Proponents of mineral makeup claim that it not only gives you great coverage and looks completely natural, but it can also clear up acne and soften your skin. So, is it worth all the hype? Check out these FAQ's to find out.

What Is It?

Mineral makeup consists of various combinations of natural minerals like zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, talc, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, combined with natural pigments. "Wet" mineral makeup such as lipstick also contains wax and oil. While they've recently gained tremendous popularity, using crushed minerals for cosmetic purposes dates back to Ancient Egypt.

What Makes It Different than Regular Makeup?

Mineral makeup is essentially just a powder-based makeup. But unlike petroleum-based cosmetics which can clog pores, mineral makeup is usually free from additives, dyes, and fragrances, making it gentler on the skin. Its natural SPF and heavy camouflaging properties have helped to make it so popular.

Is It Natural?

Well, sort of. Minerals are naturally occurring substances, but in makeup they are crushed into tiny particles that some scientists worry could have negative effects. However, no research has shown that it has adverse effects on the skin unless you have a rare allergy.

Who Should Use Mineral Makeup?

The shiny mica in mineral makeup can emphasize oiliness and cake in wrinkles. So if your skin is very oily or wrinkled it may not work for you. However, so many different formulations are available that it may just take more trial and error to find the right one for you. People with darker skin tones may also have a harder time finding the right shades.

Can It Clear Up Problem Skin?

Since mineral makeup tends to be additive-free, it is often better for problem skin than traditional makeup.  While it doesn't contain any medications, minerals like zinc-oxide do have skin-calming properties which some acne sufferers claim have helped reduce breakouts. People with rosacea tend to like the superior coverage it can offer. Because some products do contain potential irritants, read the ingredients carefully, particularly if you have sensitive skin.

Which One Should I Choose?

Look for mineral makeup that's formulated for your skin type. If you have problem skin, steer clear of products that contain bismuth oxychloride, since this binder that can actually aggravate acne. Mica, which gives this makeup a glow, is suspected to cause micro-tears in the skin ,so look for a product that has this in small quantities.

Is It Hard to Apply?

Because mineral makeup has few binders, it can be messy to apply. Dust it into your skin a little at a time. Also, it's better to combine it with sunscreen, since the advertised SPF levels were likely calculated based on the assumption that you're slathering it on your face.

The bottom line

While mineral makeup may be a good cosmetic option, it's not a panacea for healing or disguising skin issues. If you're on the hunt for a new foundation, it's certainly worth giving a try, but don't expect miracles.




NPR story

American Chronicle story

NYTimes Article

The Dermatology Blog