“Like all cosmetics, mineral-based products raise more questions about their safety than answers. Many mineral-based make-ups contain (or potentially contain) nano-size ingredients, which are 10 to 1,000 times smaller than their normally-sized counterparts and are more likely to be absorbed into the body through the skin because they’re so small. (See EWG’s research on nano-materials.)
“One recent study by the National Center for Toxicological Research found that nano-sized particles could be detected throughout the lymphatic system within minutes after being deposited in the skin of mice. And once nano-particles are absorbed by the body, studies to date suggest that they are quite damaging—for instance, they can cause emphysema-like symptoms when absorbed into the lungs and are toxic to a variety of cells. In short, it is a good idea to avoid inhaling mineral-based cosmetics—be careful to not create dust, as particles can quickly absorb deep into the lungs—and avoid using them on damaged skin where the likelihood of absorption is dramatically increased.
“As for the second part of the question, we have a limited understanding of the ingredients titanium dioxide, silica, and iron, as used in cosmetics. (Click on each ingredient to learn more about what we do know in our cosmetics database, Skin Deep.) Why don’t we know more? Because the FDA doesn’t require companies to test their own products for safety. If you think that’s ridiculous, sign our petition to the FDA urging them to set safety standards when it comes to the products we all use every day.”