Why that David Wolfe meme about women consuming 5lb of toxic chemicals from makeup is crap

Oh man, this has been bugging me. There is this stupid meme being circulated from the David Wolfe facebooks page saying that women consume 5lb of toxic chemicals from beauty products each year.

Let’s break it down… Let’s assume for arguments sake that women wear a full face of makeup each day. So we have lipstick, mascara, foundation (or bb cream, or cc cream), some kind of blush, a highlighter, eyeliner and eyeshadow. Personally I’m not counting nail polish as mine seems to mainly chip off or grow out and I can’t see how it could end up inside you.

OK, onto an estimate of what you apply each day (big hat tip to brightest bulb in the box)

  • Lipstick is 0.008g per day, or 0.016 if you applied twice and licked it all off instead of it wiping off on cups etc.
  • Foundation is 0.06g/day using the most wasteful ways of applying. Let’s add another 0.06 for setting powder or primer if you are feeling doing the full face.
  • Blush is such a hard product to use up. Brightest bulb in the box has per application down at 0.014g but it might be higher if you are dark skinned. Let’s round up to 0.04 just in case.
  • I’ll put highlighter down at the same value of 0.04g.
  • Eyeshadow is also a powder product, but covers a smaller area. We’ll go with the 0.014g per application.
  • Mascara and eyeliner is pretty light on again – I can’t find any articles but has an eyeliner comes in 1-1.5g containers and lasts about 6 weeks if you use it constantly which comes to 0.02g. Mascara comes in sizes from 3g to 10g… these last 3 month before you throw them out. I’ll call in 0.1g to be generous.

So at most a full face of makeup seems to have about 0.2g of makeup… so you’ll max out at closer to 2ozs a year with 74g applied.

Now we also know that the skin doesn’t absorb all of this as we remove makeup at the end of the day. Let’s say that’s 30% of the makeup we apply. So let’s say 0.13g is left, that we either absorb or gets lost to general sweating/wiping against your hands or clothing and so so on. So 50g is the top limit of material you would’ve “consumed” in a year wearing a full face each day.

Then you have to consider, even if it didn’t mainly wear, off how much makeup you think is toxic. It’s all a matter of doses when you consider toxicity, which these sites tend to ignore. A great example of this is Vitamin A. While you need it in small doses to maintain your bodies health, it can cause liver failure in large amounts. The first ingredient in my foundation is water. The first ingredient in my blush is talc. Both of those ingredient could be “toxic” if breathed in but are not an issue on external usage.

When you see memes like this it’s important to ask question and use some logic to test if its true.


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