Monday, October 3, 2011

Is your "natural" bronzer toxic or non-toxic?

Consumers may be spending more time and money than necessary to avoid products that are "unnatural" and, therefore unsafe. This comes to the controversy over the ingredient-bismuth oxychloride, a chemical compound found in products labeled "natural". This ingredient is popular in mineral powders, bronzers, blush, eye shadows and nail polish.

What is bismuth oxychloride and what is it used for? Bismuth oxychloride is a synthetically prepared compound derived from natural elements. Oxygen and chlorine (oxychloride) is being approved for use up to certain concentration levels in cosmetics in many products. So, the questionable element is bismuth. Bismuth is a natural metal. It's actually a non-toxic heavy metal approved for use as a color additive in cosmetics by the U.S. FDA. It is also widely used for it's ability to create a shimmery look and silky feel in addition to its ability to adhere to skin.

Why all the conflict if approved for cosmetics? Bismuth is in the same family of elements as arsenic, and thus resembles bismuth. Another concern by opposers of the compound is that it is listed in Material Safety Sheets (when handling the ingredient in the raw), that bismuth oxychloride can cause skin irritation. This may be the reason why some people feel they are sensitive to mineral powders, when it's actually this ingredient sensitizing the skin. Also, by applying the mineral powder and blushers more than twice a day to "fix up" their make-up may intensify the sensitivity.

Approved by the FDA, cosmetic consumers will continue to see bismuth oxychloride on the list of ingredients found in many make-up labels. It is up to the individual if she will continue to purchase these products with this ingredient. Persons with sensitive skin should try to avoid it. If you absolutely love your cosmetics with this ingredient in it and the side effects are of no concern, then continue with your favorite brand.

By Sandy Alcide, founder Motion Medica skin care. A division of Fitness Botanical Skin Care Co.
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