Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ongoing Mineral Makeup Irritation

Color Me Confused!

Following my last article about filler ingredients, I wanted to elaborate on specifics as they pertain to some other ingredients. I also receive emails and phone calls from women still suffering from some form of mineral makeup irritation even after they have switched to minerals that did not contain the known irritant Bismuth Oxychloride.

Their frustration is understandable since they feel they have done everything possible in choosing mineral powders that have very little in the way of ingredients included in the formulas. Some of these women as I described in my last article are ready to give up on mineral makeup altogether. They describe some of the problem not only as itching, but an ongoing stinging or burning sensation when they apply other brands.

The reason, though not always simple, can usually be ascertained with a bit of investigating as to what they are doing in their skincare regimen or by providing me with a list of ingredients found on the label of their current and past mineral makeup products.

I wrote an article about Mica sensitivity which will provide some answers with a followup with my Dermatologist for the latest updates on what we learned with some of these women.

Potential Irritants In Minerals! And The Winners Are....

Bismuth Oxychloride ~ this ingredient pretty much has the reputation as to being the culprit in causing intense skin irritation for most women. It is usually described as itching, burning or stinging. Once removed, the problem usually resolves itself, however for some, the sensitivity remains due to the damage it caused their skin. It also can leave the skin appearing quite shiny, almost oily looking and enhances pore size by pooling and accentuates fine lines in mature women, and creates severe bouts of cystic acne. Some women have reported aging of their skin after using products which contained this ingredient.

Some of the more familiar products are as follows :
  • Bare Minerals ~ Cornstarch (Mineral Veil) ~ Parabens (Mineral Wear, Multi-Tasking Face)
  • RAW Minerals
  • Sheer Cover
  • Jane Iredale (Original Formula)
  • Colorescience
  • Arbonne Minerals ~ Parabens
  • Avon Ideal Shade Smooth Minerals ~Parabens
  • e.l.f. Minerals
  • GLO Minerals ~ Parabens
  • Laura Mercier Mineral Powder
  • Youngblood ~ Parabens (Pressed Foundation)
  • Pur Minerals
  • Revlon Colorstay Minerals ~ Talc (lead Ingredient)
  • Loreal Bare Naturale ~Talc ~ Parabens
  • Neutrogena Mineral Sheers ~ Parabens
....and this list goes on. Also quite a few of these on the list also include Dimethicone in their formulas.

Talc ~ as a general rule can be quite gentle to skin, however for some it is very drying, causes itching, (some try to equate this as a carcinogen) again inconclusive evidence, but that is another story for another time. It can give the complexion a chalky appearance, poor coverage, enlarge pore size and be occlusive giving some users acne. You will typically find this ingredient in some commercial preparations located at your local drugstore and are outlined above or in M.A.C. mineral makeup and Mary Kay mineral makeup (leading ingredient followed by cornstarch). It is a mineral to be sure, just one with some questionable results.

Cornstarch ~ although it is found in some mineral makeup foundations and Physicians Formula, this ingredient is usually reserved for mineral veils due to its silky texture, whereby it is easy to keep it out of a mineral makeup regimen. It is an occlusive ingredient especially once you perspire. It shifts and clumps on the skin enhancing pores and fine lines. Adhesion is terrible and it can create extreme itchiness on the face once it gets wet.

Parabens ~ can sensitize skin for some and they are found in mineral makeup whether it be loose or pressed powders. I never understood the necessity of Parabens in loose powder since no moisture is used to create it and a single dose is shaken out. Pressed powder is different with ongoing touching of brush to face and back to powder. Constantly introducing contaminants and bacteria from the face.

Mica (sericite) ~ in high concentrations this ingredient can be an irritant for sensitive skin types. This usually occurs when it is one of the leading ingredients in the mineral makeup. Typically 1st thru 3rd on the ingredient list. It is found in just about every mineral makeup for sale. Ratios and different surface treatments of this mineral will be the deciding factor on which product will work for your skin.

Titanium Dioxide ~ yes, believe it or not, this ingredient can cause the ongoing stinging on the skin when found in high levels of mineral makeup. It is not generally a concern when used in a product that has a multitude of filler ingredients to provide slip and to allow the minerals to float across the skin. It is also not subject to its' location on the list such as 1st position since a combination of filler ingredients are used to cut the intensity and it may actually be in a ratio of 7-15% of the overall product as is the case with our products. When this ingredient is typically a problem for some mineral makeup wearers is when it is one of 3-4 total ingredients on the jar. In high ratios it is also extremely drying to the skin, can give a chalky or ashen appearance, and is best suited for those with an oily skin type when used in high proportion.

Example: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides or Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides or Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides.

When used in this proportion or without other filler ingredients, not only does it require quite a bit of buffing, the minerals tend to stick to the skin and don't disperse easily creating excessive irritation whereby the wearer feels as though their skin is on fire or stinging. Also it tends to clump in pores.

You know the old saying, "too much of a good thing".... not always good! When it comes to this ingredient, ratio to proportion of other ingredients is the key to having it work well and do its job for which it is intended. Colorant, sunblock, light refraction, anti-inflammatory!

My Pet Peeves

What disturbs me the most about the vast majority of makeup companies is trying to locate an ingredient list. Some provide it in an easy to find location and others either make it a chore until you give up, or it is nowhere to be found at all. It is as though the company is aware that some of their ingredients raise eyebrows so they conceal them or make them nearly impossible to find. Unless you are holding the products in your hand for review, you pretty much end up purchasing them and only learn what you have actually purchased in the way of poor quality ingredients after it arrives at your doorstep. typically provides the ingredient list for some of the commercial brands.... but manufacturers websites.... forget about it!

Their sales hype along with only providing what is known as the "key ingredient" list to the consumer is how they get their otherwise substandard products out to market and into your hands.

The other thing that also bothers me are the brands sold through network marketing. Their ingredient lists are concealed and in most cases the reps for these products have little to no actual knowledge as to what is in the products.

My Biggest Gripe....Arbonne.

I visited a trade show recently where Arbonne was being represented by the local sales rep and she had zero knowledge as to the ingredients. Every bottle, jar and package sampler I picked up had no ingredient list attached. Sales material was devoid also of this important information.

Even after I stated I was a mineral makeup formulator and gave her the name of my company, she still insisted I try some of their facial makeup primer on my hand. As she ooed and ahhed over trying to convince me what a nice product it was, I remained unimpressed. It felt extremely slippery and I suspected it was laden with silicone oils. When asked about my conclusion of ingredient feel, she referred me to the head rep for the area and she denied there were any silicone derivatives in the products or preservatives in their mineral powders and what I was feeling was all natural organic oils. Silicone versus botanicals are worlds apart on feel and organics was not what I was feeling on my hand. Silicone feels ultra slick and then turns into a satin feel as it dries.

After my inquisition into their product ingredients, which they could not provide to me by the way, I was offered an incredible opportunity and was handed documents to sign up for becoming an Arbonne rep....uh....hmm....staring at the rep with disdain by this point, I remarked, "I think I mentioned I owned a cosmetic company".... obviously this fact eluded her or it fell on deaf ears, or she was more interested in aggressively signing me up to make the company lots of money. I pressed her for an ingredient profile on their line of cosmetics and told me they were available at the Arbonne website.

Feeling a tad incensed, upon returning home, I got on the internet and searched every site I could find related to this company including Arbonnes' main site and found nothing in the way of ingredients. Trust me this was a major task and they were nowhere to be found. All they are willing to provide the consumer is a "key ingredient" list. What I also found was a ton of shills trying to create a fervor of excitement over what I considered an average product. I was determined to find out if my suspicions were right because now I was on a mission to seek out the truth on their formulas. Deception and ambiguity makes me only dig deeper! My hubby thought I should have been a private investigator.... he's so supportive.

I then contacted Arbonne headquarters and they referred me to a rep in my area and would not tell me the ingredients of their so-called natural products until I was willing to become a sales rep, whereby allowing me access to the member portion of the site which shows the ingredients, or if I was to make a purchase, whereby at that time my local rep would provide me with the ingredient list....I am thinking, "this company is unbelievable, what are they trying to hide?" It became obvious to me that the arduous process of tracking down ingredients is to gain a sale and to avoid having the consumer learn they may not be as natural as they try to seem. The average consumer not wishing to rep these products....good luck trying to locate anything about their ingredients.

However, I contacted a local sales rep and played the about high pressure tactics. Sometimes playing detective is very revealing and fun. But it also can be exhausting! Finally I found out the truth as to their ingredients and getting this information was like extracting a bad tooth....painful....and I was correct...the Virtual Illusion Makeup Primer I had sampled at the trade show definitely had some sweet sounding botanicals infused, but it was also loaded with silicone oils and preservatives. Parabens primarily! I also inquired about some of their other products and they were loaded with some natural stuff and some junk, (SLS) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in their cleansers. I asked her if she could send me an ingredient list for their mineral makeup and liquid foundations since she was reluctant to offer much more information without setting an appointment. I felt lucky to get this bit of information. Once I received it, I very graciously told the rep I would think about it and let her know which of course did not occur.

I would consider this company a pseudo natural one. And as I pointed out in the list above Arbonne clearly uses Bismuth Oxychloride, Parabens and Dimethicone in their mineral makeup. Example of their ingredients:

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 12.8%, Zinc Oxide 17.0% Inactive Ingredients: Mica, Boron Nitrate, Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Alumina, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Methylparaben, Propylparaben May Contain: Bismuth Oxychloride (Cl 77163), Mica (Cl 77019), Titanium Dioxide Cl 77891), Iron Oxides (Cl 77491, Cl77492, Cl 77499).

Another example is their liquid foundation a product clearly loaded with silicone oils and the ingredient profile is similar to their makeup primer with a few more botanical oils and minus the colorants and Parabens. This list is exhausting just reading it, much less typing it:

Ingredients for Arbonne’s Line Defiance Liquid Foundation SPF15: Water, Octinoxate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isododecane, Butylene Glycol, Peg/ppg-18/18 Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Polysilicone-11, Hexyl Laurate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Dimethylacrylamide/acrylic Acid, Polystyrene Ethyl Methacrylate Copolymer Disteardimonium Hectorite, Cetyl Peg/ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Lecithin, Coco-caprylate/caprate, Dimethicone/divinyldimethicone, Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Stearoxymethicone/dimethicone Copolymer, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Propylene Carbonate, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Ethoxydiglycol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Laurate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Oligopeptide-10, Aminobutyric Acid, Barium Sulfate, Glycerin, Steareth-20, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Chrysin, N-hydroxysuccinimide, Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-14, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Sodium Chloride, Stearic Acid, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Alumina, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Mica (77019), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499).

I apologize for not giving you the actual names of the other products I looked into since I gave little importance to this and ingredients were read to me over the phone. I was way more curious as to overall ingredients throughout the line and to determine an overall consensus to their marketing practices by which they make sales. My main focus was on their makeup since this is my primary industry. But there is a clear indicator this company reveals little and hides much.

On they are also selling some of their products and they provide the infamous "key ingredient" list for the hook, line and sinker.

Transparency is not in their vocabulary and truth in labeling is only available at time of purchase. I don't understand how anyone can be lured into this type of marketing practice. If I had a rep approach me in my home in this fashion, I would quickly show them the door once I determined their agenda, which seems to be lack of disclosure and to sign you up at all costs. I truly dislike hype and high pressure sales. For more about this company check out Google Scams category for more info. Apparently there are many complaints from individuals who have also had a personal bad experience with them.

Don't Be Hatin'

Now for those that love and sell their products....more power to you. I am sure there are many that love, love, love their stuff and aren't worried in the least about the ingredient list. They may also be having great results with them and love the way they leave their skin....Fantastic! I also know this company is gaining in popularity and is breathing down the necks of Mary Kay and Avon. However it is reported by ABC Chicago News Affiliate that most Arbonne consultants which are in the range of 1.3 million, only 3.5% actually make money in this business.

Truth in labeling and marketing practices is what I am addressing here. I am not reviewing the product for quality, but only explaining my personal experience with this company and the lack of transparency they provide. If Arbonne wants to be a true leader in healthy formulations, my first suggestion would be for full disclosure at the source and a little less subterfuge and overblown claims. Furthermore, it was conveyed to me by Arbonne they are in the process of reformulations to exclude the parabens. I guess they are having some issues with the consumer demanding natural just like they claim. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Paula Bagoun, consumer advocate, has a stance as to this company and she too seems to be receiving lots of emails from concerned consumers. Tres Bizarre to say the least on some of Arbonnes' claims....Bat excrement in mascara formulations and road kill in lipsticks is off the charts even for this company, yet they make this claim about other cosmetic manufacturers according to Paula.

The End

Again, I cannot express enough the importance of being our own advocates for what goes into or on our bodies. Ingredient lists are designed for one purpose, to provide the consumer with protection to a degree to determine potential efficacy, safety, allergens, irritants and for some the product being kosher.

And in my opinion, don't from those companies that do not provide full disclosure, use strong sales tactics and / or do not have a working knowledge of how the products they are selling are manufactured with certain ingredients, let alone the safety of said ingredients. As consumers we have the right to know and should demand to know what is in each and every product that is on the free market as regulated by the FDA. Those that don't willingly comply, we should not give them a single one of our dollars and this would certainly send the message loud and clear. Also, as consumers we thank those more unscrupulous marketers to not use scare tactics and stop lying to us about product claims.

Feel free to share your experiences with us and others. We love to hear from you or see your comments as they pertain to this article. No Flamers Please! ;~)
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  1. GREAT ARTICLE! I'm growing tired of trying to search for a good makeup that doesn't contain any of these irritating and potentially hazardous ingredients..I cant find any! :( Do you know of any or do I have to put together my own recipe? ughhh

    1. Hello Unknown,

      Many women have done very well with our mineral makeup, Sterling Minerals Cosmetics, and in the majority of cases, their skin actually improved. It is about ratios and ingredient structure. We do offer samples to try so that you can get a feel for if this is something that your skin will do well on.

      Hope this helps.