Mineral Makeup and Nano Particles

Back in the 1970’s when the FDA approved many minerals for use as pigments in cosmetics they were virtually the only ingredients found in those cosmetics. For the most part they contained little more than zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, mica and iron oxides.

On the positive side powders in general tend to have less irritants, less preservatives, less oils and less surfactants. As a consequence the powdered mineral cosmetics were less likely to irritate your skin and plug your pores.

Today one has to read their labels carefully. There is no set definition for the term “mineral makeup”. Any product that contains minerals as a primary ingredient may be touted as such but may contain some unhealthy chemicals.

There are concerns arising with the regard to the size of the particles in Mineral Cosmetics and Sunscreens. Some powders are made up of micron sized particles that may be inhaled during application. (A micron is equal to one-millionth of a meter).Other mineral makeups contain nano particles which recent research show may cause health risk. (A nano particle is 1 billionth of a meter). One such study has shown that titanium particles ranging from 826 nanometers to 2368 nanometers might enter the brain causing oxidative stress. (0.826 microns to 2.368 microns) While it is unlikely that these small particles are able to pass the skin barrier they are also able to penetrate deep in the lungs.

Most mineral makeup companies have kept their particle size larger in order to retain their light reflecting properties. (the smaller the particle, the smoother the effect).  DIY Cosmetics LLC does not sell any powders that fall into this nano particle range. (under 2.3 microns). There is still the issue around breathing in the micron particle sized powders on a daily basis and we recommend keeping this in mind when in contact with the powders and how they are dispensed.  Our powder pots with sponges are an excellent way to keep the powders from getting airborne along with our powder dispensing brush. Here is a breakdown of the particle sizes for your reference. Adding a binder and/or pressing your powders will also help keep particles from becoming airborne.

Here is a general reference to particle sizes for different components of mineral makeup.

Oxides and Lakes: over 100 microns

Micas:10-150 microns (anything over 150 microns is not approved by the FDA for cosmetic use on the face)

Ultra Fine Mica: 5-25 microns

Micronized Zinc and Titanium: Less than 10 microns

Water dispersible Titanium 120 microns


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