In fact, mineral makeup is now made by everyone from small, cottage suppliers to industry giants reacting to the trend among women toward choosing healthier, less toxic beauty products. The companies that create these highly pigmented pots of powder suggest that their products are safe for sensitive skin, won’t clog pores, and, according to one manufacturer, are pure enough to sleep in. But is mineral makeup really a natural way to perfect your skin? And is all mineral makeup created equal?
Know Your Ingredients
At its simplest, mineral makeup is composed of finely pulverized blends of minerals and pigments in an array of feather-light hues and effects. One staple in nearly all mineral formulations is titanium dioxide, a natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen. You may also find zinc oxide, another naturally occurring sunscreen, in mineral makeup. While both of these minerals help protect against harmful UV radiation and are considered inert, nontoxic ingredients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Royal Society in Britain have expressed concern because several cosmetic manufacturers refine these minerals into ultrafine or nanoparticle size. Although some research shows these miniscule minerals to be safe, other studies have linked inhaled nanoparticles to respiratory problems and possibly even to cancer. Your best bet is to buy from a natural manufacturer you trust. If in doubt, call the company and ask how their minerals are processed.
What’s in a Label?
Other common ingredients include natural iron oxides and ultramarine pigments. Derived from limestone, these contain the blue mineral lazurite to add color to the powder. Serecite is a lightweight, translucent mineral that gives mineral makeup its silky texture. Sparkle in a variety of colors arrives courtesy of natural mica. Because mica reflects light, it creates a soft-focus effect, which gives the illusion of smoother, more radiant skin.
When applying mineral makeup, remember that less is more. Because the powders are so richly pigmented, start by applying the smallest amount possible and buffing it in until it all but disappears. Continue to apply layer after layer until you achieve a smooth, even look. If you select loose mineral makeup, sprinkle a small amount into the container’s cap and swirl your brush into the powder to thoroughly coat the bristles. If you’re using a compact, apply the brush directly onto the pressed powder. You can also opt for liquid minerals for a creamy, more traditional-feeling product that can be applied with fingers, a cosmetic sponge, or a foundation brush. Whichever form you choose, start with a natural sunscreen and moisturizer, and make sure they are fully absorbed to prevent streaking. While using natural mineral makeup may take some practice, once you’ve perfected the technique, you’ll find that its radiant coverage lasts for hours.