Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bacteria In Your Mineral Makeup Jar - True Or False?!

The Myth Spreads Yet Again

I recently received a phone call from a customer letting me know how great her skin is doing since purchasing our mineral powders. She loved everything about them including the moist method of application for better coverage.

However, she was also confused by yet again, another mineral makeup company writing in their blog about Rice Powder. I asked her to send me the link and was amazed at how ill-informed this blogger was, stating that the use of rice powder promotes the growth of bacteria if you get it wet or store the container in your bathroom. Which they further add, the product containing rice powder must be preserved.

Now we have to remember that this is an ingredient brand x either has chosen not to use or they repackage so they don't have a choice but what is provided by their supplier. So in other words, what or how they want to explain the problem with an ingredient does not typically come from scientific data, but a personal belief or simply to cast aspersions against an ingredient to promote their mineral products. In keeping that in mind, let's take a look at reality here and not rely on unsubstantiated statements in order to proclaim what is nothing less than an absolute bogus theory.

How Do Bacteria Actually Grow?

First off bacteria require the perfect environment for multiplying in mass numbers, and only if the environmental conditions are uninterrupted, then you will have a major bacterial invasion.

5 major components for optimum growth are:
  • Moisture ~ Very crucial element! As little as trace amounts or a single drop of water begins the first stage
  • Food Source ~ Sugar enzymes to build energy which come from other wet organic ingredients or just the water itself
  • Correct pH ~ They thrive in 5.5-7.5
  • Temperature ~ Ideally 77°F-104°F for most types of bacteria but can enjoy temps as low as 30°F and as high as 140°F
  • Time ~ This is determined by the other 4 factors in terms of sustaining absolute perfect conditions. But it can be in as little as 4 - 6 hours the growth rate will begin.
Now, not all bacteria have the same growth requirements. For instance, bacteria that we find growing in a skin cream or makeup jar containing moisture is typically aerobic so it requires the 6th element for optimum growth, Oxygen, (opening jar) and in some cases light. Whereas, the bacteria that causes acne is anaerobic, not requiring oxygen or light, such as a blocked pore with sebum as it's source of food, not a makeup ingredient. In essence this is a fermentation process in a warm, dark, moist spot on the face, so when introducing oxygen like a Hydrogen Peroxide, the bacteria are killed. If optimum conditions are not met for any type of bacteria a single cell may die before it can even reproduce.

Once given the right conditions however, one cell can multiply into two identical cells, then each cell will continue to multiply two by two, right into the millions or billions until the growth conditions diminish.

In all cases however, the one consistent common denominator is water or moisture was added to the medium to perpetuate growth. When wanting to grow or culture a bacteria for science research, a moisture element is incorporated in every scenario, otherwise the bacterium just sit there and does nothing until it dies.

Bacteria goes through 4 stages:

The Lag Phase: This is the first phase in bacterial growth. This is when the bacterium tries to get used to its environment. This is referred to as the "lag" phase due to it being a very slow process.

Log Phase: This is what happens once the bacterium has acclimated to its environment and starts to multiply in numbers exponentially. Their numbers mass produce in continuous succession in a short period of time until the environmental factors start to diminish. Sometimes different types of bacteria can be confused for mold growth when it is actually bacteria exploding in numbers.

Stationary Phase: This is when the growth comes to a halt due to the diminishing of food, nutrients and other environmental requirements caused by the increased number of bacteria competing for the nutrients and oxygen.

Death Phase: This is when bacteria start to produce or build up toxic wastes that are harmful to them which, along with the scarcity of food and nutrients, ultimately lead to their death.

What Does This All Mean In Relation To Minerals Containing Rice Powder?

Not a thing!.........In short, if we look at the information above, the scientific data does not support the theory that rice powder will grow bacteria when it gets moistened in terms of a single application or if it is sitting in your bathroom.

Powders are dry and inert ingredients in the jar especially with the lid coming off for only the time it takes to use a single application, and they remain dry absorbing moisture throughout the day on our faces. When mineral makeup is applied with the moist method, the powder dries immediately and really never is what you would call "wet" since the moisture is actually on the brush not on the powders per se. So, no bacterial growth can or will occur.

This further makes the argument that a bathroom would have to remain humid, such as after a steamy shower, continuously....24/7 or you would have to live in the middle of a rain forest to reach sustained levels of humidity. And of course we all know that if our bathrooms were like a lush, tropical rain forest, then you have more to worry about than bacteria in a jar because your walls and baseboards are going to be growing some nasty....well I don't know what....but it would take on a life of its' own and may even grow legs.

Between forced air, steam dissipating once the bathroom door is opened and so on, the conditions are never optimal whereby bacteria will never get past the lag phase. If any growth began (and a big "if") in a time frame of what would amount to less than an hour, it is quickly interrupted with a change to the environmental conditions. Moisture dries, lag phase is stalled and log phase can never take hold because there simply was never enough time to evolve since any minute humidity is inconsistent throughout the course of a day.....never mind the other factors, which is that most makeup is stored in a closed jar in a drawer, and oh yeah as a matter of fact, the powders are dry and remain dry. Also, the fact that most of us do not keep our homes at the optimal temp of 77°F or higher.

Sometimes I wonder, where do some of these stories come from? I mean literally, the type of moisture we are talking about here in terms of loose minerals having a bacterial growth issue, is moist to the point of caked, no longer free flowing, similar to a wet pile of sand or when making a facial masque and then it sits on your counter for a few hours. I don't know about your mineral powders, but mine have never even remotely come close to this scenario.

An example of the optimum condition for bacteria to grow is inside a skin cream jar. This is where oil and butter emulsions hold moisture, then add a trace amount of water, whether on wet hands going into the jar or just the fact water is used to create most emulsions, will be prime territory for bacteria to grow to the maximum numbers. This is why a preservative system is necessary for providing safety to the consumer.

Pressed powders is another one! These will actually pose more of a problem than a loose powder due to the repeated use of a brush on the face and then back onto the powder, repeating the application over and over. This causes buildup of bacteria, skin cells, sebum (food for acne bacterium) and any skin cream or medicine you used on your face. The pressed powder of color is virtually a dirty germ pot and also why most manufacturers incorporate a preservative when creating this type of makeup application. Moisture, oils or synthetics are typically used to press the color into the case. However in this application, preservatives do little to keep your pressed powders clean and effective for each consecutive use due to oxidation and decomposition of the preservative since pressed powder containers are rarely air tight.

Ignore Supposition

So many times we must look through an ulterior motive for why someone wants to fabricate their own science and confuse the less informed. Whether it is through marketing tactics or bad mouthing without evidence, ie parabens, with the list being endless for why certain ingredients are attacked without basis, we have to disseminate the data and then use only a touch of critical thinking to really understand the reality behind the information.

Mineral Makeup Containing Rice Powder Supports Bacteria - True Or False!?


Use any mineral makeup with confidence because I can assure you that even minerals which do not contain rice powder can also grow gram positive and gram negative bacteria. No mineral makeup is immune from bacterial contamination if water is introduced and then trapped inside the jar. At the very least the growth will continue until the minerals return to their dry state and then the bacteria growth again stalls, followed by death. Plus the other optimal factors must be sustained...but as you can see there is definitely a delicate balance to making this happen....

Enjoy your mineral cosmetics and continue to enjoy the silken smooth softness and healing benefits only rice powder can offer the skin.

Have a great weekend!


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