Thursday, January 14, 2010

A little rant about an article in the paper about MMU

This article from the Vancouver Province from January 8 - Not all 'mineral' makeup is equal - is bugging me, so I thought I'd rant for a moment.

"...mineral makeup is being touted as not only better than chemical-based products, but healthier, too..." Every single thing in the world is made up of chemicals. Water, air, puppy dogs, toaster ovens, and so on. You left out an adjective there like "toxic" or "horrible" or "lovely". I can assure you, every mineral make-up line out there is filled to the brim with chemicals, as is your sister, your favourite tree, and your car. (If you can find something that isn't filled with chemicals, submit it to the Royal Society of Chemists and claim your million pound prize!)

"...(insert company name here) contains 90 per cent pharmaceutical-grade ingredients and, unlike some manufacturers, never adds talc or other fillers." What's wrong with fillers? We use the word fillers to denote any ingredient in mineral make-up that isn't there for colour. Without fillers, nothing would stick or repel water or work in any way. Even the most wonderful pharmaceutical grade boron nitride or kaolin clay is, by definition, a filler. Like "chemical", filler is not a bad word! (And what does everyone have against talc?)

"Mineral makeup has to have some content of minerals, but how much is in there really varies..." and "While superior-quality mineral makeup such as (insert company names here) are as pure as possible, other brands still have fillers, binders, colouring and dyes to ensure absorbency and adhesion."

Of course the mineral content will vary! All mineral make-up products contain minerals - by definition, this is what makes them different from other types of make-up - but we could have something 100% mineral based that isn't great and something 90% mineral based that is the best thing ever!

What does "pure" mean in this context? These are random products I chose from two companies quoted in the article.

Ingredients for a foundation: Bismuth Oxychioride, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide. May contain: Iron Oxides, Manganese Violet, Carmine.

So what makes this one "pure"? The first product contains only inorganic molecules - oh, wait, carmine comes from the carmine beetle...ah, I'll let them get away with that one.

Ingredients for a finishing powder: Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Dimethicone, Phytonadione, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Zinc Stearate, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Mica. May Contain [+/-]: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides

The finishing powder quite clearly has many non-mineral ingredients - starch, phytonadione, green tea extract, tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E), retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A), ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin C), ethylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben (preservatives). In fact, the only minerals in this product are dimethicone (silicones are inorganic molecules, so we could qualify them as minerals), trimethylsiloxysilicate, zinc stearate, mica, titanium dioxide, and iron oxides. All things considered, this could contain more non-minerals than mineral! But would you say no, thanks! to botanical extracts, vitamins, oils, waxes, and other lovely things because they weren't, by definition, mineral based?

And what fillers and binders that ensure adhesion or absorbency are they talking about here? Micronaspheres, treated sericite mica, zinc stearate, titanium dioxide? Those are all fine ingredients in a mineral make-up product. I'd be worried if I found a product that contained mica and/or iron oxides only - sure, I'd get a lot of colour, but how long would it stay on and would all those iron oxides stain my skin?

"Watch for those that contain bismuth oxychloride, a safe byproduct of lead and copper processing that can cause a reaction in sensitive skin." Normally there's a little more over-reaction to bismuth oxychloride, so I was pleased to see this sentence.

I make little frustrated squeaking sounds when I see the words "chemical free" on a product, and made a few those of noises when reading this article. These things feed into the ignorance surrounding bath and body products, create urban legends, or perpetuate myths (like a woman absorbs 5 pounds of make-up per year - but do you even use 5 pounds per year?). They also seem to buy into the idea that certain companies are inherently good - usually smaller companies started by experts of some kind, like a dermatologist or (insert word here) specialist - while larger companies or small, home based companies are inherent bad in some way.

Thanks for me letting me vent!

1 comment:

Mich said...

That's a pretty lame article you found there, Susan. I suspect that the reporter's research consisted mainly of advertisements! Must of been a "slow news day"...

I think lots of people associate "filler" with not-quite-meat based hot dogs and luncheon meats!