Makeup (powder, Paint, Lipstick) And Their Chemical Composition
( Originally Published 1936 )
Lipsticks are simple in chemical composition, however complicated their application or effects. They are made up of three ingredients—a waxy or fatty base, a dye and a perfume.
The base is either paraffin or lanolin (wool fat), or spermaceti, or a mixture of these. The dyes are carmine, or fuchsin, or cudbear, or eosin, or phloxin, or geranium red. The perfumes are as you desire them.
There is no danger in the use of lipstick. In fact, for sensitive mucous membranes they are protective. Anyone can eat a lipstick with no more harm than eating a pat of butter. Gentlemen who get lipstick smeared on their lips, either accidentally or in the course of business, need anticipate no bodily distress.
Rouge is made of zinc oxide and chalk and dyes and perfume. Or sometimes acacia, or tragacanth, and dyes and perfume. In a small percentage of people sensitized to these substances, skin eruptions occur, and occasionally even more general bodily symptoms, such as asthma.
But for the vast majority the use of rouge does not cause any serious consequences. It is probable that long-continued use of rouge, combined with the habit of cleaning the face with cold cream, instead of soap and water, will cause the production of pimples or acne or blackheads.
Face powders more often do harm than either rouge or lipstick. And frequently the victim is entirely unaware of the cause of the symptoms.
One of the common ingredients of face powder is orris root, which has long been recognized as an exciting factor in hay fever and asthma. In fact, so frequently were these diseases found to follow its use, that manufacturers have been compelled to exclude it from most of the face powders sold. The thing, however, is more complicated, because the symptoms may occur when a sensitive person is merely in the neighborhood of orris root powder, so that you may be getting asthma or hay fever from your neighbor's powder.
An illustrative case is that of a girl in school, who was known to be sensitive to orris root, but who kept having asthma even when this substance was excluded from all her toilet preparations. But they forgot her roommate, who used orris root face powder. While dressing, the roommate would fluff enough powder into the air to give her chum an attack of asthma.
Rice powder and lycopodium, also used in face powder, may cause the same results. And curiously, some of the perfumes and dyes, when exposed to the ultra-violet rays of the sun, become noxious for sensitive people.
Many cases of runny nose, weepy eyes and sneezing fits can be traced to this source. The fact should be remembered, especially by people who are subject to hay fever.
Much more serious, even possibly fatal, are the consequences of using face powder containing lead.