In “How To Find The Best Natural Mascara That Actually Works,”1 Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) serves up her usual plate of scare tactics, smearing market leaders in the cosmetics industry while offering up a buffet of “safe” alternative mascaras.
Of course, with all of these alternatives, she earns a sales commission. Take, for example, Physician’s Formula Organic Wear mascara:
You click, and Vani cashes in — Physician’s Formula Mascara and Food Babe’s encrypted Amazon.com affiliate ID (click to enlarge).
But how safe is this mascara? As in the other articles in this series, we’re going to make that judgement according to Food Babe rules: we’ll scan the list of ingredients2 (click the image below to enlarge), and if anything looks dangerous we’re going to cry “foul!”
–Physician’s Formula mascara ingredients (click to enlarge).
No… “Foul”, not “Fowl”.
Did you see the titanium dioxide?
Sherman, set the Wayback Machine3 for August 25, 2014, and let’s look at this Food Babe post about Caramel IV coloring4 in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Latte:
So… “4-Mel” might possibly cause cancer in humans and is known to cause cancer in lab animals. Scientists call these type of chemicals “group 2B carcinogens.” Please keep that term in mind. It will be important later.
Food Babe wants us to avoid group 2B carcinogens. Do you know what else is in this group?
Yes, titanium dioxide! (Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111.9)
Remember Vani told you 4-Mel (in Starbucks’ latte) caused cancer in lab animals and possibly caused cancer in humans? Here’s a quote on titanium dioxide from the U.S. National Library of Medicine Toxicology Data Network’s database.5 Food Babe appears to do a lot of quote mining of this very database, so I think it’s rather striking:
Read it with me, Food Babe: “Titanium dioxide is possibly carcinogenic to humans.” And “there is sufficient evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of titanium dioxide.” Didn’t you just say the same thing about Starbucks?
It gets worse: in an article on sunscreens, Hari strongly recommends seeking out and buying products that contain titanium dioxide.11 You probably won’t be surprised to learn she’s more than happy to sell you titanium dioxide-laden products via her web site.
If you’re a Food Babe Army member thinking “wait a minute, I’m drinking the Starbucks but only putting the titanium dioxide in my eyes and on my skin,” I’m afraid you’re out of luck. In upcoming article, we’ll be looking at how Food Babe disparages a group of chemicals known as parabens, commonly used in cosmetics. She says such cosmetics are dangerous to use on your skin, but she recommends eating parabens. Seriously.
So, a question: why is it wrong to buy a group 2B carcinogen from Starbucks but OK to buy it from a link on Food Babe’s web page? I’d invite you to ask Vani Hari that, but she deletes such questions from social media and bans the people who ask them.
Before you panic, please read the exciting (?) conclusion. There’s something about “group 2B carcinogens” you really need to know.
How dangerous is titanium dioxide–really? Consider this: other group 2B carcinogens include coffee, pickled vegetables, nickel, talc body powder, and the professions of carpentry and firefighting.11
According to experts,7 group 2B carcinogens are:
“[…] agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. [the term] may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. ” —International Agency for Research on Cancer 7
Emphasis in the above quote is mine. “Limited evidence”… I’m not an expert in the field, but I’m not really too worried about titanium dioxide. Or Starbucks’ latte. And Vani Hari is a hypocrite. If she’s going to wage war against Starbucks, she needs to toss the mascara in the garbage can.
And while we’re at it… there are also “group 1” carcinogens. Far more dangerous than group 2B (4-Mel, titanium dioxide, etc.), group 1 members are known to cause cancer. Why do I mention this?
Alcoholic beverages are group 1 carcinogens.9,10
I’ll just leave you with some screen captures of Food Babe enjoying and/or raving about this group 1 cancer-causer:
Amazon.com and Food Babe screen snapshots used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Fowls from WikiCommons user “Rex“, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Image owner does not necessarily agree with or support the views expressed by the author.
You May Also Be Interested In
Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Naturally Fresh Deodorant
Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Shampoo
Please note: To prevent increasing search engine exposure for objectionable web sites, I use the DoNotLink service to obfuscate their URLs. I promise you are not being redirected to porn.
(1) Food Babe: How To Find The Best Natural Mascara That Actually Works
(2) Physicians Formula Organic Wear on Amazon.com
(3) Wayback Machine
(4) Food Babe Caramel IV Archives
(5) U.S. National Library of Medicine Toxicology Data Network
(6) PubChem Compound Summary for CID 26042 (Titanium Dioxide)
(7) IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans
(8) FDA UCM215717.pdf (contains Group 2B summary)
(9) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111
(10) National Cancer Institute: Alcohol and Cancer Risk
(11) Food Babe: The Ingredients in Sunscreen Destroying Your Health
Thank you! This is what bothers me the most about her.. the hypocrisy. It is so obvious she uses fear to make a buck, but her followers just aren’t able to grasp it. The first time I went to her site, I realized she had cult leader characteristics. I grew up in a cult, so I am very familiar with them. Because of my past, this sort of lying really pisses me off!
Thanks for reading and commenting Melody. She bothers me for several of the reasons you mention, plus another: like Vani, I have a degree in computer science. I did spend an additional 2 years in college after I got that degree, as pre-med student, but I’ve never tried to represent myself as an expert in a field in which I’m not–as Food Babe does. I’ve seen a lot of ridicule heaped on computer science because of her. I think we are all justified in using our education to try and understand the world around us, and it’s OK to participate in debates. But misrepresenting your expertise as she does… it is just wrong. I hope my blog is always clearly written from the “here’s what experts in the field say” point of view!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Dude … even worse is the GMO Soy ingredients!
LikeLiked by 1 person
LOL, so true. I do have an article on that very subject in “draft” mode. The problem I have is one Food Babe doesn’t–honesty. I’ve contacted a certain company she pushes strongly, asking them about what I’m pretty sure is a GMO-sourced ingredient in a product featured on her shopping page. They’ve ignored 4 messages so far. Either I’ve touched a nerve or they have poor customer service. I hate to “go to press” with something without verifying it though, so I’m trying to give them a chance to respond.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Pingback: Food Babe Selling “Dangerous” Items: Tarte Blush | Bad Science Debunked
Pingback: Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion | Bad Science Debunked