It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a meteorite and it’s heading straight for a jar of skin cream.
When meteorites enter the earth’s atmosphere, they burn bright, forming a fireball called a shooting star. Ninety-nine percent disintegrate upon entry, creating star dust that drifts about in the atmosphere. A rare 1 percent comes crashing down to earth.1
Ninety percent of these space rocks are just that – rocks. Ten percent contain a myriad of precious metals or silicate. One such 4.4 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars was found in the Sahara and quickly sold to a collector for $6,000. Ironically named Black Beauty, individuals are still wondering why meteorites have become the latest celestial skin care secret.
The claim is that meteorites are multi-mineral compounds that will boost skin health and radiance – magnesium, calcium, kamacite, taenite, and silicate being the star ingredients. But are these components beneficial and can they even penetrate skin?
Magnesium: It helps retain moisture in skin, but the jury is still out on whether the amount that can actually infiltrate would yield any benefit.2
Calcium: Essential to the formation of desmosomes in the skin and wound healing, but like magnesium, it is best to ingest, as penetration through the protective barrier is minimal.3
Kamacite and Taenite: These are alloys composed of about 90 percent iron and 10 percent nickel. First, nickel is a known sensitizing agent and can cause allergies in 10 to 20 percent of the population. Second, even though iron may penetrate skin and plays a role in collagen production, when it is linked together with nickel, who cares.4 When a Safety Data Sheet instructs to wash this alloy off skin and seek medical attention if irritation persists, best to leave it out of a night cream.5
Silica: Essential to the health of many tissues such as bones, teeth, hair, skin, and nails, it must be ingested to do its job. Rubbing it on skin will not provide any benefit and might dry it out, as it acts like a desiccant, pulling moisture out of the tissue.
Bottom line? Best to leave these space specimens out of the beauty business and in a museum where they can be studied and help preserve the geological heritage of the area.
1 National Geographic Society Resource Library, s.v. “Meteorite.” https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/meteorite/
2 Gröber, U., T. Werner, J. Vormann, and K. Kisters. “Myth or reality – transdermal magnesium?” Nutrients 9, no. 8 (2017): 813.
3 Celli, A., D. Crumrine, J.M. Meyer, and T.M. Mauro. “Endoplasmic reticulum calcium regulates epidermal barrier response and desmosomal structure.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology 136, no. 9 (2016): 1840-1847.
4 Modepalli, N., H.N. Shivakumar, K.L. Kanni, and S.N. Murthy. “Transdermal iron replenishment therapy.” Therapeutic Delivery 6, no. 6 (2015):661-8.
5 “ESPI Metals.” Iron Nickel Alloy Safety Data Sheet. http://www.espimetals.com/index.php/954-msds/iron-nickel-alloy/973-iron-nickel-alloy