La Mer recently launched The Treatment Powder Foundation ($90) and, like all things La Mer, there is a lot less to it than meets the price tag and a few things that I'd rather not see, let alone put on my face.

The dominant ingredient in La Mer's face powder is talc. Talc particles have dangerous similarities to asbestos. In 1973, the FDA drafted a resolution that would limit the amount of asbestos-like fibers in cosmetic grade talc. However, no ruling has ever been made and today, cosmetic grade talc remains non-regulated by the federal government. Anyhow, a 1993 National Toxicology Program report found that cosmetic grade talc, without any asbestos-like fibers, caused tumors in animals. Studies have shown a strong link between frequent use of talc in the female genital area and ovarian cancer. However, the American Cancer Association says that the risk is probably small. And the genitals is not an area that La Mer's foundation is destined to be used on. Still, it does give pause for thought. The late Senator Kennedy and a group of cancer charities have lobbied the FDA to get talc banned.

Talking of cancer, polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether can be contaminated with carcinogens. Ingredients with more than 15 letters can look scary, but what of one with 49! To boot, it is also mysterious. What little information I found on pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate suggests that it is a stabilizer. The Cosmetic Database only notes concerns regarding organ system toxicity and it also seems to pollute marine life.

As Copley pointed out in her article on the stuff they put in mineral makeup, silica and boron nitride are little more than fillers. As would be octyldodecyl, although it usefully prevents water loss. A filler of a different kind - in that it fills wrinkles rather than the product - is Poly(methyl methacrylate), or PMMA, widely known as a plastic component used in products such as plexiglass and other transparent glass substitutes.

Of the minerals, only malachite really qualifies as one of the gemstones that La Mer says Powder Foundation is teeming with. The other, zeolite, is used to absorb moisture in refrigerators. Still, there is antioxidant yeast extract. That's got to make La Mer The Treatment Powder Foundation worth ninety bucks.

Ingredients

Titanium dioixide 4.90%, octinoxate 4.50%

Talc, dimethicone, silica, boron nitride, octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate, nylon-12, polymethyl methacrylate, yeast extract, polyglyceryl-3, disostearate, polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether, methicone, malachite, tourmaline, zeolite, caprylyl glycol, oryzanol, tocpherol acetate, calcium carbonate, pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t Butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate, hexylene glycol, zinc oxide (C177947), Iron Oxides (C177492, C177499)