Why it’s probably best to avoid makeup with titanium dioxide – and which brand to use instead

Written by Koren Helbig

Knowing exactly what goes into every pot of MG Naturals makeup is as easy as reading the label – which sounds obvious, but unfortunately the same can’t be said for every so-called natural product on the market.

Kailah Shannon, who founded the Queensland-based business in 2013, says while labelling laws mandate that all ingredients in makeup must be listed, no governing body exists to test what actually goes into products, meaning less than ideal ingredients can be snuck in with consumers none the wiser.

“I read so many ingredient descriptions and cannot find a trace of preservatives, yet the products are shelf stable so they are either ‘magic’ or omitting ingredients from their labels,” Kailah told us.

“This causes problems for honest companies like ours, because we have to re-educate consumers on the safety of their products. We put all the ingredients on our packaging so people can make an informed decision.”

Titanium dioxide-free products for healthier skin

MG Naturals, made at a certified organic Gold Coast laboratory, is one of the world’s few brands that don't use boron nitride, magnesium stearate or titanium dioxide in their makeup.

The latter is especially important, says Kailah, as studies show titanium dioxide isn’t photostable (meaning it degrades when hit by ultraviolet rays) and can actually attack our skin. That’s frightening, as titanium dioxide is hugely common, used in sunscreens to reflect UV light and in other products to add whiteness and brightness and resist discoloration.

“That’s why so many people have issues with their skin that go on and on and don’t clear up. The skin never gets a chance to heal because they keep on applying makeup that is essentially attacking the skin,” she says.

Rigorous testing ensures a winning all-natural, vegan combo

The alternative is totally natural and vegan products, which is exactly what MG Naturals prides itself on. But coming up with such products isn’t easy, Kailah says, with loads of trial and error necessary before a potentially winning ingredient combo is found.

She’ll usually settle on five prototypes, which are then tested on humans – in the form of up to 50 keen and willing human volunteers.

Once the recipe’s sorted, the product goes into three- and six- month testing phases to ensure the mix stands up to the test of time without spoiling or growing mould, a necessary step without the usual harsh preservatives added.

“We have been actively creating a mascara for more than 20 months and we’re only now close to having a product that I am happy to put our name to. So many times the accountant has said ‘no more testing, just release it’, but I won’t,” Kailah says.

“My friends, family and people who trust us to make the safest cosmetics we can are going to buy this and use it. Cosmetic formulation is my area of interest and expertise so people trust me to do the research and make the right decisions, knowing that I wouldn’t steer them wrong for profit.”

Organic certification and sustainable packaging on the way

Kailah has big plans for MG Naturals, with organic certification on its way and extra sustainability measures being developed, including new reusable containers available now and refills to be released soon.

While it’s not always easy walking the road less travelled, Kailah says hearing from happy customers makes it all worthwhile.

“It makes those tough nights with a six-month-old child much easier to bounce back from. When I receive those emails, I have a coffee and go into my work day with enthusiasm,” she says.

We hear you, Kailah.

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