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The primary purpose iron oxides serve is purely functional since they play an integral role in the formulation process. However, there’s also a secondary, more skincare-focused benefit that makes them one of those ‘get extra bang for your buck’ ingredients worth seeking out.


TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Mineral compound

MAIN BENEFITS: Iron oxides are most often used to add pigment to cosmetics and skincare, but they also have the added benefit of protecting the skin from visible and blue light.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: These are safe and effective for all but can be especially beneficial for those with melasma, a condition that’s exacerbated by visible light.


WORKS WELL WITH: Iron oxides tend to work well with all ingredients.

DON’T USE WITH: According to the experts, there are no ingredients known to interact negatively with iron oxides.

Benefits of Iron Oxides

Iron oxides’ primary purpose is to give makeup products a particular colour. But dermatologists are intrigued by this ingredient because iron oxides have also been shown to offer excellent protection against visible light. Like UV light, visible light can also be damaging to the skin and, more specifically, it can also worsen conditions such as melasma, In fact, one study found that sun protection formulas containing iron oxides were more effective at preventing sun-induced pigmentation, especially in darker skin types.

Iron oxides have been shown to offer enhanced protection against the blue light emitted from our computer screens and electronic devices. A study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology confirmed this, more specifically finding that this benefit was even further enhanced when iron oxides were combined with zinc oxide, an often-used natural form of sun protection ingredient.

Point being, iron oxides offer protection against certain types and wavelengths of light that regular sunscreens do not. And when they’re used in sun protection, they also have the added benefit of adding a nice tint that can make the product more cosmetically elegant and decrease the white cast that many mineral formulas can leave behind. Plus, iron oxides also have reflective properties that help to even out skin tone and diffuse the appearance of imperfections. Yes, please.

Side Effects of Iron Oxides

There really aren’t any to speak of. Iron oxides are well-tolerated, even by people with sensitive skin. The other upshot? Unlike some of the other pigments used in cosmetics which are animal-derived (carmine is one good example), iron oxides offer a nice vegan alternative for people.

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