Mineral Makeup

November 8, 2012

If you wear makeup all day, it makes sense to choose a product that works in synergy with your skin. Most conventional makeup has synthetic chemicals that not only block the skin’s pores but also rob it of vitamins. These ingredients include lead, mineral oil, aluminum, formaldehyde and parabens, all of which are toxic to human tissue.

Thankfully, there are many brands popping up on the market that offer beautiful, healthy formulas that are even more effective at covering spots and giving the skin a smooth, airbrushed appearance than conventional products. The irony is the ingredients used in these new formulations are minerals as old as the earth itself and used by various cultures for skin decoration for millennia.

Mineral makeup is a powder comprising loose pigments: natural minerals such as zinc and titanium dioxide and iron oxides, ingredients that can be brushed on the skin lightly to give a translucent glow or layered to give a more made-up appearance. The benefits of mineral makeup are twofold:

  • The minerals zinc and titanium dioxide reflect UV rays, so increase your SPF when you wear them, and they are almost sweat-proof as they adhere to the skin well (without being occlusive).
  • They are an excellent solution for those with sensitive skin and skin problems from acne and rosacea as they are non-irritating and the pigments don’t clog the skin’s pores. In fact, zinc itself is regarded as an antioxidant and has soothing properties (think calamine lotion).

While there are some beautiful, clean mineral makeup brands on the market, it’s important to be vigilant in reading labels as some companies are riding the mineral makeup wave without offering the real deal Some of them claim to sell true mineral makeup but employ cheap fillers such as talc, used to give a more matte appearance but also a known toxin. Bismuth oxychloride is another popular ingredient used in faux mineral makeup to give the skin a reflective sheen but it is a well-known skin irritant.

If you want that extra-reflective glow, look for brands that use mica, a natural mineral from the earth that offers a lovely sparkle. When it comes to tones and colours in makeup, look for brands that use natural iron oxides rather than chemical dyes that are derived from coal tar and known to be toxic to human health.

When it comes to mineral pigments, it could be that size matters. Some companies have created minerals in nanoparticle size to give a translucent appearance but some scientists and healthcare professionals believe such tiny particles can be absorbed by human tissue. Professor Epstein of the University of Illinois believes they may absorb UV light, transporting solar radiation into the body. The jury is still out, but the TGA in Australia says. ‘To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells; they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin that is composed of non-viable cells.” Some companies use micronised minerals rather than nanonised to avoid any possible health risks. Micronised minerals offer translucency without being so small that they can be absorbed into the skin. This is rarely advertised on the packaging so. if you have concerns, you might like to contact the company directly. The other way to ensure your mineral makeup is free of nasties and nanoparticles is to look for certification logos such as ACO, OFC or NASAA.

If you are more partial to a liquid foundation than a loose-pigment powder, there are new natural liquid mineral foundations on the market that boast many of the benefits of a mineral powder but also offer other properties such as moistunsation and hydration. They go on the skin like a conventional foundation but stil! offer the protective benefits of loose pigment mineral makeup. They also give the skin a dewy glow, unlike powder, which gives a more matte finish. Again, ensure that the liquid foundation is rich in plant extracts, natural emulsifiers and preservatives, not chemical fillers and synthetic preservatives.

Applying loose mineral powder is easy, although it can be messy until you perfect the art. Dip a thick, bristled brush into the powder and tap off the excess before brushing onto the skin. Use upward movements to blend over the face. Repeat the process over problem areas or where you want a heavier coverage. It’s worth going into a store to be colour-matched to make sure you are getting the best colour for your complexion.

If you want a less made-up appearance, mineral makeup offers more for less, but ensuring your diet is balanced and healthy will help give your skin a glow that no amount of cosmetics can replicate.

To prime your skin topically before applying makeup, above is a lovely recipe that will dissolve dead skin cells and rejuvenate the complexion as well as promote smooth makeup application.

Makeup Primer Mask with papaya, lime and green tea

2 tbsp papaya juice, 1 tbsp green tea, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1½ tsp citrus pectin

Mix the liquids together and slowly mix in the citrus pectin to achieve a gel-like consistency. Apply and leave for 10 minutes until dried and remove with a warm, damp flannel.

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