Is Foundation Powder Bad for My Lungs?

K is concerned…As I was applying my loose mineral foundation, and it occurred to me that I was inhaling these fine particles daily. Is this ok for my lungs? Is there any research or testing done on the effects of inhaling these powders daily? Thank you for your help! If it matters- my Coastal Scents foundation contains: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides, Rice Powder, Zinc Oxide, Boron Nitride,Magnesium Myristate, Kaolin Clay, Ultramarine Blue. (They readily list the ingredients on every product they sell. I appreciate that!)

The Right Brain calms K:

You’re right to be concerned about the effects of chemicals that enter your body, K, but in this case there is research that indicates foundation powders are safe for every day use.

Foundation power peril?

There are really two questions here: Do the particles enter your lungs and if they do, are they dangerous? The first question can be answered by looking at particle size. Inhalation is basically a function of size: large particles can’t get into the sensitive areas of your lungs. The general rule of thumb is that particles have to be below 10 microns before they can work their way into your lungs. (For those of you who are metric impaired, a micron is a millionth of a meter. In other words its very very very tiny.)

Here’s why: According the National Institute of Health, our respiratory system is pretty good at keeping airborne particles out of our lungs. The upper respiratory system, consisting of the nasal passages, trachea, and associated airways are good filters. Particles 100 microns or larger don’t really enter the airways at all. Particles between 10 and 100 microns get caught on nasal hairs, nasal mucosa, or mucus-covered ciliated epithelium in the bronchi and bronchioles. It’s the stuff thats smaller 10 microns that are able to travel into the alveolar ducts sacs where respiration takes place.

What size are powders used in makeup?

According to a typical source of cosmetic powders, mica is somewhere in the range of 10 to 60 microns. So there’s little chance it will penetrate deep enough into your lungs to pose a threat. Particles of titanium dioxide, on the other hand, are only about 0.30 microns in diameter which means they are small enough to be inhaled. But that doesn’t automatically mean it presents a health hazard. According the the Annals of Occupational Hygeine, Tio2 has been studied and found not to present an inhalation danger, even in large quantities Similar results were found for zinc oxide, another common ingredient with a particle size of about 0.12 microns.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

There is research done to ensure that cosmetic powders don’t post a health hazard so there’s not much to be worried about from using foundation powder. If you have specific health concerns our legal eagle, Bird Brain, would encourage you to consult your physician. Or you could just cover your face with one of the stylish hats shown in today’s picture while you apply your foundation powder.

What do YOU think? Are you worried about breathing the cosmetics you use every day? Leave a comment for the rest of the Beauty Brains community.