How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXXVII

Let’s talk makeup!  You picking up some pressed powder in a bind after running out recently.  You go for a pressed powder from a brand you have used in the past.  You know to check the ingredients on your hair and skin products, but never really though about your makeup!  You look at the ingredients and seen some familiar ingredients, yet several that you do not recognize.  Should you be more concerned about what is in your makeup?  Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.  For instructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.

The Label


The Ingredients

Talc:  Safe!/Beware!  This ingredient is a hydrated magnesium silicate that is formed via the hydration and carbonation of magniesium containing minerals such as pyroxene, olivine, amphibole, and serpentine. Mg3Si4O10(OH)2 is the chemical formula of talc. Talc is commonly used in cosmetics as an absorbent and anti-caking agent. There have been concerns about Talc being contaminated with Asbestos, however, when tested properly the present of asbestos can be detected. Contaminated talc should not be used in cosmetics. There are also concerns about links of Talc to lung and ovarian cancer, though they have not been conclusively supported by existing scientific literature. Asbestos free Talc is not considered to be a carcinogen to humans (Classified as Group 4 “probably not carcinogenic to humans” by International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC], and A4 “not classifiable as a human carcinogen” by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists [ACGIH]). Talc is an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form and is suspected to be toxic to lungs. (MSDS)

Mica:  Safe!  Mica is a mineral that is often ground and used for its reflective and refracting properties in various cosmetics, including moisturizing lotions. In pure form it can be a slight skin and eye irritant, as well as act as a toxin to the lungs and mucous membranes. Information on carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, mutagenicity, and developmental toxicity are not available. (MSDS; MSDS)

Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate: Safe!/Beware! This ingredient is an ester derived from stearic acid and is a synthetic skin conditioning agent. Stearic acid is a fatty acid found in animal and vegetable fat. Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate is often found in foundations, eye shadows, blush, and other face makeup. It can also be used as a non aqueous viscosity increasing agent and emollient. It is not known to be a mutagen, though it can be a skin irritant. A safety study conducted by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review found that Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate was able to penetrate the skin, but not to deep layers. As of 2001, if was used on in concentrations of 2-15% (CIR). It can be a mild skin irritant.

Dimethicone: Beware!  Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer siloxane derived from silica.   They are used as a skin conditioning agent and form a protective barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from leaving or entering, which can be harmful to skin.  Dimethicone is the 5th ingredient in this product indicating its (quantity) in the formula.   (MSDS)

Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides:  Beware! This ingredient is derived from hydrogenated coconut oil and is a mixture of mono-, di-, and tri- glycerides. This ingredient is used as an emollient and skin conditioning agent. It is used in concentrations of 0.04-10% in face powders, though its concentration of use ranges from 0.01-31% in cosmetics (CIR). There is limited toxicological information available on Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, though the safety of Coconut Oil was extrapolated to define this ingredient as safe under current usage standards. No Individual MSDS.  (CIR)

PTFE:  Beware!/Avoid! Also known as polytetrafluroethylene, this ingredient is a synthetic fluropolymer of tetrafluroethylene. This ingredient is very similar to Teflon. This ingredient is used as a slip modifier, binder, bulking agent, and skin conditioning agent. This ingredient has not been reviewed for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. PTFE is listed as non-irritating and non-absorbing on skin, though it can be toxic to lungs (Editor’s Note: It should be noted that PTFE is more commonly used for industrial purposes and use on skin in cosmetics is not well studied). (MSDS; MSDS; MSDS)

Lecithin:  Safe!  Lecithin is a lipid found naturally in animals and vegetables. Lecithin contains 4 phospholipids (phosphatidyl ethanolamine, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl inositol, and phosphatidic acid. Lecithin is typically derived from soybeans, which are likely genetically modified, though sunflower (oil) or eggs can be used. Lecithin is used as an emulsifier, water binding agent, emollient, and viscosity controlling agent. It is typically used in concentrations of 0.5 to 5% by weight of a formula. This ingredient should not be paired with strong oxidizing agents. In pure form, Lecithin can be a slight skin, eye, and lung irritant. It is not known to be a carcinogen. Lecithin is considered safe in rinse off products and leave on products in concentrations of less than or equal to 15% (CIR).  Beware!  if you are averse to GMOS.  (MSDS; MSDS; CIR)

Methicone:  Beware!  This ingredient is a silicone polymer. It is typically used as a emollient, skin conditioning agent, antistatic agent, and occlusive. Like other silicones it creates a film on the skin and hair. No MSDS found. This ingredient is considered safe for use by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. (CIR)

Sodium Dehydroacetate:  This ingredient is used as a preservative, and is an antimicrobial agent. Sodium Dehydroacetate is a sodium salt of dehydroacetic acid. This ingredient is an eye, skin, and lung irritant in pure form. There is limited knowledge of additional toxicological information.  (MSDS)

Methylparaben:  Beware!  This ingredient is synthetic and acts as a preservative with anti-fungal properties.  It is naturally occurring in fruits such as blueberries as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  This ingredient is readily absorbed into skin and it along with other parabens have been at the center of controversy about its role in causing cancerous cells in breast tissue being that parabens are xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that states that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.  Methylparaben is suspected to cause DNA damage and increased skin aging when it reacts to UVB rays.  It can be a skin allergen (dermatitis) in a paraben mix.  (MSDS)

Propylparaben:  Beware!  Propylparaben is used as an anti-fungal preservative, typically in concentrations less than 1%. It is commonly synthetically produced though it is produced naturally in fruits as p-hydroxybenzoic acid.  It is readily absorbed into the skin and metabolized, and has been found in urine in limited tests.  This ingredient is readily absorbed into skin and it along with other parabens have been at the center of controversy about its role in causing cancerous cells in breast tissue being that parabens are xenoestrogens (mimic estrogen).  There is not conclusive proof that demonstrates that use of personal care products containing parabens causes cancer.  It can be a skin allergen (dermatitis) in a paraben mix. (MSDS)

May Contain:
Iron Oxides:  Safe! There are 16 known Iron Oxides, which are chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen. They are typically used in cosmetics as pigments, though this ingredient may be in this product as a contaminant. In pure form, Iron Oxides can be irritants to eyes, skin, and lungs. It is not known to be a carcinogen. (MSDS)

Titanium Dioxide: Safe!  Also known as CI 77891, this is a white pigment used for various applications. In pure form Titanium Dioxide is a potential human carcinogen when inhaled. Its health impacts are dependent on size (i.e. nanoparticles), based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It should be fine to use in this topical product.  (MSDS)



Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  Makeup is a new realm we have not delved much into, but expect more on makeup in the future!  There are multiple ingredients in this product that are questionable.  Some ingredients are not my favorite in hair and skin products but are allowable, however, products you apply to your face and leave on your skin should be reviewed more carefully.  This product contains 2 types of silicones and parabens, which is not ideal, however, the shocker in this product is “PTFE.”  Most people will not recognize PTFE on a label, but they would recognize TEFLON.  Teflon?  Teflon?!  In makeup?!  Though none of the MSDS said it was a hazard on skin, something about teflon in makeup is problematic.  Pass on this pressed powder, just make sure what you buy doesn’t have similar ingredients!

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