this information. I wish I had read this before purchasing Bare Minerals last summer. My skin broke out so much that fall. It was complete torture. I had used all of the foundation by the time I had found out about bismuth. It is the primary ingredient in their foundation and face color. There are many other companies that use bismuth in its products too. Unfortunately, I own very expensive blush that contains bismuth, but it is much further down in the ingredients list. Does that make a difference?

  29. Depending on it's whereabouts on the ingredient list Nic...many products have had Bismuth in them for years including eye shadows and face powders with little to no complications. In some instances though women have reported irritation of their eye lids only to learn the shadow had Bismuth in it.

    We are only now seeing the severe reactions to skin because it is no longer an ingredient that is used for that hint of shimmer in a color but is now a main component to mineral makeup of many commercialized brands.

    It is best to avoid it no matter what and if you are experiencing any little bumps on your cheek area using the blush then this would be a sign of a problem with bismuth.

  30. To anyone that can help me!

    Today i purchased Bare escentuals mineral makeup.. containing, Mica, Bismuth Oxyxhloride (CL 77163) Titanium Dioxyde (cL 77891) and iron oxides..

    I decided to buy it as I had a facial today and this is the second time the therapists have told me try this make-up, as I was using Maybeline mousse. It's my last ditch attempt at fixing up my skin.. as i have tried EVERYTHING! from the normal supermarket brand cleansers to Dermalogica and now MD formulations..

    If the ingrediant bismuth oxychloride is so terrible.. should i take it back? I was told this would be the answer!!

    And to top it off I literally just spent the rest of my pay cheque on it :(

    :S help!

  31. Dear San Spark,

    Some women do fine with bare minerals, however overwhelmingly most women do not and eventually end up shopping for a different mineral makeup.

    We have heard from many women who have switched over to us at Sterling Minerals Cosmetics and their stories are for the most part, the same. Our powders have completely changed their skin for the better. Our mineral makeup does not contain Bismuth Oxychloride and we use very little mica for mica sensitive women. In many cases women with acne, psoriasis and rosacea swear at how gentle our minerals are and that their skin conditions have totally improved. We provide a full scope of information at the site for you to learn more about our products.

    You can either Google us or click on the icon at the top right of this blog to take you directly to our site.

    If you have any questions feel free to write or call us. Our info can be located under contact us on the site. As for your decision to return the bare minerals, only you know what is best for you.

    Hope this helps and I wish you the best with what you decide!

  32. Katherine,
    I googled "why does my face burn when I sweat when I'm wearing make up?" and I got to your website through a couple of other links. I, like some of the other posters, am experiencing some pretty severe itching and burning (on my forehead and above my lip only) when I get hot.
    Here's the kicker...I don't use mineral makeup and never have, my Revlon liquid foundation doesn't contain any bismuth oxychloride and my face burns even when I'm not wearing make up when I sweat; I'll assume that's a residual effect. As I was scrolling thru the Google results, I noticed talc mentioned once or twice, and I wear Cornsilk Loose Powder. I've been wearing it for years and years and years and now it's discontinued so I snatched up about 6 or so packages of it off a website before it was gone. Anyway, about talc...I googled Cornsilk and up popped a lady's review complaining of how Cornsilk changed, how walnut used to be up near the first on the list of ingrediants and talc was low and how now talc leads the list. That got me thinking about when my burning started, because I remember reading reviews when Cornsilk changed but didn't pay them any attention. I got my Cornsilk stash out and sure enough the first two on the list are mica and talc. So, bam! There you go. Mystery solved. So now what? I read that your products have mica in them and now I'm afraid to try anything with mica or talc. Which do you think is more likely the problem?
    As far as the Cornsilk, since there's no bismuth oxychloride, I was thinking of just using it in the winter when there's now worry about sweating, but now reading about the residual effects, I'm worried that the talc or mica may do the same as the bismuth oxychloride.
    I think you'll be able to help me out. Right? :)

  33. Hi Kelly,

    In reviewing Cornsilk powders, I could not locate the ingredient list for the loose (drives me insane when companies are not transparent w/ ingredients) but did find it for the pressed.

    Talc is probably not the issue. This is a very soothing ingredient and has been used for decades to assist with perspiration in many preparations including underarm antiperspirant / deodorant sprays.

    It has superior slip and silken texture, in fact I use it myself for areas where my clothing rubs during the hot summer and it is marvelous. In fact itching has ceased when using Gold Bond Powder.

    Mica may be the problem but I did not see it in the pressed powder formulas, but I did notate cornstarch as an ingredient in the pressed. Cornstarch even in reduced amounts can still cause excessive itching once it gets wet.

    Mica in high ratios can cause distress for those that are mica sensitive, this is why we use very little mica and it is surface treated with Methicone to prevent irritation. However without Mica, the dimensional appeal women crave for natural looking skin cannot be accomplished without it. So it adds a natural luminosity which skin possesses when it is washed, a beautiful polished appearance of healthiness. But with your liquid foundation it doesn't need to contain bismuth to itch...synthetic chemicals will also cause a burning sensation and some women are paraben sensitive also.

    But one other thing to note, our own sweat is based on chemicals of our body and products we eat or drink, so you may also have perspiration which is highly acidic or alkaline since it is sweat that helps minimally flush our system (not skins main function) along with our kidneys and liver. So the burning can be from simply whatever is in your body being sweated out. Another reason why our mineral makeup is ideal because of the ingredients of zinc oxide, rice powder and jojoba oil, all designed to soothe skin and prevent irritation.

    Hope this answered your question of concern since I don't believe it to be as simple as mica or talc but an entire complexities of issues. Not wearing makeup for instance when you sweat yet it still burns...this then goes back to your own body's chemistry.

    Good Luck and take care!

  34. That is interesting about my own body's chemistry. It's a possibility, but to me it's just too coincidental to the change in the CornSilk. The burning when sweating when not wearing makeup is in the same exact location as when I'm wearing makeup, so I think it's a residual effect. Who knows exactly? I don't eat much spicy stuff, I'm so picky it's boring, but I'm open to investigating all avenues.
    Here's the ingredients list word for word for the loose powder that I use:
    Mica, Talc,Avena Stavia (Oat) Kernel Flour, Magnesium Stearate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Silk Powder, Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Extract, Acrylates Copolymer, Magnesium Carbonate, Fragrance, Imidazolidinyl Urea,Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylene Glycol, Water and may contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide, Ultramarines
    Maybe those can narrow some of it down for you a bit :) Geez, what in the heck are we all putting on our faces?

  35. Thanks Kelly, this is a big help. Based on the ingredient list, you have Mica as first ingredient, so you could be mica sensitive especially if it is the bulk of the product, but this is more stinging than burning sensation.

    Talc, I am still not worried about due to it's therapeutic nature on skin. But in looking at Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate,Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Silk Powder, and Zea Mays (Corn) Silk Extract,these are more than likely over drying the skin and once you perspire, cornstarch is known for itching and burning combined. Even though these are minimal in proportion to the Mica or Talc, when noted in combination, their ratios could exceed the primary ingredient and is more than likely the primary source for irritation.

    Acrylates Copolymer, why this is in here is beyond me since it is a plastic film former and is used in hair care products primarily. Not known for sensitivity issues, it is used as a waterproofing agent, so this is probably added to increase stability and staying power of the powder.

    Then the list of parabens and butylene glycol can also be causing sensitization of the skin, including the fragrance portion, which who knows what is in this in combination? Though parabens are proven to be safe, they can cause skin sensitivity.

    Basically in a cocktail of a multitude of so many variables, your skin simply may be unhappy with this product as a whole. Without individual patch testing of each ingredient, we can only surmise what is happening with your skin. But a simpler list of ingredients will be better for you overall.

    In fact some of us may use a favorite product for years only to develop a reaction much later. Our bodies change constantly and our resistance to certain chemicals deteriorates, just like some develop allergies after menopause when they were never bothered before when they were younger.

    Hope this helps!

    Good luck on your pursuit to healthier skin.

    For over 3 years I suffered with this embarrassing blotchy rash! I saw every doctor in the phone book and NO ONE could help. I spent almost everyday hiding in a turtle neck at 28 years old. Please tell me if anyone had the same experience! I develop a blotchy, hot, and itchy rash every time I get warn, laugh, drink, cry, get nervous or stressed. This began over 3 years ago around the time I started using bare minerals. Please help. Could switching makeup be the answer to my prayers?

  37. Roxy, If the onset seems to be occurring from the day you began using bare minerals, then the bismuth in this product is more than likely what is causing your problems. Switching could definitely eliminate some of the irritation. However it may take a while for your skin to clear itself of the bismuth particulates which are causing the problems.

    Also, you may be experiencing the onset of rosacea and the timing was coincidence, but in any case it totally astounds me how bare minerals makeup is marketed as being beneficial for women with rosacea when this is a highly sensitive skin condition and bismuth oxychloride is a known skin irritant.

    If you decide to switch you also want to look for a makeup which uses Mica in low proportion to the formula since due to the possibility of rosacea onset and/or bismuth over sensitizing the skin, high levels of mica may also prove to be irritating at this point in time. You may wish to take a look at our Sterling Minerals Products since we have formulas specifically designed for different skin types and one in particular for extremely delicate/sensitive skin types.

    Hope this helps and good luck, but definitely stop using the product with the bismuth and see how your skin does after a time and your skin is allowed to expel the minerals and clear up over time.

  38. Thank you for the quick response. I really hope this isn't rosacea. Most research I did on rosacea said the rash on the neck and chest is extremely rare. This is more of a blotchy flat spot(s). I just had basic allergy testing come back positive for dust mites and carrots. Oh I so hope this gets figured out. Thank you again. This was very helpful.

  39. You're most welcome...and I too hope the best for you and your skin. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

  40. Hi Katherine,

    I've only just tuned in to issues surrounding Bismuth and noticed that a mineral powder I recently started using contains the ingredient. So far I've not had any issues with my skin, which is normally sensitive and acne-prone - should I still be concerned about continued use of the product? I'm trying to ascertain whether users of Bismuth will either notice an extreme reaction or none at all, or whether the onset of irritation can be gradual.

    Thank you for your expertise,


  41. Hi Meera,

    Bismuth Oxychloride doesn't always pose a problem for some women and it is also based on it's location on the ingredient list. When it is first or second on the list, this is where more women have a tendency to react to it. If it is further down or in the "may contain:" list, then it's dosage will be minimal. Not knowing the level this ingredient is used in the product you purchased, I can only hazard a guess.

    However, though you may be doing fine right now, immediate reactions are not always the case. Some women have worn bare minerals for instance, and have for years with no reaction until one day, things changed...their skin went ballistic on them and only once they stopped using the offending ingredient, did their skin clear up. It really depends on your skins tolerance as perhaps over time your skin will become reactionary. It may take several months or several years. Or you could be one of the lucky ones and never have a reaction. Also, with summer coming, this may also accelerate any reaction since perspiration on the face has been a trigger for making any reaction be more intense.

    If you love the makeup, you may simply have to play the "wait and see" game. It is really up to you. The article and the comments that followed are really provided as information, and not to scare anyone. But the shared stories do speak volumes.

    I hope this helped and thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our other articles on research of ingredients and products. Or if you ever have a question you would like to see answered, please write and I'll do my best to get it done.

  42. Hi there, Isn't it also true that Bismuth Oxychloride is found in Pepto Bismol? That's enough for me to watch out for the ingredient! It is so important for women to look past that brands and look at the contents of our skincare/makeup. Not only because of the topical effects but these things go into our pores and then into our bloodstream, damaging us INTERNALLY. Thank you for this post, is was super informative :)

  43. Hi SmileyFleur, BO is not the ingredient found in Pepto Bismol but a treated form of Bismuth known as bismuth subsalicylate. BO is a finished cosmetic ingredient and is processed as in the explanation of the article.

    Also not all ingredients penetrate the epidermis nor do they automatically reach the blood brain barrier. A lot of what is written on the internet goes beyond actual science. In fact, in most cases, the majority of cosmetic ingredients do not penetrate into the dermis, much less reaching the blood brain barrier.

    Nano size, penetration enhancers, broken or damaged skin, etc, all play a role in any penetration, if at all. Feel free to explore other articles I have written on this very subject involving many other ingredients, along with showing the science, debunking much of the proclamation, that everything we place on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. Even though there are certain dangerous chemicals, (household cleaners, pollution, pesticides, etc) that can do us and the environment harm, they do not extrapolate to the cosmetic industry as a whole....basically being an extremely safe industry for generations.

    It is always sound to investigate all the information presented, but primarily, science should also be the basis for reaching conclusions, not based on supposition or theory propagated by those with an agenda that has gotten skewed toward the personal care products industry.

    Thanks and I am pleased you enjoyed the article.

  44. I purchased Bare Minerals several weeks go and got the Matte foundation. After i ran out of it I went to a bare eacentuals store to get more but they wanted to do a whole makeover on me first since i had explained i has highly allergic to benzoyle peroxide and very sensitive skin and acne. They used their purifying facial cleanser on me and then the lotion, the prime time, and then the nighttime powder and then the Matte foundation and warmth and blush. Everything was fine after i left having bought the cleanser and lotion and more foundation. That night i washed with the cleanser and used the lotion. I woke up and my face was itchy and irritated looking. It wasnt bad enough to make me not use the cleanser that morning and lotion though. But several hours later my face got worse and worse. It was red and swelling and itchy. I have had reaction like this before but to benzoyle and so i immediately looked at the ingredients on the cleanser. It has benzyl alcohol which i wasn't sure what that was but since i am so sensitive i stopped using it again and washed my face. The next morning it was worse and got more red and swollen but the itching didn't get worse. I started doing research on the cleanser but nothing really jumped out to me as being the culprit for this reaction. I just kept running across reactions to the foundation because of bismuth oxychloride. And the Matte foundation didnt have bismuth oxychloride in it - only the original. Then it hit me. I remembered that she had used that nighttime powder on me so i did a search for the ingredients and sure enough bismuth oxychloride is an ingredient. And my the signs and symptoms i was having matched others complaints and maybe more severe. I am returning everything even though i didn't buy that product but it could still be the cleanser or a combo of both. And i am just appalled that the lady pushed these products on me and when i would ask what are the ingredients she just kept saying its all minerals and vitamins. I have a dermatologist appointment tomorrow to hopefully get rid of the swelling red rash looking stuff that is covering all over my face except my nose. In the past i have Bernard prescribed prednisone to get rid of it. My face looks like a flare up of rosacea or poison ivy. Im so worried to use anything. I was using clinique and never had reactions but nor did it clear up my skin and that's why i decided to try BM.

  45. Thanks for sharing your story qpon84. That is terrible what you are going thru. Bismuth O. is problematic for so many women. Plus some of the problem could have been a combination of the makeup and all the other products combined. It simply could have been too much for your face all at once. Wishing you a speedy recovery, and if I can help you further with any of our products, don't hesitate to contact us. Cheers!

  46. I bought Bare Minerals a month ago. Within a few days, my pores got huge in such a way as I have never noticed before. I'm 38. I was on the Monave website and saw something about Bismuth Oxychloride sensitivity, so I started to skip the bronzed/warmth layer which is the one that contains it, while trying out samples from Monave which contains Mica but not Bismuth. At work yesterday, I went by the spa next door and tried out a pressed minera
    Foundation by Glominerals and by night time, there were this ugly pores again, in my t-zone. It was one of this that said "may contain Bismuth..." it was not as severe a reaction as with the BE product. I have also been breaking out in genera
    Since I switched to mineral makeup (acne) but I also tried to cut out the benzoyl peroxide I did twice daily for twenty years so not sure what's going on there. What mineral makeup brand contains no Mica? Not sure if that's a nit of a problem also but I just wonder. Definitely, the Bismuth is a no-no for me. Sad. Mary Kay with all it's parabens and propylene glycol did me just fine for 6 years. :(

  47. Will have to check out Sterling Minerals and see. Just stumbled on this thread on Google...

    1. Yes do give us a try Folake, women have told us our mineral makeup is the only one they can wear. They have also reported fewer flairs of their particular skin condition when using Sterling Minerals. I think you'll find our minerals to be quite soothing to the skin. Even though Bismuth Oxychloride is in the may contain list for Glominerals, typically, once women become sensitized to this ingredient, even used in miniscule amounts can lead to another flair up of irritation. Also using Benzoyl peroxide not only dries out acne, but your skin as well and is more or less a mechanical suppressant. Acne is probably becoming more of an issue for you since removing this ingredient. Just allow the skin to do it's thing and adjust to years of over drying it and you may find your skin responds well to products using botanical ingredients along with essential oils. You can find our complete skincare line also at our website.


    2. Thanks Katherine. I ordered samples from your site yesterday. I think I'm a Mora. ;)

  48. Thanks Katherine for leaving this post available... and Doug's comments (first comment).

    I was on my way to reorder Bare Minerals when the negative comments sidetracked me.

    I was unsure about this Bismuth hoopla at first because I had not had adverse reactions to my skin's appearance. However, I did experience that itchy, somewhat burning feeling during application. Bare Minerals offered pretty great coverage so I dismissed the irritation as a result of the brush (oh wouldn't Doug be so proud). After running out of the makeup and the gumption to spend that kind of money on more, I tried a competing mineral makeup I found at Target. When I apply this makeup, I experience a cooling, soothing effect. I don't know that it's because this product does not contain Bismuth, but I'm eager to get back home and find out.

    Thank you Katherine for providing this info, although I think you could just leave Doug's comments and it would make anyone raise an eyebrow, squint one eye and frown a little...


    1. You're welcome Mrs. Hart. As you can see from many that have commented, it definitely is not an isolated incident. Hope you find other valuable information in my other skin care articles.....

      Always here to assist women with understanding more about the beauty industry, and what they are applying to their skin on a daily basis without the hype, marketing ploys or scare tactics employed to sell a particular line of products.

  49. Oh, wow; I'm so glad I came across this!! I started using a drug store brand's mineral makeup line and my skin would burn uncontrollably while sweating. My skin is BY NO MEANS sensitive and I have never had an allergic reaction to a skin care product, and I've tried a LOT of products. This was extremely uncomfortable working in a hot restaurant during the summer, running around, sweating, my face burning. Yechh. My acne was considerably worse while using mineral makeup, and my pores looked droopy and suffocated. I'm only 19 years old, and I'm positive mineral makeup has left a lasting impact on my young face. I've got relatively deep wrinkles on my forehead, between my nose and mouth, and on my forehead. I don't know if I just age poorly, or if my 6-month bout of using this makeup wore my skin to the ground. o_o Additionally, I developed a really bad case of angular cheilitis that wouldn't go away unless I constantly applied hydrocortisone. This persisted the whole time I was using minerals, and disappeared as soon as I switched to conventional makeup. WTF?!! Worst ploy ever, something we'll hopefully shake our heads at decades in the future.

    1. Hi Emma,

      So glad the article helped you. Unfortunately you are one of many women that have had a terrible reaction to mineral makeup. In most cases it is attributed to the formulation of the mineral cosmetics. Not knowing what brand you used from the drugstore, I can tell you this, it more than likely contained Talc, or at the very minimum, contained a lot of other unnecessary ingredients, one of which is Bismuth Oxychloride. Based on your description of reaction, this is more than likely what caused your multiple reactions. An excellent mineral makeup such as ours, has not caused the reactions you described and in fact have made our customers skin improve and not accelerate the appearance of aging. Bismuth Oxychloride, as this article explains has caused great harm to many women and is a major reason I don't include it in our mineral makeup products.

      It is unfortunate, that your first experience with minerals caused you such troubling issues. Maybe one day you'll try again, but steer clear of cheap drugstore brands and venture to try a higher end brand like Sterling Minerals. The results may surprise you.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience with others.

  50. I soooooo appreciate your putting this info out there. So many people are buying Bare Minerals and Sheer Cover, believing the ads that say it is good for their skin. SERIOUSLY? I used Bare Minerals for over a year with no issues, and then the severe itching started. I went to a dermatologist, who told me (as soon as he saw the ingredients list), to find a makeup with no Bismuth Oxychloride in it. I did, and have experienced none of the same issues since.....except when I got a free "try me" kit from sheer cover, which caused an even more severe reaction....

    To the gentleman who is a chemical company rep....your attitude is one of the main reasons conscientious consumers no longer trust the large manufacturers these days. You guys are in it for the almighty dollar, looking at only your lab tests and not really concerned about what is doing on the skin of ACTUAL users out there. Blaming it on the brushes? Give me a break! I switched cosmetics, and I used the same brush....a very soft, gentle, goat hair bristles. No irritation once I changed cosmetics! SAME BRUSH!

    1. Thanks Edie for sharing your story. I clearly feel your passion and conviction to look past the all encompassing issues that certain mineral makeup can cause. In most cases, as you discovered, it boils down to this one simple ingredient. Minerals as a rule are great for skin, especially when combined with other ingredients designed to soothe skin, not cause further irritation. And it is great you didn't give up on mineral makeup, but did your research to understand what is happening to your skin.

      Also, thanks much for proving my point in regard to the brush scenario. Nothing is more profound, than proof of this point coming from an actual mineral makeup user, especially a past Bare Minerals user. Always challenge the norm and do your research as you did in this case. There is always two sides to a story and one which I choose to back with science instead of innuendo.


  51. I have always avoided this mineral but never really knew what it is... thanks for writing this article and I hope this information really gets OUT THERE.

    Once I tried mineral makeup with Bismuth oxychloride and my mostly flawless (save for the occasional PMS moments) skin broke out. Did a bit of research and decided to omit this mineral.
    4 years ago, I was approached by a salesperson (guy!) in my local mall from those beauty/makeup carts (I'm usually skeptical about such things) and I've been using Bella Pierre ever since..
    Sadly, it is not the most affordable brand out there, but it has saved me from a lot of damage control.

    If anyone knows of another brand that makes paraben-free (organic optional) mineral foundation without Bismuth oxychloride, please let me know, I'm open to try different products.

    Cheers x

    1. Hello agentjade,

      Thank you for sharing your story of the issues you had with this ingredient that is the focus of my article. You might wish to take a look at Sterling Minerals mineral makeup. I am also the founder and formulator of our wonderful products which we are the 1st and only mineral makeup to offer 3 formulas for specific skin types in our foundation. They are also quite affordable for women and they provide premium ingredients which gives women wonderful results to their skin issues no matter the problem. Hope you'll check us at Sterling Minerals


  52. Apologies to a-llusive, your comments were removed by mistake. I have re-posted both comments in a single post for you and I appreciate your input and so will my readers.

    a-llusive writes: Thank you for this thorough look at the issue. I recently identified my pre- and post-Christmas breakouts as linked to a popular mineral cosmetic, and then exclusion tested and am sure that Bismuth oxychloride is to blame. I've since found that the same company's products which do not contain that ingredient do not break me out at all. The irritation may well be attributable to the physical rather than chemical properties, and I know many who get on great with the product range - I was certainly thrilled with the cosmetics before I developed the problem, and I don't expect to achieve as good an effect using currently available mineral powders which lack this ingredient.

    While I wouldn't want the cosmetics withdrawn, the companies involved might get better press if they acknowledged that a subgroup of consumers may have issues and encouraged patch-testing, as except for this the products in question are well-suited to sensitive skins.

    As an addendum to my comment - the brushes I used were those supplied by the cosmetics company in question in their kits and the store clerk told me I'd been washing them more frequently than advised!

    Also I'm always careful to ensure the brushes and used powder didn't go into the main pot, just used the lids each time, which I also cleaned, and didn't combine their products with other primers etc

  53. Bare Mins makes a matte and orginal, one doesnt have bismuth & that is the matte kind..Never liked it anyways, get better coverage with a tinted moistuizer. I remember when I 1st purchased and told the BE sales woman about the Bismuth being an issue for ALOT of people she loked at me like i was INSANLY stupid and said "its a calming agent" lol I never had a reaction cus i refused the use the orginal formula just in case..Mineral makeup the next big thing now its bb and cc and ayz creams lol I noticed estee Lauder had this ingredient in their new matte primer...In liquid form (tiny amount) its not bad but to buff INTO your pores, NO WAY

  54. Hi Katherine, I've been doing research and (self) testing on Bismuth Oxychloride for several months and I agree whole heartedly with your article.  I tried PUR 4 in 1 mineral foundation in PORCELAIN (the only shade with BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE listed as the SECOND ingredient) last year and it has ruined my skin - especially around the eye area.  Like so many others, it took me a long time to realize it was the mineral makeup causing the problem, because I had purchased several palettes, including blush, powder and eyeshadow.  The website I bought it from did not disclose the porcelain shade had much more BO than the other shades, and if they had, I would have figured it out a lot sooner.  It's been 6 months and the damage I incurred is still there in spite of all the treatments (prescription gel, cream, ointment, eyedrops, antiobiotics) and abstaining from all skincare and makeup for 6 weeks.  Since then my skin has become sensitized and reactive to products I've used for years, and it's been a long, painful, embarrassing and expensive nightmare that just won't end.  Thanks for validating my feelings about this ingredient.  I realize some can tolerate it, but many end up like me and some others here.  I'd like to see a warning on the container to do several patch tests before using all over the face and eyes.  At least this would make people aware that their itching, cystic acne, dermatitis, etc. could be caused by the BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE in their makeup.  By the way, I have very fair porcelain skin but never had issues with cosmetics other than one years ago that contained fragrance (and it was mild).  *There is an astounding number of reviewers on various sites such as Ulta, who had skin issues after using the product.  I haven't contacted the company yet because I was hoping the damage would fade away, but it hasn't improved much at all, so I will wait until I hear what the dermatologist has to say.  Thanks so much for the well written and informative article, and letting me vent. 

    1. Thanks Lisa D for telling us your story. If you still enjoy a soothing mineral makeup, hopefully you will come over and visit Sterling Minerals website to see if you can have better results with our products. Many women have been able to improve the texture of their damaged skin and go onto resolving their skin issues the the Bismuth Oxychloride caused them. We are more than happy to assist you with any questions you might have in regard to our products. You can also peruse the many articles we have for all those that visit at our website to keep women informed of what goes on in our makeup and skincare industry. So sorry for the delay in response, but this blog is no longer being published or updated. We have left it up for those still needing answers to their skin issues. Thanks and wish you good skin health in the future.