This past week, Oprah's Dr. Oz tried to increase his ratings by bashing Mineral Makeup as one of the most dangerous forms of color cosmetics. His basic concern was the inhalation hazard. Umm. OK. I'm going to set that one to the side for now and ask, "Hey, Dr. Oz, how about taking a look at the newest trend on QVC, which is color cosmetics made with fruit and vegetable pigments?" Can we say "not-FDA approved and at risk for bacterial growth"?
Loose powder mineral makeup is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but the use of fruits and vegetables to pigment cosmetics sure ain't. The FDA strictly regulates color additives and their approved uses in cosmetics. Per the FDA, the definition of a color additive is a follows (source: Sec 201)
(t)(1) The term "color additive" means a material which—
(A) is a dye, pigment, or other substance made by a process of synthesis or similar artifice, or extracted, isolated, or otherwise derived, with or without intermediate or final change of identity, from a vegetable, animal, mineral, or other source, and
(B) when added or applied to a food, drug, or cosmetic, or to the human body or any part thereof, is capable (alone or through reaction with other substance) of imparting color thereto; except that such term does not include any material which the Secretary, by regulation, determines is used (or intended to be used) solely for a purpose or purposes other than coloring.
I just got off the phone with Naomi Richfield-Fratz in the cosmetic division of the FDA (email her at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Naomi confirmed for me that the cosmetic industry is largely self-regulating with regard to the ingredients used, except that the color components are strictly regulated. If a company states that their COLOR comes from non-approved ingredients, then they are flat out not in compliance with the FDA and are subject to a warning letter, fines, and possibly seizure of their products.
More importantly than the letter of the law, however, let's take a look at the ingredients in a sampling from this company, 100% Pure which describes their products as "the first and only cosmetics colored from antioxidant rich fruit and vegetable pigments".
Fruit Pigmented Vanilla Eyeshadow: Ingredients: Organic Rice Starch, Pigments of Organic Carrot, Squash, Organic Apricot, Organic Peach, Papaya and Organic Tomato, Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Organic Lavender, Organic Rosehip OIl3, Organic Avocado Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter, Vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), Mica (natural shimmery mineral.
Sounds lovely and edible. But where is the preservative? As the FDA's Richfield-Fratz said to me on the phone, "I'd be worried about bacterial growth in a cosmetic which uses food or fruit juice for coloring."
Look, I'm not a 100% Pure hater. What I am a hater of is that because the 100% Pure product is on QVC, my customers are coming to me and asking why they can't use organic fruit juice to color their handmade natural cosmetics.
Just the other day I was contacted by a vendor which offered me an exciting new line of "100% natural pigments from plant extracts" made to be "effective natural colouring agents" to bring "a touch of natural colour to your makeup products". When I asked the vendor: how can you sell these given the FDA Regs, the response was: "These are not classified as colorants – only color enhancing extracts".
When I asked Richfield-Fratz at the FDA if there was a special designation or exemption for "Color enhancing extracts" she laughed.
The best she and I could come up with was that the European Union has a different list of what is approved, and perhaps these products are approved in the EU. This is something I'll have to investigate.
In the meantime, she confirmed that the FDA is a complaint-driven organization and their first step would be a simple letter to the violator asking them to cease and desist. But she admitted nothing might happen at all until there is "an incident".
Well, that's all I've gotten so far. I'll keep you posted as the research unravels.
Hey, Dr. Oz! You listenin'?