Is mineral make-up, toxic make-up?

(RNN) – It is one of the hottest trends in cosmetics, 'natural make-up.' The commercials claim it can help your skin. It is a big investment, so, is this all hype or does it really work? Another consideration, is this make-up really toxic?

The ads are everywhere: "Gentle to the skin." Mineral make-up products, without the harsh chemicals, made with natural ingredients from the Earth. "A revolution in make-up." However, mineral make-up is really nothing new.

The ancient Egyptians used ground up copper and lead. And, from the free-love era of the 60's came the commercial evolution of mineral makeup, as Earth-loving hippies ditched the dyes and preservatives for natural, finely ground minerals from the Earth.

But is natural necessarily good for you? "I think we need to be aware," cautions Dr. Hugo Montenegro, Pulmonary Specialist, University Hospital.

One of the main concerns for doctors is inhaling the tiny particles from some minerals. In high levels, "the little particles, fibers, get into the perhipheral, the small parts of the lungs and irritates cells," according to Dr. Montenegro.

Loose powder mineral makeup boasts full coverage like a foundation. But consumer watch-dog, the Environmental Working Group says these nano-particles -- could be damaging when absorbed by the body -- even causing emphysema-like symptoms when they get into the lungs.

Two minerals of greatest concern are Bismuth Oxychloride, which gives you that pearly glow, which is actually a by-product of lead refining, and Mica, which is dangerous to inhale in high levels and why miners and construction workers use masks for protection. "Because of the marketing, and the growth, everybody's on the bandwagon," said Barbara Fazio, make-up artist and owner of B. Fazio Salon in Lakewood.

She suggests liquid mineral makeup over the loose powder, "because health concerns aside, the loose powder is not for everyone." "You have to be careful about applying a powder as a base because it tends to be drying and of course, show the wrinkles and irritating."

Fazio is not concerned about working with mineral makeup herself and she is skeptical of the anti-mineral critics. "Who's making the claims? Is it a competitor making the complaint?"

But if you are concerned, experts say read the labels, or consider sticking to the liquid form.  As always, buyer beware, because looking beautiful is not always pretty.

"The lowdown on mineral make-up," click here.

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