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mineral-makeup_vWhen you’re putting on your favorite mineral makeup, your mind is probably on accomplishing the right coverage, that perfect smoky eye, or just looking your very best for the day ahead.

However, do you ever stop to wonder why people seem to rave about mineral makeup? And what exactly are the minerals in your makeup powder or eye shadow?

Mineral Makeup Glossary

As it turns out, there are tons of different minerals in makeup. Different minerals = different colors, and with so many different skin tones in the world, finding the right color is important. Minerals can determine everything from the shades of concealer to eye shadow.

Of course, it’s not just concealers and eye shadows that contain minerals. Minerals are found in every makeup product, whether it’s used to influence the product’s color or consistency.3,4

Here are some minerals used in makeup and their purposes:

Talc:
To help spread products; to help lessen pore build-up; associated with white and pearl pigments; used in eye shadows, blushes, powders, etc5,6
Sericite: To help spread powder on more easily7
Chalk/Kaolin: To absorb moisture; resistant to oil; often used as a filler8,9
Magnesium stearate: Helps with adhesion (long-lasting coverage)10
Zinc Oxide: To help cover skin thoroughly; has anti-inflammatory properties11,12
Titanium Dioxide: Associated with white and pearl pigments; found in eye shadow, blush, lipstick, and powders; has anti-inflammatory properties13,14
Mica: To improve skin’s overall feel, product application, and skin adhesion; found as light-diffusing pigment agents in color cosmetics; allows ease of incorporation into liquid products; associated with white and pearl pigments; used in eye shadows, powders, and lipsticks15,16
Silicone: Used as a moisturizer17,18
Silica: Used in spherical fillers*; improves skin’s feel; helps to unify ingredients19
Bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl): White powder with high density; known as a pearlescent pigment; low oil absorption; used in powder formulas; hydrophobic; associated with white and pearl pigments20,21
Iron Oxides: Associated with yellow, black, brown, and red pigments22,23
Boron Nitride: Helps to unify ingredients24
Glycerin: Used as a moisturizer25
Powdered Calcite: Absorbs moisture26
Chrome Oxide(s): Used to develop green pigments27

*Spherical fillers are just the name for makeups that have a rolling ball applicator instead of a sponge or brush.

This is a tiny snapshot of the kinds of minerals which find their way into our eyeshadows and foundations, all so we can look our best. The list is in no way a complete one – other minerals, such as bronze, copper, aluminum, silver, and more, are also popular minerals in makeup.28,29

What Are The Benefits of Mineral Makeup?

mineral makeupMost can benefit from mineral makeup, whether looking to smooth over some imperfections, or just get some basic coverage against the sun’s rays.32,33

1. Mineral Makeup Looks Good on Camera

If you’re going to be at a special event, say a wedding or red carpet gala, where you’ll be photographed a lot, mineral makeup is excellent. It gives full coverage while still looking natural in photographs.

2. Ideal for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin

Even though mineral makeup isn’t proven to help prevent acne, some of its ingredients have some pretty beneficial properties. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help with skin irritation.34And it’s lighter than foundation, so this could also reduce pores getting clogged—which leads to breakouts.

3. Anti-Aging Effects

While makeup can’t actually turn back time, it can help you look a little younger. Ingredients like mica and talc can provide smooth coverage, helping skin look brighter and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles (it doesn’t settle in fine lines like cream foundation can).

4. Provides Sun Protection

Used with a moisturizer with SPF, mineral makeup foundation can be a powerful defense against the sun’s damaging rays. Commonly found in mineral makeup, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two ingredients that offer sun protection.

Minerals to Avoid in Your Makeup

The FDA regulations are pretty laid out on what should and shouldn’t be in our makeup, so there are a few ingredients that should we should all steer clear of:

Kohl

This color additive, (known as al-kahl, kajal, or surma in some parts of the word) is actually a cause for concern.

It’s unapproved for cosmetic use in the U.S. because it contains the salts of heavy metals, such as antimony and lead. There have been issues with kohl in the past, where no ingredient declaration was used and where it has been labeled “FDA approved.” Kohl has also been linked to lead poisoning in children.35

Lead

Obviously, this is definitely something to stay away from. The FDA regulates how much lead should be in makeup.36

Some amounts of lead have been found in lipsticks, but the amounts were said to be tiny, with little risk that it would be absorbed into the skin.37

For lipsticks, the lead amount shouldn’t be more 2 parts per million (ppm). If you’re worried about the lead content in your lipsticks, a simple, quick research session should provide you the information you’d need to determine if any lead is in your favorite lipstick brands.38

Mineral Makeup vs. Regular Makeup

Mineral Makeup | Beverly Hills MDSo is mineral makeup better than regular makeup? That’s a good question! The fact is — there are pros and cons to both mineral makeup and regular makeup. Here’s a quick overview of those pros and cons:

Regular makeup

Regular makeup (especially foundation) tends to be easier to apply. Regular makeup also comes in a wider variety of shades, so you’ll be more likely to match your skin tone exactly. Of course — as the mineral makeup industry expands, it’ll become easier to find a tone that matches you.

The drawbacks of regular makeup? They contain preservatives. Now, these preservatives aren’t bad in and of themselves — but they may cause irritation in people who are prone to skin sensitivity.

Mineral makeup

Mineral ingredients don’t require preservatives, so they can be less irritating to sensitive skin.

The downside? Mineral makeup can be tricky if you have oily skin. The powdered ingredients can absorb the oil, which can cause a cakey, uneven look.

When it comes to mineral makeup vs. regular makeup — it’s most important to pay attention to what works for your skin. If you tend not to be very sensitive, you may do just fine with regular makeup. If you struggle with sensitive skin, on the other hand, it may be worth experimenting with mineral products.

Conclusion

Since its introduction in the 1970s, mineral makeup has been an ever evolving industry. Today, it can be found in virtually any drugstore, grocery store, or beauty supply store.

You’ve probably been using it for ages…perhaps since your early days of high school with that bright blue eyeshadow to the high-tech mineral makeup foundation you have now.

Now you actually know what you’re putting on your face, not just how it looks and reacts to your skin tone.

So, the next time you go out for some new makeup, you’ll be all the wiser about how it’s made, what ingredients are used, and what that means for you.

Article updated: March 27, 2018


Sources

1FDA Authority Over Cosmetics: How Cosmetics Are Not FDA-Approved, but Are FDA-Regulated. Fdagov. 2013. Accessed October 27, 2016.
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