By Cleo Bergman
Photo courtesy of Matt Trostle.
In Food Rules, author Michael Pollan states a comprehensive principle for items we should not eat: “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.”
Many of us have heard some variation of this “rule” in regards to our food choice. Some of us even apply it to our skincare regimen, extending it to our choice of makeup. While the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for “monitoring programs for pathogens, natural toxins, pesticides, and other contaminants” in our foods, they do not have the authoritative capacity to test, regulate, or approve of cosmetic products before they go to market.
As consumers, we could attempt to memorize the numerous, complicated names of bad ingredients to wean out the unhealthy products. However, it also helps to understand which ingredients are actually good for your skin, and why that is.
Among the many brands of makeup, mineral makeup has become a popular alternative to traditional types due to its natural, inorganic (non-plant based) ingredients that are beneficial for health and cosmetic reasons. Some main ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are included because of their sun blocking properties. Other minerals are included for their ease of application, such as boron nitride, which gives the skin a smooth, natural finish due to its adhesiveness. Bismuth oxychloride, meanwhile, absorbs the oils in the face and improves overall coverage.
Because the ground particles have a light consistency, the minerals sit on top of the skin. In comparison, traditional makeup properties tend to become absorbed by the skin, which can cause long-term damage.
Organic makeup is another healthy option due to its botanic ingredients. Plant parts are extracted or ground into a powder to form its necessary components. For hydration and soothing elements, aloe extract is used for its known history of skin-healing properties. Instead of artificial preservatives, ingredients such as pine bark and pomegranate extract work as natural preservatives. On top of their inherent antioxidant features, they protect the skin from damage and aging, and even work as a sunscreen.
Of course, not all makeup is made perfect. For an easy way to investigate the nature of your makeup, check out EWG’s Skin Deep database to read the health evaluations of various cosmetic products and their ingredients.