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Mineral Makeup

Updated on August 8, 2009

If you're a woman who wears makeup no doubt you've hear of mineral makeup. Perhaps you even wear it. It's been touted as being better for your skin and more natural than “regular” makeup. These days a lot of products are being sold as natural or organic and they aren't always that different from regular products. Sometimes organic products are being promoted as safer because they're all natural. But is that always the case? Aren't there such things as poisonous plants? They're all natural but they're not safe. So is mineral makeup all-natural and is it really safer? Cosmetics have a long history, they were used by the ancient Egyptians and are even mentioned in the Bible. The Egyptians crushed beetle wings (for iridescence) and even used mineral makeup. So you can see mineral makeup isn't something new. Everybody is probably familiar with paintings of Elizabeth I. During the period of the French revolution, it was desirable to have pale skin, and the ladies of the French and English courts used mineral makeup powder called ceruse to achieve that look. Unfortunately the mineral they used was lead (and mercury!), and it made them sick and gave them more skin problems than it solved, it probably even caused some women to die younger than they would have otherwise.

Elizabeth I in ceruse makeup.
Elizabeth I in ceruse makeup.

These days lead isn't used in makeup because it's dangers are well known, but it goes to show that just because something is natural, or a mineral that it isn't necessarily safe. You should still read labels to find out what's in your makeup. Max Factor was a movie make-up artist that invented a mineral based foundation in 1914 that became popular with women on and off the screen. The base of his mineral powder makeup was mineral talc, instead of wax or oil as was used previously. It was the best mineral makeup of the time, and he went on to start a cosmetic empire that still endures today. In fact Max Factors big break through called “Pan-Cake” is one of the original mineral makeup brands and has been confirmed by Proctor and Gamble (the owner of the Max Factor company) to be sold in the same original formula to this day.

Mineral Makeup Reviews

Mineral makeup is taken to mean a foundation in some sort of loose powder format. The most common minerals used in this mineral powder makeup are bismuth oxychloride, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If you think about it though, talc is also a mineral, so a foundation based on talc could also be considered a mineral makup. Most mineral makeup though makes a point of being talc free. There are lots of brands of mineral makeup cosmetics out there today. Unfortunately there aren't any sort of standards as to what makes a mineral makeup. The term is used for marketing but doesn't have any real meaning. The makeup could be pure mineral makeup, or part mineral makeup, and could even contain less than 1% mineral as part of it's formula. If you look at it like that then any makeup could be considered mineral makeup. It might also be organic, if it is USDA organic then the label must specifically mention this. Technically, organic means “belonging to the class of compounds having carbon basis” or “derived from living things”. So technically speaking, charcoal is an organic compound. That's why it's important to read labels.

Dermatologists say that it's usually the dyes and fragrances and binders in makeup that cause reactions in people. That isn't to say that the mineral couldn't cause a reaction, but they're not usually the cause. So any makeup that doesn't have binders or dyes or fragrance will probably be better on your skin than one that does. Still the minerals are the same as used in makeup not marketed as mineral. Bismuth oxychloride is one of the mineral used in mineral makeup that helps give it that “glow” but it's a mineral not found naturally in the earth, so it's not really natural mineral makup. Researchers have also found that “micronized” or finely ground minerals can be more dangerous. Zinc and titanium are safe when applied to healthy skin, but can cause problems when too finely ground. So you can see that mineral makeup isn't created equal, and isn't necessarily any better and mineral makeup reviews don't tell you all of this. So the bottom line is if you're concerned about what's in your makeup read the label and consult your doctor if you think something might be a problem.

Mineral Makeup Comments

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    • Julia M profile imageAUTHOR

      Julia M 

      9 years ago

      It would be easy to figure out who the author works for by reading her profile.

      Talc, by definition is a mineral, naturally occurring in the ground and could truthfully be called a mineral makeup and labeled as such. The whole point, (which seemed to be missed) is that just because something is a mineral doesn't make it safe or non-irritating.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This article is a prime example of how 50% of what you read on the internet it false. While it is true that artificial fragrance and color cause many skin problems, I would guess that the author in favor of talc is an employee of MaxFactor or a shareholder. As a skin care professional for over a decade, I can verify that using talc based makeup absolutely causes clogged pores which can lead to inflammatory breakouts. Switching clients from makeups containing talc to mineral makeups (bare escesntials, youngblood, colorescience, etc ) improves skin drasticaly and covers beautifully. Sometimes that is the ONE THING that improves the skin. Other times, additional skin care guidance is needed. Please, do try authentic mineral cosmetics. The fewer the ingredients the better and there are even some decent products at the drug store. Just read labels and screen for talc, artifical color and fragrance. You will be on the right track towards beautiful skin and beautiful makeup!


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