A Field Guide to Mineral Makeup
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
You've seen 100 commercials saying it's better for your skin. What's the real story?Suddenly, you're seeing it everywhere. And you might want to try it, because the effect you can get from mineral powder is unique—glowy, luminescent, the way you look under great lighting.
What is it, exactly?
Makeup (foundation, blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick) made from micronized minerals, including talc, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, says cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson. A lot (but not all) of it contains no preservatives, dyes, oils, or fragrances (check labels).
And this is good because…?
It lacks the ingredients that cause irritation, says Ranella Hirsch, MD, president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology & Aesthetic Surgery. So if you have oily skin, you won't have to worry about emollients that might clog your pores. If your skin is sensitive, you won't need to be concerned about a product containing fragrance. And zinc oxide (contained in some formulas) is a terrific sunscreen, says Wilson.
So you don't need to wear additional sunscreen?
Yes, you do! says Hirsch. Levels of UV protection in makeup aren't sufficient to provide adequate sun protection.
Is it true that mineral makeup improves the skin's texture?
Tricky question. Any product that offers some sun protection (as many mineral makeup products do) helps prevent damage resulting from UVB exposure. So you could say that a makeup containing sunscreens such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (with an SPF of at least 15) improves skin's texture by protecting it. Is that really an improvement? Maybe…in a way…kind of. But a mineral foundation can definitely enhance the look of skin's texture because of the reflective particles in the formula.
Reflective particles—Uh-oh…is the makeup shimmery and hard to apply?
A lot of mineral makeup doesn't contain the binding ingredients needed for pressed powder, which is why it's loose and soft. So it can be hard to handle—it tends to get all over the place, says New York City makeup artist Susan Giordano, unless you start with less powder on the brush: Take a light swipe only and tap excess off before you apply it. A minimal application is also a good idea because, yes, the powders are shimmery. They're also very light, so you feel as if you're not wearing makeup, says Giordano.