- Categories: Coloring Agents/Pigments
Barium sulfate is an inorganic salt that occurs in nature. As a cosmetic ingredient, the synthetic form is used so as to avoid sulfuric acid impurities that can irritate skin. It works to opacify products, such as creams and lotions but is used extensively in non-aqueous makeup products such as lipsticks, blush, and mascaras, as it helps extend the longevity of cosmetic pigments, plus apply its own “coloration” similar to how titanium dioxide adds whiteness.
Barium sulfate may play a role in skin barrier recovery by preventing water loss from skin’s uppermost layers.
In 2018, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board revisited the safety of barium sulfate as used in cosmetics, where amounts range from 0.99%-37% in either rinse-off or leave-on products. The Board determined barium sulfate is safe and non-sensitizing provided it’s formulated to be non-irritating (meaning the finished ingredient does not contain irritating salts from sulfuric acid). As the synthetic form of barium sulfate is what’s available for use in cosmetics, there is, quite literally, no need to be concerned that it might irritate skin; however, as with any cosmetic ingredient, an individual allergic reaction could still occur (although this is considered rare).
References for this information:International Journal of Toxicology, November 2018, pages 5S-11S
British Journal of Dermatology, September 2004, pages 557-564
See titanium dioxide
About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!