Cosmetic mineral foundations on shaky ground

‘New-look’ foundations not as natural as they claim

CHOICE says mineral foundations – marketed as being a more natural alternative to regular make up - contain many of the same chemicals found in liquid or powder foundations.

Of the 14 mineral foundations tested by CHOICE triallists, ten contained bismuth oxychloride, a synthetic ingredient that is a by-product of lead, tin and copper refining. It is used to give the skin a sheen that camouflages lines and wrinkles.

The triallists reported 21 cases of skin irritation and 11 cases of eye irritation across different brands, most of which contained bismuth. Other ingredients include titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica and iron oxides.

“Mineral foundations are enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame right now – despite having been around since the 1970s – and are marketed as being better for the skin than regular foundations,” said CHOICE spokesperson Elise Davidson.

“But really, they’re just an alternative to liquid or powder foundation, with most of the mineral foundations containing the same sort of ingredients as any other make-up base. Most are certainly not any more natural or pure than the alternatives.”

Two of the products also contained nanoparticles, used in some sunscreens and make up but not currently required to be labelled under Australian regulations.

Some experts CHOICE spoke to expressed concern about the use of nanotechnology in these products, particularly because the mineral foundations are in powder form.

CHOICE says comprehensive safety testing should be required, as well as mandatory product labelling to ensure consumers know when they are using products containing nanoparticles.

The triallists reported that on average mineral foundations lasted 5-8 hours on the skin, with most of the products tested scoring between 50-80% overall.

The products ranged in price from $115 to $19.90, including the applicator brush, which can cost as much or more than the make-up itself.

Triallists reported “dust clouds” during application and complained about the powder getting in their eyes, ears and mouths.

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30 Sep 2009 | Mineral foundation is marketed as a more natural alternative to other foundations and usually contains finely crushed, naturally occurring minerals. But our investigation found it's not as natural as you'd think.


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