Got Bad Skin? I’ve Got Bad News.

If you have a skin condition like rosacea and/or acne, you may know there are lots of ingredients you should avoid in your facial products.  Anything that says “oil” is generally advisable to avoid if you have acne.  Any known irritant should be avoided if you have rosacea or otherwise sensitive skin.  But how much do you know about bismuth? 

What is It?  Bismuth is an element on the periodic table.  By itself, it’s not safe.  At all. It’s actually commonly found as a byproduct of mineral refining!  However, when combined with other elements, it becomes a “safe” product additive.  The most common ingredient you’ll see in makeup products is bismuth oxychloride.

Other Ingredient Names:  BASIC BISMUTH CHLORIDE; BISMUTH CHLORIDE OXIDE; BISMUTH SUBCHLORIDE; BISMUTHINE, CHLOROOXO; BISMUTHINE, CHLOROOXO-; BISMUTHYL CHLORIDE; CHLORBISMOL; CHLOROOXO- BISMUTHINE; CHLOROOXOBISMUTHINE; CI 77163; PEARL SUPER SUPREME

Why is It in Makeup?  Bismuth (oxycholride, usually) is added as a filler.  Also, it’s a “pearlizing” agent that gives a natural glow to makeup products.  It’s smooth texture improves the feel of makeup, and can help with adhesion.

Why Would I Want to Avoid It? 

1.  It can be an irritant.  It’s been identified as a possible cause of worsening acne and rosacea.

2. Heavy metal toxicity.  There are – of course – limits to how many parts per million are allowed by the United States Food & Drug Administration, but in the event that the ingredient contained all of the allowable amounts and you were using multiple products with the maximum amounts, it could add up to health problems.

3.  Many of the suppliers of this ingredient are based in China.  China has a bad record when it comes to product safety and often refuses/resists allowing in outside inspections by foreign entities like the U.S. FDA.

The Good News:  Many companies have determined that bismuth is a less-than-ideal additive for their products and you can find stuff that doesn’t contain it.

FYI:  Brands that I know don’t contain bismuth as a wide-ranging policy:   Ferro Cosmetics, Australian-based Naked Cosmetics, Purely Cosmetics, Beauty Bliss Cosmetics, and others.  There are plenty of companies out there.  Unfortunately, you’re not going to find any all-bismuth-free product lines at your local drugstore – probably not even at your favorite beauty store.

Up to You:  It’s long been my contention that it’s impossible to avoid everything that might be bad for you.  However, if you have sensitive, irritated, or acne-prone skin, you might start checking the ingredients list and avoid products that contain bismuth.

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