I’m writing a brief note to try to help mineral makeup users understand the data that they are seeing on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. It is very confusing, even for those of us who have been doing this for years. If you’re not familiar with the Campaign, it was designed to create healthy standards for cosmetics in the U.S., since our industry is underegulated. Unfortunately, the information and studies used to create the hazard ratings are oftentimes wholly unrelated to the usage of the ingredients, thereby making the data completely useless, and actually faulty.

Many of the studies quote animal testing, which I find painful to read at best. The Campaign states that it does not support animal testing, yet it quotes study after study in which very tiny animals (rats, mice, and rabbits) have ingredients injected or fed to them, that then make them sick. I believe that quoting these studies in and of itself, is an implicitly implied support of animal testing, in complete opposition of the Campaigns public statement against such testing.

Here are some specific errors that I find in the tabulation of evidence. I used zinc oxide as my example:

1. Inclusion of other minerals in the list: Several of the quoted studied referred to ‘zinc compounds’, instead of zinc oxide. Zinc compounds are not the same as zinc oxide and should not be included.

2. Tacking manufacturing practices onto the end user (end user being Monave in this case): This is especially evident as it relates to ecological concerns that are raised, ie, that if large quantities of zinc oxide are dumped into waterways, that contamination and degradation of wildlife occurs. This is the case with any ingredient dumped into waterways. For example, in Baltimore, there is runoff from yards, and farms into our Bay, and that runoff includes fertilizers. It doesn’t matter if they’re natual, or synthetic, the concentrations of fertilizers, combines with warm water in the summer, creates an overgrowth of algae, called an algae bloom. Then all of the fish go belly up, because there isn’t enough air for them to breathe. Is the fertilizer at fault? No, it’s a multitude of factors that cause this problem. So people fertilizing their lawn, and the manufacturers are not at fault, it’s lack of public legislation that would prevent and control these factors. So, back to zinc oxide, what would prevent contamination of aquatic life would be legislation prohibiting manufacturers of mineral compounds, and mining companies, from having access to waterways for waste removal.

3. Testing that uses routes of entry unrelated to normal consumption of end product: One of the studies quoted this as a concern

Developmental/reproductive toxicity

type of concern product conditions reference
One or more animal studies show developmental effects at high doses

It begs these questions:

How was a high dose administered? Was it injected into a rat? Was it fed to a mouse? Do we eat it, or inject it into our veins? It’s placed on our skin, and doesn’t absorb. That’s the beauty of minerals is that they don’t absorb, as do carbon-based ingredints. That’s the main reason why mineral makeup is easy on people with allergies, because it sits on the skin as opposed to entering into it.

So if a poor mouse in a lab who weighs a few ounces developed problems from high doses of zinc oxide injected or fed to it, how high of an amount would you have to consume to have those results, and if you apply a mineral makeup with zinc oxide in it to your face, does that have anything realistically connected to such data?

4. Quoting industrial inhalation risks as a concern for end users: This relates back to point number 2, in that industrial inhalation can cause cancer. As far as I know, any large inhalation of dust particles will cause lung disease. There is a litany of them. Again, this points back specifically to the regulation of the chemicals production industry itself. There are strict regulations concerning allowable levels of  particulates (dust) in a workplace. Proper ventilation is required, as are personal items, such as masks. If a company is not following these procedures, there are consequences that can be enforced by the regulating agencies, whose job it is to check on manfucturers.

So, the documentation in the Skin Deep database implies that if Monave Mineral Makeup contains zinc oxide, then our products are connected to cancer. No so. You cannot get cancer from putting your makeup on each day, and my lab has an industrial ventilator that control our particulate levels to maintain a healthy work environment.

That data needs to be tacked onto the manufacturers of said minerals.

If you’re still reading this, you are a dedicated learner. Please feel free to comment. In summary, while the goal of the Safe Campaign and Skin Deep are laudable, the data base itself is faulty, and many of the small companies that were with the campaign from its inception have signed off, and will no longer support the efforts. I for one, hope that someone knowledgeable in this industry, will begin to sift through the data,  and either explain it to the cusomters browsing the site, or remove erroneous, or unrelated studies.



  • carol

    Thank you for your take in this. I do follow the Safe Campaign and although I am glad they are here to help us its nice to see someone explain to me a view point that makes me feel better. I love minerals and it bothers me to see the small business owner lose business for faulty information. I do hope that the Safe Compaign will work on revising their information.

  • Diane Peterson

    I am beginning to wonder if Safe Cosmetics Campaign, Skin Deep, EWG are more about regulation and Less about education? My company signed up with skin deep database but now, as you stated in your article, ingredients in the Foundation look like it can cause cancer. We need to begin a strong effort to get more education on mineral makeup from skin deep.

  • Teporah

    The idea of regulation makes sense, but how are they regulating when it’s a hazard safety data report that doesn’t address usage and point of entry? It’s about as useless as a cart without a horse in my opinion…perhaps even dangerous, since it mis-educates caring consumers

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