Diatomaceous Earth

What Is It?

Diatomaceous Earth is a mineral material consisting chiefly of the siliceous fragments of various species of fossilized remains of diatoms. In cosmetics and personal care products, Diatomaceous Earth may be used in the formulation of bath products, soaps and detergents, cleansing products, face powders, foundations and skin care preparations.

Why Is It Used?

Diatomaceous Earth functions as an abrasive, absorbent, anticaking agent, bulking agent and as an opacifying agent.

Scientific Facts

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring chalk-like sedimentary rook that is easily crumbled into a white to off-white powder. The powder has an abrasive feel. Diatomaceous Earth typically contains 86% silica, 5% sodium, 3% magnesium and 2% iron.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits Diatomaceous Earth to be used as an indirect food additive. It is permitted for use in the manufacture of phenolic resins used in some food contact surfaces and as a colorant for food contact polymers. The FDA includes Diatomaceous Earth on its list of substances migrating to food from paper and paperboard products considered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

FDA: Link to Code of Federal Regulations for Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/product_labelling_and_packaging/co0013_en.htm

More Scientific Information

Diatomaceous Earth may also be called diatomite. Because Diatomaceous Earth is formed from the remains of diatoms which live in water, it is found close to current or former bodies of water. Diatomaceous Earth is divided into categories based on its source; freshwater and saltwater. Freshwater Diatomaceous Earth, mined from dry lakebeds, is generally low in crystalline silica content. Saltwater Diatomaceous Earth, contains higher levels of crystalline silica and is used for pool filters.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration

Food Ingredients and Packaging: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/default.htm

Food Contact Substances: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/PackagingFCS/default.htm

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS): http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/default.htm

Search the Code of Federal Regulations http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm

EU Cosmetics Inventory http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/