Malachite in Skincare Products: But Isn’t Malachite Toxic?

We just heard the new trend…putting malachite in skincare products.

It just boggles the mind, all the things people are willing to do in order to make themselves look good.

Blended up concoctions containing snail slime, horse oil, bee venom, birds’ nests….

It’s nuts.

But as for malachite, a substances that is known for its toxicity, it is pretty tough to recommend these types of products.

Copper Is Natural and Necessary To Life, But Also Toxic

Malachite is a green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral, and was one of the first ores to produce copper metal. (source)

Not all of the components of malachite are problematic. The troublesome actor in malachite is actually the copper.

Copper occurs naturally in the world, and it is in the ground we walk in, in food we eat, in the water we drink, even in the air we breath.

We consume trace amounts every day without even realizing it. And…it is essential that we consume at least some copper, humans and animals both.

The trouble arises for us humans when we take in too much copper.

When the exposure to copper is high, we humans may experience discomfort in out nose, eyes, and mouth.

We may feel dizzy or struggle with headaches.

In more severe cases, we might throw up, or suffer from diarrhea.

The worst cases can result in organ damage and death.

In general, it is not recommended that you make extra efforts to ingest or absorb additional amounts of copper.

For average individuals, simply eating, drinking, and breathing is enough to get the copper our bodies need.

Should Skincare Products Contain Malachite?

So to see beauty products containing malachite burning up the charts…..well, it just makes us shake our heads.

As discussed above, small amounts of copper (really just trace amounts) are already ingested by humans and animals daily.

For those of us in the rockhounding world, we generally avoid as much as possible handling raw malachite, breaking in the dust created from polishing or cutting it, and we try not to touch it when it is wet.

We generally don’t handle it until it has been covered by a sealant of some kind, and the same is true for folks who want to wear it as jewelry or carry it around with them.

The reason–to avoid getting additional/excess copper into our system.

See also: Tips for Sleeping With Malachite

To Avoid Lawsuits, the Malachite in Skincare Products Is Probably Not Extremely or Immediately Dangerous

In this litigious day and age, at least if you are in the United States, it is unlikely that a company will purposefully bring a product to market that will likely quickly cause injury or death.

Thus, there is probably not enough copper in the malachite skincare product even if you use it excessively that will cause you quick harm/death.

That is, unless you were to consume the entire product, or put the entirely of it on yourself at once. But even then, there probably isn’t enough malachite and copper in there to matter.

The marketing message around malachite skincare products is that you have to look for the highest quality product, with the right “formulation” to avoid getting too much copper.

But how is the average person going to know whether the formulation contains this much copper or that, aside from looking at the price tag?

To put your concerns to rest, these companies trying to sell products containing malachite will show you a link to a completely unrelated and irrelevant medical study where the outcome of the involvement of copper in the treatment was positive.

They use buzz words like “respected researcher” and “copper in certain cases may help.”

Contrast that with this study which confirms that malachite green chlorite, a dye used to prevent fungus infections in commercial fisheries, fed to rats and mice resulted in tumors and cancer.

Thus, while the products are probably not extremely dangerous, we think that it goes to far to conclude that these products are safe to use.

The next question is then, if the product contains minimal amounts of malachite such that its users can avoid suffering bodily harm (and suing the manufacturer), why you would want to buy it?

If the product contains minimal malachite and the rest of the product (fragrance, moisturizer, abrasives, etc) are carrying the primary load of the skincare treatment, we just don’t see how it could possibly contain enough malachite to matter or be worth the hefty price tag.

Long Term Impacts Of Putting Malachite On Your Skin Are Still Unknown

Malachite has been used on and off for centuries in makeup.

As far back to ancient Egypt (and perhaps beyond), powdered malachite was used as green eye shadow to create the cat eye look.

It was generally used in conjunction with a gray powder made up of lead.

Very healthy.

This practice carries on to the 21st century, where trace amounts of malachite are not found in limited quantities in green eye makeup.

We would argue against assuming that it is safe, simply because everyone else has been using it.

Beauty trends through the centuries have been brutal and damaging.

Women used to eat arsenic to lighten their complexion, use mercury to exfoliate, and drink radium solution as a health tonic.

Malachite is beautiful, no doubt.

But we can’t see that the potential (though still dubious) benefit of the product outweighs the risk of what can happen to your body if you expose yourself consistently for extended periods of time to a substance that is known to be toxic to humans when quantities exceed trace amounts.

And nothing about studies that show that malachite containing products cause cancer in rats and mice make us feel confident about it.

We’ll pass.

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