A-Closer-Look-At: Bismuth Oxychloride and why it causes breakouts

Tanistates wonders in her recent article about the Ben Nye foundation and concealer why some of her foundations oxidize and why bismuth oxychloride causes break outs. I went out, did some research and found the answer plus some tips to prevent oxidizing.

What is bismuth oxychloride?
Bismuth oxycloride is a pigment that is composed of bismuth (a metal), oxygen and chloride. It is very rare in nature, and is mostly synthetically made. It is a crystal, but ground up it is a white, almost pearlescent powder. It can be found in many cosmetics, such as the so claimed “mineral makeup”, foundations and (pressed) powders. It is mostly used as a skin protective, thickener and absorbent agent. It adheres well to the skin.

Why does it cause break outs?
Bismuth oxychloride has a unique, cube like (for lack of a better word) crystalline structure. One of the corners of that cube can scrape, poke and thus irritate your skin. It also can get stuck in pores. And we all know, clogged pores can result in break outs.

Why do some foundations oxidize?
Oxidation is a process in which (in the case of foundation) the components react with the sebum (the oils in your skin). In the process, electrons are “freed”, which causes a ingredient in the foundation, mostly a metal or an oxide to oxidize. The extra electrons alter that ingredient, causing a color change. An extreme example (gotta love extreme examples) is Iron. There are two main Irons, Fe2+ and Fe3+. Fe is the abbreviation of Iron, while the number before the plus stands for the amount of free electrones. Fe2+ is light green, and Fe3+ is light yellow.

Helping the oxidation process along is the pH, the level of acidity of your skin. If you have a very acid skin (with low pH), you might experience more oxidation. Why? The optimum (= the best place/time/etc.) pH for oxidation is well, acidic.

How could I prevent oxidation?
There are a few tips and tricks to prevent oxidation:

1) Always ask for a small sample before you buy a certain foundation, or let a saleslady apply it and wait for a few hours before you purchase the foundation.
2) Moisturize well before applying a foundation to prevent the skin from secreting excess sebum.
3) Apply a primer. Not only it will help to make your foundation last longer, but it will form a barrier, so that the sebum can’t interact with the foundation.
4) Experiment. Every body is different. Try what works. Switch food (eat healthier, for instance, soda makes your body more acid), try different moisturizers/toners/primers.
5) Try a lighter foundation. If you really like the formula, try one or two shades lighter and after the oxidation, you might have the right match. Or try to set your foundation with a powder lighter than your skintone.
6) Avoid foundations which are oil-based, and read the ingredientlabels. Scan for ingredients that contains oxide or metal, and pick a foundation that contains as few metals or oxides as possible.

I hope this helps!

Until next time,



A Closer Look At: Acrylates

Acrylates (methyl methacrylate, poly(methyl methacrylate) )

I was curious what methyl methacrylate and poly(methyl methacrylate) were doing in a foundation. So, I dove deeper into the acrylates as subject of today. Please bear with me until the end when I try to make “an educated guess” about the use of these acrylates in beauty.

Last Tuesday, I wrote about acrylamide, bisacrylamide and polyacrylamide. Acrylamide and bisacrylamide are used to create polyacrylamide for a technique calles SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis). It is an example of an acrylate, because the acrylamide and bisacrylamide form bonds to create the polymer, resulting in a sponge like texture. This technique is mainly used to study and seperate proteins based on weight. Acrylamide is a neuro-toxin (it gets on your nerves – literaly) so you never want to touch it with your bare hands. Although the gel should be used with caution, it is still the golden standard in the research fields.

But now we are going to take a look at methyl methacrylate and poly(methyl methacrylate). Both substances are acrylates. To give you a clear understanding: poly(methyl methacrylate) is mostly refered to as plexiglass.

Poly(methyl methacrylate) is made from methyl methacrylate. Because manufacturers can never guarantee that all the methyl methacrylate has reacted and ‘changed’ itself to poly(methyl methacrylate), they have to list the ingredient as well. The red dots in the picture above indicates the place where the double bond between two carbon atoms (indicated by = ) opens, and creates another bond with a carbon atom from another methyl methacrylate molecule.

Methyl methacrylate is mostly used in total hip and knee replacements. It is used as the “glue” to fix the bone insterts to the bone. It reduces the post-operative pain, but it has a finite lifespan of about 20 years. Therefore, methacrylate is mostly used for the elderly (in younger patiënts, cementless inserts are used).

Poly(methyl methacrylate) is known as plexiglass, lucite, optix and perspex (depending on the manufacturer). It is used as a glass substitute in for instance, those huge aquariums in a zoo, because it can withstand the pressure of the water more easily than glass. Other uses include medical implants and plastic optical fibers (like the cable which you might use to connect your computer with the internet).

It is not surprising that poly(methyl methacrylate) might be used in nailpolish, because nailpolish consist of polymers to make a thin and yet durable layer (although that is a point of discussion – Chanel, with high prices, never seems to last an entire day on my nails).  Also, acrylates are used in hair gel or wax, as a fixative.
But what could it’s purpose be in a foundation or a concealer?

The most logical thing that I’ve come across are the acrylic paints. Acrylic paint is an pigment suspension in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, and become water-resistant when dry. Depending on the amount of dilution (the amount of water added) or modified, the finished painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting.

Although I wasn’t the best one in art class (my art teacher advised me not to pursue a career in art), I do remember that acrylic paints didn’t have a cream consistency like the Ben Nye foundation or concealer I reviewed last week. However, it is possible that the acrylates in that product provide a water resistant film, or at least makes sure that the product is waterproof. Since the foundation is for oily/combined skin, it could cause some trouble: the oil of the skin (sebum) can’t go anywhere because of the film and perhaps clog pores and cause pimples. My advise would be to thoroughly clean your face after using the products, perhaps even with a waterproof makeup cleanser.

However, you shouldn’t be worried about the safety of the product. A few atoms more or less can make a huge difference in the world of chemistry.

I hope this article is clear and it answers your questions (I had some myself as well), otherwise there’s always the comment box below to ask one.

Until next time,


Read-the-Label: Ben Nye Matte HD Foundation vs. Ben Nye Media Pro Blue Neutralizer

Reader Tanimara (click on the link to see her wonderful blog! ~Monique) asked me to look at the (fairly new) Ben Nye Matte HD Foundation and the Ben Nye Media Pro Blue Neutralizer.

Copyright Tanimara Loupatty

The ingredients for the Matte HD Foundation are:
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia cerifera (carnauba), Talc, Ozokerite, Polymethyl methacrylate, Methyl methacrylate, Crosspolymer, Silica, Kaolin, Phenoxyenthanol, Mehtylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben.
May contain (+/-): Cl NO. 77489, 77491, 77492, 77499, 77891, 77289, 77288, 77007, 19140 (Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, Chromium hydroxide green, Chromium oxide green, Ultramarines, Yellow 5). Parfum Free.

Copyright Tanimara Loupatty

And for the Blue Neutralizer Concealer:
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Copernicia cerifera (Carnauba), Talc, Ozokerite, Polymethyl methacrylate, Methyl methacrylate, CrossPolymer, Silica, Kaolin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben. May contain (+/-): Cl NO. 77489, 77491, 77492, 77499, 77891, 77289, 77288, 77007, 19140 (Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, Chromium hydroxide green, Chromium oxide green, Ultramarines, Yellow 5). Parfum Free.

Copyright Tanimara Loupatty

Two things I can already tell from scanning this list:

A) They are exactly the same. If the consistancy of the concealer is slightly thicker, it means that you’ll get the reduced version of the foundation. Try this little experiment: put a little bit of foundation in a microwave-safe jar, heat it up in the microwave and see if the texture looks the same as of the concealer. If the two textures are alike, you basically have the same product in a different jar, perhaps with a bit more solvent (caprylic/capric triglyceride) than in the concealer. If that is true, go for the product that has the best price per gram. Or, if you are a pro and carry the full range of both the foundation and the concealer, you can decide to only carry the concealers, plus the R.C.M.A. Foundation Thinner (9,95 EUR for 1 oz.) and mix to create a foundation.

B) There are no silicones in this product, which means that you have to blend, blend and blend. Using your fingers, a sponge or a brush might not suffice. This formula dries very quickly; so the key is: blend fast! Or try using the R.C.M.A. thinner. This foundation and concealer are the perfect products to use on people who are allergic to silicones.

Let’s move on to the ingredientlist.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: First off, I love the fact that the product isn’t water/oil based. This means that you get more bang for you buck. Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is an extract that is derived from coconut (or palm kernel oil). It is mostly used as a moisturizing and thickening agent. It has low toxicity and it’s short tails (there are tree tails in this fatty acid!) can penentrate the lipid membrane. The short tail can penetrate cell wall membrane lipids (a lipid is a fat that is the main component of a cell membrane) from bacteria. Although you shouldn’t bet that caprylic/capric triglycerice can be used as a preservative, it’s good to know that it’s able to contribute to the stability and safety of the product.

Copernicia cerifera (Carnauba) is a palm tree of which the wax is used. The wax coats the leaves to prevent loss of water, so it’s logical that it also creates a film on your skin. To obtain the wax, the leaves are dryed in the sun for days. The wax turns to dust, and is removed by threshing. It is melted, strained and cooled. This wax is the hardest natural wax available. Wax is harder than fat (for instance, you can punch butter (dutch proverb), but I wouldn’t try it with wax), it has a higher melting point and doesn’t become rancid. It can be used as a thickening agent, and it can absorb oil.

Talc absorbs oil as well, and together with the wax, it creates a matte finish. Talc is a mineral, and consists of hydrated magnesium silicate (meaning that water is added). It is grounded into a soft powder, mostly in small flakes. To be used in cosmetics, talc is milled and purified. Next to absorbing oil, and as a bulking agent, it gives the skin a silky smooth feel. Talc is perfectly safe. If it is in powder form (as in, a loose foundation or another powder), it is harmless should you inhale it (but as with everything, inhaling too much is never a good thing obviously).

Ozokerite is another wax, and it’s closely related to mineral oil. In India it is used as an alternative for Vaseline. Polymethyl methacrylate and Methyl methacrylate are like a big brother and a little brother. Most often, polymethyl methacrylate is made from methyl methacrylate. Actually, the correct listing of polymethyl methacrylate is Poly(methylmethacrylate), because poly(methylacrylate) could be a crosspolymers and belong to the group of acrylates. I’m not sure if I like it; it is acutally a form of plastic and we labrats (ok, inside joke, I know) like to handle acrylate very cautiously. In this formula, it is used as a surfactant. Whether it is good or bad I leave it up to you (I’m a bit torn), but remember: if it isn’t safe, it probably wouldn’t have been FDA approved. However, don’t flush this down the sink; we dont want to add even more to the plastic soup that is already floating in our oceans.

Silica, otherwise known as Silicon dioxide or ‘Sand’ is used to thicken the product and to absorb oil. Don’t inhale it to0 often (just like talc, it will clog your lungs!), but obviously that won’t be a problem with this cream product. Funny fact: drinking 10 mg a day of silica for over 10 years could decrease dementia. I guess we all know Kaolin, clay from the famous clay masks. It absorbs oil and thickens the product.

Phenoxyethanol is an alcohol, and acts like a preservative. Other preservatives are Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben (and correctly listed by form: least to most carbon atoms – a funny fact that I love. Call me a geek if you like). This group contains the most effective and safest preservatives available, and phenoxyethanol is very effective against bacteria and yeast.

The “may contain” section contains numbers and names. The numbers match the names listed between the brackets. These are the pigments that are used to give the product the color. So, in this context, the “may contain” indicates that it is used, but in very small amounts. So, for instance, don’t count that the Iron Oxides and the Titanium Dioxide will provide any sun protection because they are used in a very low amount. The iron oxides are a group of well, compounds that exist of iron and oxide. In this formula, they are used as pigment. This group can range from yellow to rose/red/brown. This is mainly because of the iron in it. Titanium dioxide is white. Chromium hydroxide green and Chromium oxide green are both green (in case you hadn’t guessed yet). The difference between Chromium hydroxide green and Chromium oxide green is that Chromium hydroxide green has one extra hydrogen atom. And last, we have Ultramarines and Yellow 5, and they turns out to be blue (because of a sulfide anion) and yellow. 😉

This cream product is a cream because of it’s many thickening agents and the ozokerite. There are a lot of oil absorbers in this product as well, which makes this product great for oily/combined skin. It’s not as suitable for people with dry skin, unless they mosturize well before use. I love the fact that there is no water in this product, which makes it less suseptable to pathogens (bacteria, yeast, etc.). But they actually have no chance at all with it’s well balanced preservative mix of at least four different kinds of parabens and phenoxylethanol. The only thing that could be a worry for some are the acrylates in these products; polymethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate. It’s not that bad, but you shouldn’t flush it down the sink.

Tanimara, I hope you liked this ingredient review of your products and I hope that your questions were answered. If not, you can always leave a comment for me to answer.

Out of my own curiousity, I will do a post on Acrylates next Friday, see you then!

Until next time,


R.C.M.A. Research Council of Makeup Artists

One of the least known brands carried by Promakeupstore, RCMA has been an insider secret of pro makeup artists for many years. The reason you haven’t heard of RCMA? They don’t advertise. Why don’t they advertise? Because they don’t have to. The brand has earned it’s good reputation with the pro’s by being consistent, hard working and performing at top level at even the most grueling of circumstances. They many not sport fancy packaging or big screen names to promote their brand, but the good news is: you will not be paying for that either! Because of their low profile and organic marketing strategy, you only pay for Continue reading