Is Bite Beauty’s lipstick actually edible?
I love Toronto-based Bite Beauty and all of the pretty lipstick colours it makes. I’ve always wondered though, is Bite Beauty as ‘natural and ‘edible’ as the company claims?
Bite Beauty claims that its ingredients are natural and food-grade. As we know though, just because you can eat it doesn’t mean it’s good for you!
I’m a self proclaimed lipstick junkie and I certainly don’t shy away from bright colours. In fact I actually don’t own ANY neutral colours. It’s very difficult though to get bright colours without the use of at least some synthetic pigment.
How bad are synthetic ingredients in lipstick?
Most ingredients in Bite Beauty’s lipsticks are for moisturizing and holding it all together like plant-based oils and wax. As far as these ingredients go, I’m confident they all check out . . . all except for one: ‘POLYMETHYL METHACRYLATE‘ (PMMA).
PMMA is a synthetic polymer used as a “film former”. It’s rated as ‘low risk’ in the EWG database, compatible with human tissue (according to this site) and used widely for bone replacements and cosmetic fillers. According to studies and based on evidence thus far, “PMMA is perfectly safe in topically-applied beauty products (e.g., skin care, cosmetics) unless you have a rare sensitivity to methacrylates.” That said it’s still hard to wrap my head around consuming plastic for the sake of wearing lipstick.
Some other ingredients in Bite Beauty’s lipstick that catch my attention are synthetic pigments. Let’s take one of my favourite shades, ‘Radish’, for instance:
SILICA, TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891)*, IRON OXIDES (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)*, CARMINE (CI 75470)*, BLUE 1 LAKE (CI 42090), YELLOW 5 LAKE (CI 19140), YELLOW 6 LAKE (CI 15985), RED 40 LAKE (CI 16035), RED 6 LAKE (CI 15850), RED 7 LAKE (CI 15850), RED 27 LAKE (CI 45410), RED 28 LAKE (CI 45410), RED 30 LAKE (CI 73360), RED 33 LAKE (CI 17200), MANGANESE VIOLET (CI 77742)*
* NATURAL/ NATUREL
** ORGANIC / BIOLOGIQUE
Eek! . . . what are all of those dyes doing in there??
FD&C colours like “Red 40 Lake” are regulated and considered food grade. Technically they are actually edible. That said they’re only regulated in terms of the amount of toxic metals (lead & arsenic) that they contain. Just like food colouring, red pigments seem to be the worst offenders as potentially harmful to the body and commonly trigger allergies.
So what’s a girl to do??
Choose the lesser evil
Even with “natural pigments” and ingredients from the earth like like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, many contain some trace heavy metals which are naturally found in soil and rock. This means that at least some contamination occurs even with mineral makeup.
Synthetic pigments made from chemical and petroleum-based ingredients, especially coal tar dyes, obviously tend to be worse and are more heavily contaminated than those sourced from plant and mineral ingredients.
Consider this when buying lipstick:
Are companies being transparent and open about the pigments they’re using?
What level of “natural” are you personally comfortable with?
Will I give up Bite lipstick? Probably not. I may not wear it as often as my other lipsticks though. Brands like Ilia and Fitglow have some awesome shades and don’t use synthetic colour, or use very little (read more about this in an article I wrote for Joyous Health).