Today we continue our series probing the hypocrisy of Thrive Market, the putative all-natural online store whose products often contain the very ingredients they claim to be toxic–but apparently only when found in competitor’s offerings.
In “The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding in Your Makeup”, Thrive Market Lifestyle and Beauty Editor Dana Poblete calls out titanium dioxide in cosmetics for its possible carcinogenic properties. She cautions readers to avoid makeup containing this compound, especially in pressed and loose powders, where inhalation is possible.1 Poblete cites the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Skin Deep” database as an authoritative reference on cosmetic ingredients and, not coincidentally, goes on to refer potential shoppers to Thrive’s own collection of makeup as an alternative (“No more nasty chemicals to mess up your makeup game!”).
Right then. Thrive Market tells us to avoid titanium dioxide in cosmetics, especially in powders. Got it!
Let’s go shopping at Thrive:
Above is a snapshot of Thrive’s Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3”.2 I wonder what’s inside?
Zut alors! Did you catch it? Let me zoom in for you:
Yes, it’s titanium dioxide. Thrive is selling us the very compound they linked to cancer, in the same product where they warned it could be hidden! Lulled into a false sense of security, shopping on an “all natural” web site backed by the astroturf “research group” EWG,3 frightened shoppers are duped into forking over hard earned cash for a Xerox copy of the chemicals they were told could kill them.
“But surely this is just a one-off mistake!”, I hear the all-natural crowd cry. Au contraire mon frère:
A second powder on offer from ThriveMarket.com (above) is Mineral Hygienics Fair Mineral Foundation. Without further ado, let’s look at the listed ingredients:4
Strike three. Act now, my friends, and you can save 31% on this nice Mineral Fusion Harmony Blush from our good friends at ThriveMarket.com. Just ignore the titanium dioxide5 (or like Bill Clinton, don’t inhale):13
I could go on (I really could), but I’m sure you get the point: Thrive’s little shop of horrors is loaded with the same chemical cocktail they claim can kill you if you buy it in a competitor’s product.
To add insult to injury, before you can purchase from Thrive, you have to buy a yearly membership.6 Bend over and grease up–you’re about to get screwed.
Just to throw a little science and logic at you: there’s nothing really dangerous about any of these products. There is no evidence that titanium dioxide causes cancer in humans. The woomeisters who attempt to push it as a carcinogen seem to be referring to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) list of Group 2B carcinogens,8 which, for perspective, includes pickled vegetables, the profession of carpentry, and caffeic acid,10,11,12 a compound found in the Roasted Dandelion Tea sold by Thrive.9 The IARC lists these agents as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.7 That doesn’t mean that they are.
But if Thrive argues that an ingredient is linked to cancer as a way to scare us away from certain products, why is their store loaded with items that contain the same additive? And their store is loaded. Perhaps because of my series of articles pointing this out, a kind reader recently wrote to ask if I had a vendetta against Thrive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of the one hundred articles published on this blog since its creation in 2014, only four have mentioned this hypocritical market. They’re no worse–and no better–than any of the other snake oil pushers I’ve written about (Vani Hari, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Mercola, Dr. Mark Hyman, David Avocado Wolfe, etc.)
Thrive has my attention at the moment partially because their hypocrisy is so easy to spot–just read their labels–and partially because of the underhanded way some of their vendors are propping up their own brands through disingenuous research by non-scientific groups, such as EWG, that they themselves fund. As we’ll see in an upcoming piece, the Environmental Working Group isn’t the only firm with financial ties to markets such as Thrive. If you have’t heard of U.S. Right to Know and the Organic Consumer’s Association, get familiar with the names. Along with EWG, they’re being funded in part by the labels you see on the virtual shelves of your favorite online organic vendor.
Stay thirsty (for knowledge) my friends.
(1) The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding in Your Makeup (ThriveMarket.com)
(2) Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3” Ingredients (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
(3) Environmental Working Group/ThriveMarket Deal
(4) Fair Mineral Foundation Ingredients (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
(5) Mineral Fusion Harmony Blush (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
(6) How Thrive Works
(7) IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans
(8) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112
(9) Thrive Market Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Tea
(10) Yarnell, E. ND, RH and Abascal, K. JD, RH. Integrative Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 2. Apr/May 2009
(11) Li, Yan, Tan, et al. 2006. Qualitative fingerprint and quantitative determination of caffeic acid in compound dandelion enema.
(12) PubChem Summary for Compound ID #689043 (Caffeic Acid)
(13) Bill Clinton: I Didn’t Inhale
Thrive Market screen snapshots are used in strict 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.
Thrive Market coupon parody by Mark Alsip/Bad Science Debunked.