When it comes to putting things on our skin, we’re increasingly becoming more careful to exclude harmful chemicals. But how much do we really know about the more natural options such as mineral makeup?
Dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, says, “People think mineral means natural, so they are drawn to it. Many people find out about mineral makeup when they want to go “green” with their cosmetics.”
Mineral makeup has been very popular but apparently, switching from conventional makeup isn’t for everyone. Is it right for you?
So, what’s in mineral makeup? Minerals such as iron oxides, talc, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide are micronised, or ground and milled, into tiny particles to create makeup.
“Different products micronise to different levels,” Ranger says. “A product micronised to six times leaves minerals larger so they go on the skin with light to medium coverage. Products micronised 12 times create fine-sized particles that sit closer together and offer more coverage.”
“Mineral makeup is all natural”
Mineral makeup generally does not contain the emollient oils and waxes, fragrance, and preservative ingredients found in conventional formulations and they are usually preservative-free. And since they have very low odour, they are often also fragrance-free which is great because preservatives and fragrance are often what cause irritation. However, not all mineral makeup is chemical-free. To ensure you’re buying a quality mineral makeup product, read the label. If it says “mineral-enriched” or if the formulation is liquid or mousse, these products may contain ingredients such as paraben preservatives or dimethicone added for a smooth texture. According to research, prolonged exposure to dimethicone can actually increase skin irritation, due to the coating property and because dimethicone is listed as a possible skin and eye irritant. Philippa Darbre, a senior lecturer in oncology and researcher in biomolecular sciences at the University of Reading, in England published a pivotal study that detected parabens in 18 of 20 samples of tissue from breast tumour biopsies.
“Mineral makeup can clear pimples”
One popular claim is that mineral makeup can clear up acne but according to Dr Fusco, the anti-irritating ingredients in mineral makeup like zinc can be soothing to inflammation, but it’s not likely a cure-all, she says. Despite the calming effects of zinc, she does not think mineral makeup is clearly better for acne than any other kind of cosmetics. If you have acne, she recommends using skin care products targeted to pimples. Mineral makeup also lacks filler ingredients found in conventional makeup, which can lead to less pore clogging and mean fewer breakouts. However, “Mineral makeup doesn’t make my acne worse, but it doesn’t make it better,” Hitzfeld says.
“Mineral makeup can be used as sunscreen”
Another claim is that mineral makeup acts as a sunscreen to protect skin from sun damage. Although zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, usually found in powder blends, have been approved as a skin protectant and sunscreen, the truth is, no mineral makeup is going to give you enough SPF to protect you against damaging ultraviolet rays.
Colorescience Pro, claims the product has a confirmed SPF 30, however, it’s unclear how much powder you’d have to apply to get that full protection. The best thing is to not to skip sunscreen and only dust on a coat of mineral powder with SPF for extra protection.
“Mineral makeup can soothe skin”
Although zinc oxide coloured with iron oxide which are in mineral makeup can be found in calamine lotion, there’s no proof of this claim or how much product you need for that result.
Also, even though mineral makeup can feel light on the skin, Dr Fusco still advises people against sleeping in makeup to prevent clogs and irritation – even if it’s a mineral one.