Amongst the vast selection of makeup and skincare products, it can be really easy for newbies to buy products based on labels that “sound good” without understanding what they truly mean. One such label is mineral makeup. People generally associate mineral makeup with the concepts of natural, safe, good for skin, light… etc. but what really is mineral makeup? And is mineral makeup really good for you?
What is mineral makeup?
Mineral makeup has been around since the 1970s as a movement away from chemicals and potentially harmful artificial ingredients found in regular makeup. Let’s be clear that the definition of mineral makeup can be quite vague. Any product with minerals in the ingredients can be advertised as mineral makeup. However, to provide the most benefits, true mineral makeup generally needs to:
Contain 100% naturally occurring minerals mined from the Earth
Free of dyes, artificial chemicals, preservatives, fragrances, filters…etc.
Mineral makeup should be simple, with the minerals grounded into fine powders.
Common minerals you will find in mineral makeup include:
- iron oxides – provides the colour and shade
- zinc oxides – protects your skin and provides SPF – found in sunscreens. Research also shows zinc oxides to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects .
- titanium oxides – another ingredient used in sunscreens
- talc / mica – helps to keep the product on and sometimes used as a filler. Talc absorbs oil and gives a more matte appearance while mica helps give more glow and radiance.
Talc is composed of hydrated magnesium silicate, many people know it as baby powder. Controversially, talc is reported to cause some lung diseases. However, talc associated diseases are often due to direct administration of talc into the body or exposure to talc powder in massive quantities (e.g. for mine workers, regular use of large amounts of baby powders, grinding of asbestos…etc.) In fact, there are very few cases of disease caused by inhalation of cosmetic talc. [2,3] If you are really concerned about talc or mica inhalation, find products marked talc and mica free.
Benefits and myths
The most advertised attribute of mineral makeup is natural. This is definitely true in terms that minerals are naturally existing compounds of nature. However, beware that:
- mineral makeup ≠ 100% natural: as mentioned before, the definition of mineral makeup is pretty vague and some products will still contain additives or chemicals. Be sure to check the ingredients list.
- mineral ≠ safe: there are synthetic minerals added to some products that could be potentially harmful to your skin. One notable example is bismuth oxychloride, added to products to provide a silky feel but is reported to cause irritation for the skin.
- natural ≠ do not need to remove: it is not recommended to wear mineral makeup at night since they are still not skincare products
Perhaps the most natural part of mineral makeup is what it doesn’t contain – chemicals, dyes, and preservatives. Keeping those away from the face is more beneficial than what you put on your face.
Reduces acne and breakouts
If you read through the ingredient list of most mineral makeup products, you will see that none of the ingredients actually reduces or heals acne and breakouts. There may be some anti-inflammatory and sun protection effects but it’s not enough to actively improve your skin condition. However, if your breakouts are caused by chemicals in other products, switching to mineral makeup will definitely help reduce irritation and make sure your skin does not get worse.
Due to relatively fewer ingredients in mineral makeup compared to conventional products, these products are usually more long-lasting, both on the face and on the shelf. However, take this with a grain of salt as there are many great products that will offer long term coverage and not necessarily mineral based.
This is something I still have to experiment with myself but mineral makeup can be very versatile. Thanks again to the simple mineral ingredients, you are able to mix with other products to customize the exact tone, consistency, and effect desired.
Some popular mineral makeup brands in recent years include GloMinerals, BareMinerals, Mineral Essence, Pur Cosmetics, Jopa Minerals, and Jane Iredale…etc. Popular products also exist with none-exclusive mineral brands such as the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 and the MAC Mineralize products.
Laura Mercier Mineral Powder – one of the most loved powders by beauty bloggers and makeup experts alike. Gives the face a smooth, radiant finish with 8 shades to choose from.
MAC Mineralize Eyeshadow – beautiful colours that are pigmented, creamy, and light.
GloMinerals Pressed Base – long lasting, evens out skin tones, diminishes pores. Talc free.
Personally, some mineral products I have tried are from Motives and had a good experience so far. Motives is a less well known brand but offers good quality products at more reasonable price ranges.
Motives Mineral Baked Eye Shadow Trio* – probably my favourite product so far that I have used everyday for the past 2 months (and still barely made a dent!). The three colours (I choose Intelligence) are good to use together or in duo combinations to create a warm day-time look or a fiercer effect for events. I find the shadow is really smooth, no fall-outs, and gives colour without being heavy so it is really friendly to newbies. Even with not perfectly blended lines it looks really natural and I can layer the shadow until I get the desired effect. The shadow also has a tiny shimmer that gives the look a beautiful glow.
Motives Mineral Lipstick* – my first mineral lipstick, in colour Citrus. The colour is a very beautiful red with a hint of orange, I like to lightly dab on the inner corner of my lips to give a very natural matte finish. This lipstick contains several oils (castor, jojoba, avocado) and waxes to help hydrate and protect the skin, however, because I have very very dry lips due to orthodontists I generally still need to use chapstick to help keep my lips from drying.
*FYI, we get a small benefit from the sale of this product. Love Wendy. Get more details here.
 Prasad, Ananda S. “Zinc Is An Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Its Role In Human Health”. Frontiers in Nutrition 1 (2014): n. pag. Web.
 Frank, Czul and Lascano Jorge. “An Uncommon Hazard: Pulmonary Talcosis As A Result Of Recurrent Aspiration Of Baby Powder”. Respiratory Medicine CME 4.3 (2011): 109-111. Web.
 van Huisstede, A. et al. “Talcosis Due To Abundant Use Of Cosmetic Talcum Powder”. European Respiratory Review 19.116 (2010): 165-168. Web.
 “What’s Up With Mineral Makeup?”. WebMD. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
 “What Is Mineral Makeup – Is It The Best Option For Me?”. Mineralissima.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
 “Is Mineral Makeup Really Natural?”. HowStuffWorks. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.