Bismuth Oxychloride, What is it?


Posted on June 30 2018

Bismuth Oxychloride, What is it?


Many consumers today are becoming quite savvy with educating themselves with ingredient knowledge in the search for finding less toxic products on the market.  With so many makeup options to choose from it can be over-whelming knowing which products are truly good for your skin.  Many people have switched over to utilizing more mineral based cosmetics but, are all mineral based cosmetics good for the skin and the environment?  Short answer is unfortunately a big no.  Not all mineral based makeup is created equal with optimal benefits for not only your skin but to the environment as well.  This brings todays discussion to a popular ingredient found in many mineral based cosmetic lines, Bismuth Oxychloride.  So, what is this ingredient used for exactly?  Bismuth Oxychloride is an inorganic compound of Bismuth which is a heavy and brittle metal.  Bismuth Oxychloride is a pigment found in many mineral makeups that gives the products either a shimmery or matte finish.  It also acts as a binder to help minerals adhere to the skin better.  In a nutshell it is a by-product derived from refining copper, lead, silver, gold ores and tin.  The processing of Bismuth is a long step process of refining and altering it down to its cosmetic use in products with a number of impurities that are added to the mix along the way to remove trace lead.  This then requires further testing to be sure it is deemed “safe” to use topically.  Regardless of what you may read on the label of a mineral product please be aware that Bismuth Osxychloride is by far not a natural ingredient that should be found in any makeup labeled as “Natural” or “Organic.”  It is also a widely known skin irritant.  If you have recently switched or recall a past time using a mineral based makeup that made you itch a lot or break out this ingredient may very well have been the culprit.  Its molecular structure is designed to require buffering down to get into the pores and adhere better to the skin thus clogging pores and essentially suffocating the skin creating often blackheads, whiteheads, and in extreme cases cystic acne.  In particular to those with oily or sensitive skin it’s best to avoid products containing this ingredient altogether. 


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