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Green & Gorgeous: About Mineral Make-up

When mineral make-up first appeared on the market, it seemed like a dream come true for many women: safe, natural (and natural-looking) make-up that could actually be good for your skin!

I switched over to mineral make-up myself in 2005, and have been a die-hard fan ever since. I don’t wear make-up every day, but when I do, I love knowing that my make-up is non-toxic and natural.

Dangers in Mineral Make-up?

You may have heard that not too long ago, Dr. Oz talked about the most dangerous beauty products on the market, and mineral make-up was the first thing on his list. Women everywhere were astounded and disappointed, myself included.  So, I decided to do some more research.

Dr. Oz said that loose powder mineral make-up is dangerous because when it is applied, it can be inhaled and will settle in the lungs, leading to irritation, inflammation, and long-term problems such as lung disease.

It turns out the most important distinction in this case is whether or not the mineral make-up contains nano-particles. Nano-particles are extremely tiny, and not all mineral make-up contains them; some brands do, and some don’t.  The nano-particles are what create the biggest risk for the lungs, so each woman will need to research whether the brand she uses contains nanos.  Nanos are dangerous because they are so small, and research indicates that they can pass through the skin, enter the blood stream, penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and even create free radicals that will damage our actual DNA.

Dr. Oz recommended using a liquid foundation instead of a loose powder, or at the very least, a pressed powder.  However, many brands of liquid foundations and pressed powders contain plenty of toxic ingredients, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, and other ingredients to avoid.  So, what is the best answer?

Photo by yasmin

Here are a few things to remember:

• Be aware that nano-particles can be found not only in loose powder mineral make-ups, but also in pressed powders and liquid foundations. They are not exclusive to loose powders only, and can enter through the skin surface just as easily as through the inhalation of powder.

• A loose powder mineral make-up without nano-particles is probably just fine. Use the minimal amount necessary, and try not to breathe in while applying it.

• Mineral make-up without nano-particles is also available in pressed and liquid forms, depending on the brand.  These may be better choices, especially if you have a history of lung problems, asthma, and allergies.

I hope this helps clear up some of the questions you may have about mineral make-up.  Personally, I will continue using my loose powder mineral make-up; it doesn’t contain nano-particles, and I don’t put it on very often – so if it ain’t broke, I ain’t gonna fix it!

What was your response to this information from the Dr. Oz episode? Have you become nervous about using loose powder mineral make-up?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. emily hope

    I love mineral makeup too, but was concerned about whether it was actually better for my skin. After I did a little research, I came to the same conclusions about the nano-particle danger – as well as the fact that it’s not usually listed in the ingredients (scary!). An eye-opening book for me was “Toxic Beauty,” which explained that *titanium dioxide* in any powder form (pressed or loose) is very toxic for our respiratory systems. And once I started looking for it, it’s in almost everything (even the higher end, organic “natural” powders). So far, the only one I’ve found that doesn’t have it is Rejuva mineral makeup. Hopefully, some of these other companies will start making changes soon! Thanks for the post 🙂
    .-= emily hope’s last blog: sweet flower . psalm 139 . personalized name print . 16×20 =-.

    • Robyn West

      This is brilliant information Emily, thanks. Have been looking for non-toxic, safe make-up for my daughter and was recommended one brand which I was going to buy today, but now I’ll look to see if it contains titanium dioxide.

    • Katie

      Hmmm, I haven’t read that book but I think I need to! I will definitely do some research in titanium dioxide! Thanks, Emily!

    • Cindy

      Toxic Beauty is insightful, for sure. Check out Epic Mineral Beauty, too. They don’t use titanium dioxide, mica, nanoparticles, bismuth oxychloride, talc, or any of that “crud.” Their packaging is cool and customer service really impressive as well.

  2. Stephanie P

    Thanks Katie! Where does one even get started trying to find out about the nano particles and whether our makeup has them?

    I’ve been using Bare Minerals/Bare Escentuals for years now and they for sure have titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. From what I’ve heard, those ingredients are the “natural” sunscreens in the makeup.

    • Katie

      Unfortunately, make-up manufacturers aren’t required to specify whether or not their products contain nano-particles, so all you can really do is ask – look on their websites, email them, etc.

  3. Siri

    I had been thinking a out switching – but I second the previous poster: how does one go about finding out this information?

    • Katie

      Siri, see above.

  4. Kara

    I’m not really of fan of putting extra stuff, like foundation or powder, on my face. My skin looks better when I don’t, since most stuff will cause me to break out. For me, my natural skin is the way to go. However, I do use sunblock…and I’d love a post on going over more natural sunblock options (hint, hint. nudge, nudge). 🙂

    • Katie

      Don’t worry, we have such a post planned for early summer! 🙂

      • Kara

        Woo!!! I can’t wait. Really. I’m in Texas and already getting sunburns, so it’ll be great when I can make the switch from my chemical-laden sunblocks. 😉

  5. Catie

    I LOVE my mineral makeup! This post was great – very informative! Thank you!
    .-= Catie’s last blog: Veggie Garden =-.

    • Casey M

      Yes, if anyone else has information about their brand (thanks to Emily about the Rejuva) I’d love to hear about it, too!
      .-= Casey M’s last blog: Tutorial Round Up =-.

    • Cindy

      Do check out Epic Mineral Beauty! No titanium dioxide, mica, nanos, bismuth, talc, gluten, etc.

  6. Valerie

    The best and most up-to-date source of info on cosmetic products is Paula Begoun’s website or the most recent edition of her book, Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. She independently (scientifically) reviews every cosmetic product out there and educates consumers about what long-name, hard-to-pronounce ingredients to avoid, rating the makeup out there as to what they truly do and whether the product’s claims are met. The cosmetics companies hate her! I truly NEVER “go to the cosmetics counter” without consulting her book first. She has some interesting things to say about mineral makeup, from what I recall.

  7. Jodi Anderson

    I didn’t see this episode of “Dr. Oz”. I have been using Mineral Fusion that I purchase at Whole Foods. I just went to their website and found out that the pressed powder contains both Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Damn. I guess that I’ll be seeking out something else to use.

    Thanks for this great information.
    .-= Jodi Anderson’s last blog: diana, rhubarb, and the family =-.

  8. Katie

    That is very dissapointing! I don’t wear makeup everyday, but I liked using the mineral make up to cover the dark circles under my eyes ( they always look terrible!)
    A good website I always check for beauty products (and many other things is Skin deep it is run by the Environmental Working Group. It rates the safety of products and companies.

  9. Hilary

    This is very interesting. Almost nothing could stop me from wearing my mineral powder (it is the only indispensable item in my make-up bag!) but it is good to be aware of these issues.

  10. Jennie L

    Does anyone else have a brand that meets these standards? (okay, I admit I’m lazy and don’t want to look myself if someone else already has!)

    This is a very informative post. Thanks!

    • Dawn

      Me, too…

  11. Cheryl

    Did Dr. Oz do scientic test to come up with this on his own or did he just read it?
    Doctors know only what they read without testing to find the facts.
    Doctors just give medications that salespeople sell to them.
    They are wrong way more times than they are correct.
    It is so seldom that you find a real doctor who actually does help you.

  12. emily hope

    I second what Katie said about checking out the Skin Deep website Their highest rated powders (or lowest in terms of toxicity) are Coastal Classic Creations and Rejuva.

    I’ve also read Paula Begoun’s books and tried her makeup, but it wasn’t nearly as “natural” as I expected, and I got the feeling from her books/website that she wasn’t exactly the disinterested third party – she has a stake in selling her products. This is the ingredient list from her pressed powder currently on her website:

    Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 7%, Zinc Oxide 8%. Other Ingredients: Talc (absorbent), Squalane (emollient), Octyldodecyl Myristate (emollient/binder), Magnesium Carbonate (absorbent mineral), Octyldodecanol (binding agent), Dimethicone (silicone slip agent), Hydrogenated Lecithin (emollient), Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate (antioxidants), Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea (preservatives). May Contain: Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides (all earth minerals used for coverage, cling and opacity),Ultramarines, Manganese Violet, Chromium Hydroxide Green, Chromium Oxide Greens (all FDA-approved pigments).
    .-= emily hope’s last blog: candlelight . psalm 27 . art print on lustre . 8×10 =-.

  13. Emily @ Live Renewed

    Thanks for this post! I was wondering about this because I saw the Dr. Oz article and was just thinking about switching to mineral makeup. I bought some organic liquid foundation but have had trouble with it giving me little red bumps around my eyes, nose and chin. I don’t wear makeup all that often, but I would like something safe, that doesn’t make my skin break out, for the times that I do wear it. Could you tell us what brand you use Katie, that doesn’t have nano-particles? The amount of different choices out there is a little overwhelming.
    .-= Emily @ Live Renewed’s last blog: It’s April! =-.

  14. Nicole aka Gidget

    Another ingredient to look out for in mineral makeup is Bismuth
    To my knowledge, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the active ingredients in the safest forms of sunscreen out there. I’ve never heard of them being toxic in mineral makeup.
    .-= Nicole aka Gidget’s last blog: Día de Pascua =-.

  15. abbie

    my goodness! I just received my colorescience sunforgettable powder that I use more for the sunscreen than for make-up. I rarely wear make-up of any kind. And I find here,, that Sunforgettable does use nano technology. They call it micronized titanium dioxide. And EWG released this interesting article,, about the pervasive use of nano-technology in cosmetic products. (The first link is actually a list of products that do use nano-particle technologies.) I just checked Burt’s Bees brand products and although they use titanium dioxide, it is not nano technology.

    Thank you so much for this post. It is a real eye opener. I am usually not a huge fan of Dr. Oz, I think he is a bit too mainstream for me personally, but I found a lot of other persuasion out there that nano-technology isn’t a good thing. And to think that I put my sunforgettable on my children who most certainly inhaled it….I am switching promptly!

  16. maryellen

    I am involved with a new mineral line “Beauty Never Sleeps” and we develop and produce our product in the USA without nano particles / micronized particles, parabens, bismuth or talc. I have been a makeup artist in the Film Industry in Los Angeles for many years and I adore makeup. I love and respect many lines out there.
    We developed this line for women who either have little to no time for makeup or for those who are very confused by the number of beauty products on the market.
    We offer 5 pieces to create a fresh and healthy look in 5 minutes. We worked hard to get a formula we were proud of and we tested it on ourselves. I love it and just wanted to share this with you.
    Thanks so much for your consideration.

  17. c. drummond

    Great article. As a creator of a line free of nanoparticles, I’m finding more and more the importance of educating the public on this technology.

    Nanoparticles are known to penetrate into the lungs when inhaled, and can potentially stay there for extended periods of time. When in a cream, it can definitely help unsafe ingredients penetrate into the body quicker and more efficiently.

    Please do your research on this technology, and ask companies if they use it!!

  18. ChristyVALENCIA24

    I would like to propose not to hold off until you get enough amount of cash to order goods! You should get the mortgage loans or just financial loan and feel yourself free

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