Mineral makeup is all the rage these days. But does it live up to its reputation as the latest and greatest thing?
What is mineral makeup?
As its name suggests, mineral makeup is made from minerals. A mineral like talc, zinc oxide, ultramarine or titanium dioxide is ground down (the fancy term is ‘micronized’) into tiny little pieces and— violà!—it’s makeup. Different levels of micronization produce different-sized particles that, in turn, provide different levels of coverage. For example, a light powder will likely have smaller particles than a heavy-duty foundation (which will likely also be mixed with water or mineral oil).
How is mineral makeup different from traditional makeup?
Ask any devotee of mineral makeup why they use it, and the answer will probably contain the words ‘pure’ , ‘natural’ and ‘healthy.’ Mineral makeup lacks the artificial and sometimes harmful substances used in traditional cosmetics. For example, mineral makeup does not have parabens or phthalates. Parabens are man-made compounds with anti-microbial properties that are used as preservatives to make cosmetics last longer. Phthalates are chemicals used to increase the flexibility of plastic.
Although both substances are commonly used in traditional makeup, studies suggest both may be harmful to humans. (The Food and Drug Administration says that parabens act similar to estrogen in the body and could increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and the Centers for Disease Control reports that phthalates have been found to disrupt animal reproductive systems in laboratory tests.) According to its promoters, because mineral makeup is made without these or other chemicals, it is much healthier to use.
But it’s important to be sure that the mineral makeup you’re using doesn’t contain other substances, even other minerals, that could be harmful. A study in Canada, for example, found that almost half of all mineral makeup contained lead or arsenic! And some are asking whether titanium dioxide, which is often used in sunscreens, is actually a carcinogen—a cancer-causing substance.
How can I keep myself safe when using mineral makeup?
Always avoid any makeup containing lead or arsenic. Both are known to be dangerous to human health, yet both are commonly used in traditional cosmetics. While mineral makeup manufacturers usually steer clear of lead and arsenic, both are technically minerals and so would be at home in a list of ingredients. Your best bet? Always read the label.
Be careful about makeup containing mica. Mica is a mineral found in rocks and granite. It has long been used in industrial projects, but it’s now a popular ingredient in mineral makeup thanks to its transparency and excellent light-reflecting properties. In other words, mica gives your face a healthy, clean lustrous glow. Still, some worry that mica in powders is ground so fine that it can be inhaled and cause damage to the lungs.
There are no studies examining whether this is truly a cause for concern. To avoid any possible damage to your lungs, use liquid foundations rather than powder whenever possible. If you can’t live without your powder, use a pressed powder with a pad applicator, rather than loose powder that you apply with a brush.
Avoid products that contain petroleum-based ingredients (such as petroleum jelly or propylene glycol). Read all labels and make sure you understand what every ingredient is and what it does. And if you have any questions, call the manufacturer and ask what’s in their stuff.
Where can you buy mineral makeup?
As mineral makeup rises in popularity, it’s become height=”auto” easier to find and purchase, particularly online. One of the best known manufacturers of mineral makeup is Bare Escentuals, whose Bare Minerals division offers Get Started Kits for various skin types and tones. Amazon also features a mineral makeup category with cosmetics from various companies. You can even buy mineral makeup at Walgreens! Wherever you shop, remember to check the label so you know what you’re buying, and enjoy!