Like most conventional cosmetics, face powder can contain a number of synthetic chemicals that have been linked to everything from cancers to hormone disruption to birth defects to skin or eye irritation. Not so pretty. While face powder formulations vary brand to brand, they tend to be made with parabens, fragrance, dyes and other colorants, as well as many controversial petroleum-derived ingredients.
Powder also tends to contain talc, which the Environmental Working Group says can be contaminated with asbestos fibers, posing risks for respiratory toxicity and cancer. And some also contain the skin conditioning agent retinyl palmitate. The EWG gives this a high hazard rating, citing an FDA study indicating that it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied in sunlight. Used daily, these ingredients may build up in your body.
Natural powders are usually safer, but all loose mineral powders containing mica and/or titanium dioxide may harm or scar lungs if inhaled over time, though most studies are based on industrial worker exposure. If this concerns you, apply in a well-ventilated room, or stick to liquid or cream foundation.
If your current powder doesn’t have natural or organic certification, look it up on the on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database or the GoodGuide. If it turns out to be too risky to wear, replace it with one that scores better and contains natural, organic, or biodynamic ingredients.
Not available in your drug store? Check natural product stores and online.