Hey Dr. Oz, how about Fruit and Flower Pigments in Cosmetics?

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 naomi.richfieldfratz@fda.hhs.gov).

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'?


Anonymous said…
I knew there was a reason I never liked that guy....
Shattered said…
Yeah, because the talc-based stuff (hello cancer) and the stuff with mineral oil in it that you can find just about everywhere (and which I am allergic to) is such a better option.

I don't care for Oprah, nor do I care for her little spinoff buddies - Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, et al are drama queens.
Starlight said…
LOL! Me too!
Rebecca Walters said…
You know, I have issue with him, and people like Dr. Phil (who is a close buddy of him), who push their agendas as "fact".
Both of them have so much to GAIN from terrifying people that I really believe they should not be allowed to make blanket statements like that, because all they are doing is giving people some one to BLAME for health issues (or mental health ones) rather than providing REAL and concrete advice.
First off, anyone with a BRAIN is going to know, you don't inhale the mica/minerals. That's kind of a given, BUT, since there are people who aren't that bright (think McDonald's coffee lawsuit), I've noticed PLENTY of warnings in regards to working with things like your products, in a ventilated area.
Mineral makeup is really pretty benign in a world where we are busy working on the quickest way to annihilate small countries via biological warfare. Hmmm, maybe they need to look into the fruit based makeup program... that might just help them along.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Kaila, I was just sitting fuming after watching Oz.. glad to know I was not the only one.
Anonymous said…
I would like to buy the pigment still. if plant pigments get regulated, I will already have a grasp of their uses in my products. I can also use them now for myself.
Can you put a warning and link to this blog for your customers? So they can make an informed decision?
If I remember right, the patent is from 2006 and nothing has happened so far.
Normally Dr. Oz has pretty good advice... this sounds pretty out there though. I could understand if he were talking to formulators of Mineral Makeup and not those who use it. As a formulator myself, I'll admit (even though I shouldn't), if I'm just sitting down to quick do something, I don't always put my mask on! Eeps!

Unfortunately he has a big audience right now, and I think this is going to hurt the sales of a lot of big and small companies. But it'll probably wash over, eventually. :)
Living Marble said…
Kaila, have you thought about contacting the Dr. Oz show? I thought about it after seeing the show because I thought he kind of missed the mark. I like Dr. Oz generally, but I found that segment wasn't particularly well researched or explained. I use mineral makeup because I'm allergic to just about everything on the market. I've never had clouds of makeup puffing around me as I use it, so I'm not worried about inhaling it at all. I'm in Canada and I haven't been involved in makeup as long as you, you would be the perfect representative for us MMU manufacturers who didn't get a voice on that show. Just a thought...J.
vitamin E is a preservative and it is in the fruit blend ingredient list.
Anonymous said…
Did you see the puff of BE Foundation that was flying all around, I really don't know of any woman putting her makeup on like that! I teach my customers to make sure they use just a bit at a time and the minerals are tucked inside the brush, not a loose large amount of powder on the brush! Hey Dr. OZ...learn how to apply makeup like a real woman!!!
Anonymous said…
Vitamin E is NOT a preservative - it is used to help keep oils from going rancid - but does nothing to stop the growth of bacteria.
Natalie said…
I do not like Dr. Oz. He has some good advice, but he also makes generalized sweeping statements that, like the poster above said are supposed "facts" but are really only sometimes true. And because he is on Oprah, so many people just follow him like sheep. Drives me crazy.
Siilike said…
So funny!
Living in EU I can honestly state that I have seen no cosmetics with colorants made out of plants. Greatgreatgrandmas used beet-juice to color her lips though. Colorant made of beet-juice is used in food industry now.
When they make these 100% pure products, usually the preservative is either vitamin e tocopherol or smth like it. Some oils are used too but these go rancid eventually. My mum told me that the best creams are handmade, must be kept in the fridge and used up in 2 months.
Carol said…
I live in Europe and I can assure you that plant extracts would not be approved for use without the addition of anti fungals and anti bacterials. That fact is that simple humidity would catalyst these extracts into a petri dish of hungry microbes.
Anonymous said…

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Well, I just looked at their foundation and it has titanium dioxide and zinc oxide....ummm not from fruit that's for sure. I'd call those mineral based.

Great information. thanks!
Anonymous said…
Vitamin E is a natural preservative. Also, just because something is "Natural," it doesn't mean that it is eco-friendly or ethical. I have looked and looked, and have found no information on where mineral makeup companies get there minerals, only that they are "mined." Diamonds are natural, but anyone who has seen Blood Diamond knows how ethical that industry historically has been. Water is natural, but that doesn't mean that the bottled water companies who go into third world nations and exploit their water resources care about the environment or human rights. Where are these minerals being mined from? Bare Minerals, under the guise of wanting to keep "trade secrets," will not even tell their employees where they mine their minerals. If you ask me, that is no recipe for ethical sourcing. For all I know, mineral makeup companies are forcing their way into poor nations and destroying their ecosystems just so we can feel holier than thou wearing our so called natural makeup. Don't get me wrong, I currently where mineral makeup, but, since I have not been able to find any statement on whether or not the sourcing is ethical, I think I've found a solution in plant-based cosmetics!
Actually, the minerals used in cosmetics which are FDA approved are synthetically manufactured in the lab not "mined" because they have better control over the levels of contaminants (e.g. heavy metals), better control over color hue and also it is a requirement of the FDA.
Susan Apito said…
I actually filed a complaint with the FDA about 100% Pure, because of the illegal colorants. Earlier this year I requested the field report through the Freedom of Information Act. The report came this week, as did an email from the company letting me know the FDA had been there. I can't say my complaint was the reason for the following recall...because the issue of illegal colorants still has not been addressed...but F.Y.I. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm
Mary Walton said…
is there an update please on this very interesting discussion, are the fruit colours legal or not in the EU?
Anonymous said…
Wait, if I do want to purchase 100% Pure Cosmetics, do I have to keep it in the fridge or use it before 2 months is over..? And when bacteria grows, it would give acne, right? I'm 15 years old and now starting to wear makeup - full face. I came across 100% Pure and was like "woah, I wanna eat this stuff." Especially when I found out about all natural chemical free. I don't want to have irritated skin because of Dior, or any drugstore makeup, so from reading this, I never really found where it's really bad, just you speaking to the FDA (oh, like that'll stop fruit-pigments in makeup). Anyways, I really want natural, chemical-free in my makeup bag, so can you cut to the chase and say HOw bad it really is? Will it cause acne, skin cancer, cancer in general, how can it cause bacteria, when it really HASEN'T yet? It's been four years since you posted this, will your file ever stop them? I don't think so yet. Either way, how dangerous is it?

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