Bismuth Oxychloride: Separating Fact from Fiction!
Mineral Hygienics is NOT made with Bismuth Oxychloride. Why does this matter?
Does this situation sound familiar?
If it doesn't — consider yourself lucky!
You've worn traditional makeup for years. You had very little or no irritation. After hearing about the benefits of mineral makeup, you decide to give it a try. It is supposed to be so much better for your skin and healthier overall, so what's the risk? You make your first purchase and start wearing it immediately.
Except... you're having a reaction you've never had before to makeup. Your skin may be itching, irritated, red, having small bumps, pustules, burning or looking swollen. A few weeks later you have acne. What is this? How can mineral makeup cause such an extreme reaction?
That reaction is likely caused by the ingredient bismuth oxychloride. While bismuth oxychloride is a common ingredient in both traditional and mineral makeup, problems with the ingredient have surface in mineral makeup because it is made with much higher concentrations. There are a lot less fillers in mineral makeup as compared to traditional cosmetics (talc, mineral oil, aluminum powder, alcohols and parabens), so the few ingredients left, most times including bismuth oxychloride, make up more of the recipe.
What Is Bismuth Oxychloride?
Bismuth oxychloride is an inorganic white pigment. If you look on the periodic table of elements, you'll notice plain old bismuth with an atomic number of 83. The symbol is Bi. It neighbors lead, tin, antimony and polonium on the periodic table. Heavy Metals.
Bismuth does occur naturally in the earth, but in very small amounts. Most of the bismuth produced in the USA is as a by-product from
refining lead, tin, copper, silver and gold ores. Bismuth without refinement is not safe for use in cosmetics. To make it safe it must be refined and combined with other elements to produce bismuth oxychloride. Certainly not "Natural" as most companies claim.
Once the bismuth has been collected, it is further refined
through several stages to remove dangerous elements like lead. Then it is chlorinated, which gives us bismuth chloride (BiCl3). In this stage it still poses a dangerous risk, smelling of hydrochloric acid
. When bismuth chloride is combined with water, it decomposes and part of the chlorine is replaced by oxygen from the water. This process is called hydrolysis and the end result is Bismuth Oxychloride.
Is It Safe To Use?
The FDA has approved bismuth oxychloride as a safe product to use in products for the face, eyes, lips and nails. Not only is it very common, but it is a very popular
ingredient in both traditional and mineral makeup.
However, skin irritation from bismuth oxychloride is not unusual. According the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for bismuth oxychloride, there is a risk
of it being a potential irritant to humans when it comes in contact with the skin or eyes.
When bismuth oxychloride is purchased from countries with less stringent laws the chance for health risks are increased.
So, it is important that companies spend a little more money and buy from highly regulated countries, like the US and Canada.
Why Is Bismuth Oxychloride Used In Makeup?
Is it used in makeup because it gives the makeup a silky feel & has good slip
(this means it applies well to the skin) and good adhesion, which helps it stay on your skin. It feels smooth and silky when rubbed between the fingers. It is often described as a lustrous crystalline powder. It refracts
and that helps draw attention away from, and camouflage, fine lines, wrinkles and minor discolorations. A great selling point for makeup! This all sounds great, but is it? Below we are going to break down these so called "benefits" of bismuth oxychloride to provide further insight on why it is used.
- Silky & Good Slip
When you touch bismuth oxychloride it feels silky smooth and most consumers love the feel of silky smooth! When you look at bismuth oxychloride on a microscopic level, it has a crystalline shape. It has sharp edges and as you apply it on your face it makes tiny micro cuts and scrapes in your skin. It has good slip or adhesion because in theory it ruffs up your skin, cuts you and basically lodges its self into you. Most likely this is why so many people have irritation from bismuth. Imagine how many consumers worldwide that do not have any irritation problems, but are still probably hurting the skin.
- Light Refracting
As we mentioned above, when light is refracted from your face it helps hide your flaws. This is the 2nd major reason why companies need bismuth oxychloride in their minerals. They have not figured out how to properly formulate a mineral makeup that will actually cover up your flaws. So instead they are using a potentially harmful product to trick you from seeing your flaws which in the end works very well to hide imperfections and make you look good. In the long run I can't imagine this being good for your skin.
Why doesn't Mineral Hygienics need Bismuth Oxychloride?
The answer is quite simple:
We figured out how to make a better product using fewer ingredients
and this is why we have such a loyal following. To learn more about our minerals and what we did to create a better product Click