bismuth oxychloride

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Categories:
Thickeners/Emulsifiers , Absorbent

What is bismuth oxychloride

The standard primary ingredient included in most powders that are referred to as "mineral makeup." The claim for bismuth oxychloride (which is also known as synthetic pearl) is that it is all-natural and better for skin than talc. In fact, in many ways talc is a more natural, unadulterated, pure ingredient than bismuth oxychloride. Bismuth oxychloride, which seldom occurs in nature, is manufactured by combining bismuth, a by-product of lead and copper metal refining, with chloride (chlorine compound) and water. It's used in cosmetics because it has a distinct shimmery, pearlescent appearance and a fine white powder texture that adheres well to skin. Bismuth oxychloride is heavier than talc.   Pure bismuth is a naturally occurring, grayish-white powder. It and its derivatives are used as skin protectives, thickeners, and absorbent agents. Bismuth oxychloride was permanently listed by the FDA as a coloring agent in 1977 and as a synthetic ingredient (Source: The International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook, Eleventh Edition, 2006).

Is bismuth oxychloride irritating?

Some people react to bismuth oxychloride due to its unique crystalline structure. What happens is that the crystals can "poke" at skin and get stuck in the pores, where the sharper "spokes" can cause irritation. This is more of a problem when bismuth oxychloride is the main ingredient in powder makeup.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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