Mineral makeup: the lowdown

14 January 2016

Mineral makeup

Mineral makeup has been dividing expert opinion for years. Whilst some claim it collects in fine lines and dries skin out, others say it looks more natural than conventional makeup and wears better too.

Here we separate the facts from the fiction.

What’s the difference between mineral makeup and traditional makeup?

When it comes to mineral cosmetics, it’s not so much a case of what it has over traditional makeup; it’s more a case of what it doesn’t have.

Although all makeup contains minerals, many leading mineral brands leave out harsh ingredients, such as parabens, fragrance, preservatives and oil. And it is for that reason some dermatologists believe mineral makeup is an ideal choice for women with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.

Where does it come from?

You would be forgiven for thinking that mineral cosmetics are an all “green” option but the truth is this category of makeup is not strictly natural.

As Boots WebMD point out, many of the ingredients in mineral makeup cannot simply be mined, pulverised and decanted into a compact. Take key mineral makeup ingredient titanium dioxide for an example. Although it does start out life as natural titanium, before it can be safely used in makeup, it must be purified in the lab. This is because naturally sourced titanium is often contaminated with chemicals such as lead and mercury.

Once the minerals have been sourced and prepared, they are micronized into tiny particles to create makeup.

Mineral makeup claims unpicked

”It provides sun protection”

One claim is that mineral makeup can be used as a sunscreen. Although this may be true to some extent as mineral makeup does indeed contain FDA-approved sunscreen mineral titanium oxide, it is often unclear from product packaging how much foundation you would have to use to obtain full protection.

”You can sleep in it”

Many mineral makeup brands claim it is so gentle you can sleep in it but dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, says she would advise against sleeping in any kind of makeup to avoid skin irritation and clogging of the pores.

”It dries skin out”

Some people think that because mineral foundation comes in powder form it will leave skin feeling dry. This, however, is not the case as makeup artist Kenneth Soh explained to Cosmopolitan, "Pure pigment mineral foundations are made of super-fine pigments only; they don't contain ingredients like talc which absorb moisture and can leave a cakey finish. Pure pigment almost melts into skin and blends with your natural oils, giving gorgeous soft coverage."

Vikki Khan, creator of Lily Lolo Mineral Makeup, also noted that minerals such as magnesium and zinc, which are often found in mineral makeup, help the skin to preserve moisture.

“It can calm irritated skin”

Zinc oxide is an FDA-approved skin protectant that is found in many over-the-counter products, such as nappy-rash cream. Since many mineral products contain a high percentage of zinc oxide, it is possible that they can be useful in calming irritated skin.

”Avoid bismuth oxychloride”

There have been reports from the media advising women to avoid products that contain bismuth oxychloride – the ingredient that gives both conventional and mineral makeup its pearly finish. However, according dermatologist Brooke Jackson, MD, only a small minority of people with very sensitive skin will find themselves irritated by the ingredient.

Do you use mineral makeup? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

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