Friday, February 5, 2010

Dr. Oz- the great Mis-informer!

Many of you may have seen, or heard, of the recent show of Dr. Memhet Oz regarding mineral makeup. Or, perhaps you are familiar with him from his guest appearances on the Oprah Winfery show.

In his capacity as a physician, Dr. Oz has declared powdered, mineral makeup as hazardous to women's health. He further claims minerals should be avoided in favor of liquid or cream based makeup, as all mineral makeup contains nano particles, which cause damage to the alveoli in the lungs when inhaled. While I can certainly respect Dr. Oz's preference for liquid or cream based makeup, I cannot say the same about his OPINION of the hazards of mineral makeup, or his "research" of the subject matter.

My first, and primary reason, for issue with doctor Oz, is simply that all mineral makeup does not contain nano particles. Yes, some do, Mine do not, and never will.

First we need to understand exactly what a nano particle is. Mineral makeup is just one of many substances measured in microns/micrometers or mesh- 1/64th of an inch =615 microns, 1 micron = 1 millionth of a meter & a nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter. These are standard units of measurement, derived by calculating the particle's diameter.
coarse= particles with an average diameter of less than 10 microns
fine= particles with an average diameter of less than 2.5 microns
ultrafine or nano = particles with an average diameter of less than .1 microns or less than 100 nm
The general scientific thought is that particles at:
.07 microns can enter lung alveoli
.05 microns may enter cells
.03 Microns may enter Central Nervous System
<.02 no Data yet

The Titanium Dioxide (Tio2) I use in my products is 1-1.7 microns, with an average micron size of 1.5. The Zinc Oxide I use is .31 microns. Both would qualify as "Fine". White or colored micas are in another category and usually don't fall below the 10 micron size. In mica the lower the micron size the more matte, the higher the micron size the more sparkly it becomes. The opposite is true in base ingredients- the nano particles are more translucent, while still offering SPF properties inherent in Titanium Dioxide & Zinc Oxide. This is why many cosmetic companies do choose to use nano particles, to offer SPF in sunscreens or in otherwise SPF devoid products- like untinted moisturizers & other makeup in which Tio2 or Zinc are merely colorants rather than base ingredients. (An indication of this could be if they are listed under May Contain as colorants, rather than in the main ingredients portion of the cosmetic label, as per FDA labeling regulations.)

Though the FDA is certainly not helping, by having no clear cut, or ,at least ineffectual listing, nomenclature, or categorization of ingredients.
This is from the National Geographic's Green Guide site:

"Micronized" doesn't necessarily mean "nanoparticles." Both terms have to do with the sizes of particles: Microns are one millionth of a meter, while nanometers (nm) are one billionth of a meter. Basically, 1,000 nm = 1 micron. The confusion over terminology has to do with the fact that the FDA has set no actual definition for the term "micronized" when used in reference to personal care products. Some companies use the term "micronized" to describe particles that are measured in microns, while other companies use it to describe particles that undergo what the dictionary defines as "reducing to particles of only a few microns in diameter." Since the FDA has no set definition, some companies misleadingly advertise nano-sized particles (particles measured in billionths of a meter) as "micronized" (particles measured in millionths of a meter), which is why we feel it's important to ask for specific particle sizes when you're purchasing a product that contains either "micronized" or "nanoparticle" ingredients. The manufacturers we spoke with for this article assured us that their micronized products do in fact use micron-sized, and not nano-sized, ingredients.

Emily Main

Green Guide Associate Editor

Now, Dr. oz is not wrong in that nano particles have for some time been suspected of having negative health implication, and yet lumping all minerals in the dangerous category is certainly not going to be helpful in discussing the very REAL concern involving this one aspect of the industry.

Another compelling reason I feel Dr. Oz is not an accurate authority, and lacks the credibility on the topic of nano particles is that, he completely ignored a second, and equally important property and that is, that nano particles, when buffed or rubbed onto the skin, are suspected, not proven mind you, but suspected to be small enough to actually travel through the pores of the skin, and be absorbed into the blood stream. These metals, yes they are oxidized metals-though not toxic like lead or arsenic, can be absorbed into your blood stream. Since our bodies are not equipped to filter these out, initial research shows that they can build up in secondary organs, and that cannot be healthy. Again, these are nano particles only. Here is a link to an interview with a scientist currently conducting research, again addressing solely nano particles in cosmetic applications.

I have had the opportunity to use an electron microscope, as he mentions in this interview. An electron microscope utilizes slide samples that are one cell layer in thickness, therefore determining the ability of a substance to pass through cell layers or pores using this technology would be easy, and most likely very accurate.

Another, overlooked potential hazard with nano-particulate matter is it's apparent UV reactivity, as noted in the following passage from Occasional Paper Series, vol 7, no1, April 2003
The Presumption of Innocence II – the case of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide:
Possibly the most ubiquitous use of nanoparticles todate is in cosmetics. Larger particles of titanium
dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) have been used in sunscreens for decades since they both
effectively scatter light including harmful UV rays. They act as physical “blockers” or “reflectors”
giving sunscreens an opaque, white appearance. However, if the crystals are reduced to the
nanoscale, both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide lose their characteristic white colour and become
transparent, allowing visible light to pass but still blocking UV rays. Taking advantage of this
nanoscale property change, companies including BASF and L’OrĂ©al have created transparent
sunscreens and UV-resistant cosmetics incorporating these metal oxide nanoparticles.25
Unfortunately, transparency isn’t the only change associated with these nanosized metal oxides.
While both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are generally considered inert in their larger form,
nanoparticles of both substances can be highly photo-reactive in the presence of UV light, which is
partially absorbed into the particle.26 As a result, nano-titanium dioxide, for example, can exert a
“strong oxidizing power that attacks organic molecules”27 and can produce free radicals (i.e.,
unstable fragments of molecules that are highly reactive).
You can read the full paper in the link below.

Last night, at an event promoting my makeup line, this viral video was broached. I cannot pretend that this will not adversely affect my business. Which is precisely why I felt the need to respond- the small boutique formulators, as a group, tend to follow closely to FDA regulations, Choose the safer, organic, or more natural ingredients, and generally try to be more conscientious with what we put in our products. I believe in full disclosure- every ingredient I use is listed on a page at my website, as well as the label. Yes, there are those that don't, and the large cosmetics corporations certainly have no need to pay attention to anything but profit margin if they choose- the fines are a pittance compared to what they make on the newest and latest "magic" ingredient; but what Dr. Oz may not realize, is that with this irresponsible reporting, he could potentially put out of business the very people who are trying to do it better, healthier, and safer.

As for nano particles The research is still being conducted, and much more needs to be definitively proven, before ANY hard and fast conclusions can be determined, but this is also the reason why most of the mineral cosmetic formulators I know, myself included, choose not to include nano-particle ingredients in our makeup- Until it is effectively proven safe, I cannot, and will not expose my clients to potentially hazardous material. That would be as unethical as giving unsubstantiated advice.

a mmu formulator & friend Donna Standridge
another formulator & friend Val of Valana Minerals

More info on nano particles & potential hazard:


  1. Karrie ~ as a fellow Indie Business member and mineral cosmetic company owner, feel we small businesses trying to make a difference stand up to the misinformation. Thank you for this concise explanation of particle size and safety. Kudos.

  2. Wow. No one can say YOU do not do your homework, research and safety checks for the obviously high-quality products you manufacture. I suggest you send this to Dr. Oz. Who knows? He may edit his remarks and give you a plug in the process. Surely he wants to be reasonable, if not informed.

  3. Dr Oz's information is definitely COARSE.
    Dr Weil is finer:

  4. The original Nivea Creme was made in Germany, and even now, the "German-made" version is considered the best in both ingredients and overall quality. The reviews on MakeupAlley swear up and down that there is a difference between "German Nivea" and "Mexican Nivea". In the field of comparative genomics, one analyzes the amino acid sequences of various homologous proteins to compare divergence, and from there, extrapolates their evolutionary distance. Basically, if two separate but similar species diverged relatively recently, one would expect to see that their amino acid sequences are very similar; if they diverged a long time ago, they would have a great number of differences in their proteins. I'm applying this same principle here. There may, after all, be some truth to the notion that there's a huge difference between the German and Mexican Niveas.

  5. do you know of a sunscreen that is non greasy and natural and free of nano particles i am kinda confused on all this and i would like to buy something that is non greasy since i have acne,thanks you seem to know what you are talking

  6. Anna- The most highly rated- ( by the environmental working group) non-nanoparticulate sunscreen was Solar Sense w/ green tea for face spf 45. Some other highly rated sunscreens that are both natural and effective are Avalon Organics, Soleo Organic, Blistex (lip protection) and Tatoo Goo. The commercial brand that I found listed as having no nano's was Bullfrog- made by Chattem, Inc- however I don't know if that is only 1 style, or their whole line. as to being non-greasy, unfortunately that would be a personal opinion, however I can say that I do not find any of the Avalon organics products to ever be greasy. Hope this helps!

  7. Sun Putty...all natural, no synthetics, 1 to 10 micron zinc oxide, no added water, alcohol or petrolatum....rated very good with EWG and Skin Deep...,_SPF_30/?prod_id=268218

  8. This is something great because Dr OZ always have something interesting to show us, I-ve gotten excellent information with his programs.

  9. This Blog is going places, the people, the layout, amazing to see such dedication and focus.

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