Mineral Makeup Facts and Myths Article

Most women use makeup on daily basis. What ensues for some of them are skin irritations ranging from mild rashes to severe breakouts of acne. With increasing attention turning toward mineral makeup, most women rightly ask if this is the healthy answer.


Looking at the Ingredients of Mineral Makeup

The common components of mineral makeup are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and mica, which could also be found in products without the mineral label.

However, dermatologists report that mineral makeup is commonly without classic irritants. For women, this means that potential toxins cannot get into their pores and aggravate the skin. “Mineral makeup eliminates classic irritants – like fragrances, binders, synthetic dyes, and preservatives — it is considered “purer” and is kinder to the skin.” says Colette Bouchez, an award-winning medical journalist with more than 20 years of experience.


What's Not in Mineral Makeup

What make mineral makeup different from traditional makeup aren’t the ingredients it contains, but what’s left out. That list, for many leading brands, includes preservatives, mineral oil, chemical dyes, and fragrance - these are all possible causes of irritation. Products without these ingredients are definitely better for you than the chemical-laden makeup you typically see on the shelves – number one reason many dermatologists recommend mineral makeup. 

Chicago dermatologist Brooke Jackson, MD, who uses mineral makeup herself, recommends it to patients with rosacea and eczema. She also suggests it to a highly frustrated group of women. “Women in their 30s and 40s will come in and say they have bathroom counters filled with products that have caused reactions because of one ingredient or another,” Jackson says. “When they try mineral products, many are finally able to wear makeup for the first time in their lives.”

Dermatologists also state that mineral cosmetics are non-comedogenic. This is an attribute that permits the skin to breathe and does not exacerbate existing conditions such as chronic dryness, acne or rosacea. “I’m very bullish on mineral makeup,” says New York dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD. “It’s much less likely to cause a reaction in women with sensitive skin. And because it doesn’t contain silicones and oils, it won’t aggravate acne-prone skin.” Dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, Dermatologist, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York, agrees. "It's non-comedongenic, so it won't clog pores, and it's not going to aggravate an acne condition or cause a flare-up as easily as some traditional makeup can".

Finally, reports of allergic reactions to mineral cosmetics rarely occur. Kathryn Frew, MD, staff dermatologist at Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York, a diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology states, “Make-up sensitivity is often the result of synthetic dyes, fragrances, and preservatives, so any make-up that eliminates these is going to eliminate some of the related problems.”


Skin Care Benefits

Mineral makeup won’t take the place of your moisturizer, but it does offer some skin care benefits.

While many women wear makeup to enhance their outer beauty, researchers at The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that wearing mineral makeup is actually a good sun block. The website advises, “Mineral makeup is a great option to layer over an SPF 15+ product to further protect the face. Because the natural minerals in the makeup are water resistant and “bond” to the skin, they won’t wash away, smear or “melt” when you sweat or when rain or snow lands on your face – making mineral makeup ideal as a sunscreen supplement.”

The difference is also in the type of sunscreen mineral makeup offers. Basically there are 2 types of sunscreens available: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens protect our skin by absorbing the sun rays while physical sunscreens work by reflecting the sun rays back into the air. Chemical sunscreens are often lighter and easy to apply without leaving much residue. However, because chemical sunscreens penetrate into the skin and cause a chemical reaction, there have been toxicity concerns about them such as allergies, photo-sensitivities, hormonal disruption, and increased oxidative damage and aging of the skin due to free radicals they may generate. A safer alternative are physical sunscreens which are the 2 minerals: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, the key broad-spectrum protectors from sun damage. They act like mirrors on the skin to reflect the sun’s rays. Since these minerals sit on the skin, there are no instances of allergic reactions to sunscreens even for people with sensitive skin.

Many of us choose to forgo the greasy 30spf cream on our face daily because of the long term effects of clogging our pores. But this makeup allows the pores to breath and a uniform application of mineral makeup will provide some sun protection. Diane S. Berson, MD, states that persons who will be exposed to the sun for only a short time can wear mineral cosmetics without adding sunscreen. “It’s sufficient for those days when you’re just running a few errands outside” Jackson agrees.

Some dermatologists claim that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have anti-inflammatory properties, thus producing a calming effect on the skin. According to them, these ingredients can actually be beneficial for persons who suffer from conductions like acne and rosacea. What’s more, says Nikita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist at Englewood Lab in New Jersey, zinc oxide is FDA-approved as a skin protectant. “It has some anti-inflammatory properties, so you’ll see it in products like diaper-rash ointment. Since mineral makeup contains a higher percentage of zinc oxide than traditional makeup, it can be useful in calming irritated skin.” Dr. Frew explains that because titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have anti-inflammatory properties, mineral makeup can have a calming effect on the skin which this is especially beneficial for patients suffering from rosacea and acne as it is less irritating than traditional makeup and is less likely to cause acne flare-ups or aggravate rosacea.

Plastic surgery and laser treatments are becoming more and more popular these days. The problem with this is the healing stage after procedure is finished. Many skincare professionals recommend using mineral makeup for post-procedure treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser resurfacing to not only effectively camouflage redness and bruising, but also to calm cutaneous insult because of its healing and nourishing properties. These properties make it the perfect choice for patients to use right after having plastic surgery performed. Now, many women choose to go beyond the basics and use mineral makeup after surgery.

A plastic surgery consultant in New York, Wendy Lewis, says, "I always recommend mineral makeup after surgery, as its non reactive." Patients love mineral makeup because it produces a smooth finish that is flawless. “In my practice, I have found the use of medical grade mineral cosmetics by my patients to be of benefit by decreasing down time after aesthetic procedures and promoting compliance with sun protection”, said  Hema Sundaram, MD, a dermatologist who is the author of "Face Value: The Truth about Beauty-and a Guilt-Free Guide to Finding It."

Organization websites including the Rosacea and Skin Cancer Foundations have mentioned the benefits of mineral foundation makeup use in several articles. 

Mineral foundation user Joan Saunders says, “Mineral foundation has changed my life.  I had rosacea and acne as a teenager and wasn’t expecting to have it as an adult.  There I was at 32, pregnant with dermatologist tested rosacea and the ugly acne that came with it. After reading website information from others that suffered from rosacea, I decided to try one of the mineral foundations recommended.  Within 3 weeks my rosacea and acne were completely cleared up and my skin looked healthy.  I had the glow everyone talks about during pregnancy.  I would never go back to chemical cosmetics.  I don’t want rosacea or acne again.”


Possible Risks

But with all of these benefits, there are of course possible downfalls. But these downfalls only come from buying products without looking into the list of ingredients.

The current trend in mineral makeup is to produce even finer powder. Manufacturers advertise their "fluffy," light product. The finer the powder, the lighter the makeup. Some manufacturers of mineral makeup are using ingredients micronized into ultra-small particles called nanoparticles, so small in fact that they can penetrate the skin’s barrier and may cause side effects that are not yet reported. "Research shows that when some molecules are dramatically reduced in size to the level of a nanoparticle, they can have very different and very toxic properties than that same molecule would have in its conventional size," says Jane Houlihan, research director of consumer agency The Environmental Working Group in Washington. "Minerals like zinc and titanium are safe when applied to healthy skin but in a micronized nanoparticle form, there remains a concern, particularly when applied to damaged skin" says Houlihan. Does this mean that all mineral cosmetics then are unsafe? The answer of course no, it depends on the brand and its formulation.  Nano-sized particles, also referred to as micronized particles, are used by some mineral makeup companies, but not all, so again it is necessary to do your homework and learn which brands avoid the use of micronized particles in their ingredients.

Some media reports have advised women to scan labels for bismuth oxychloride, the ingredient that gives makeup its pearly finish. It’s been said to cause skin irritation, itching, rashes and acne flare-ups as well, leading some mineral makeup companies to eliminate it from their formulas. Kathryn Frew, MD, says "Bismuth oxychloride is considered a skin irritant and can cause itching and rashes and in large amounts it can cause cystic acne as well – it's one of the ingredients you should try to avoid if you have acne or rosacea or sensitive skin."

As mineral makeup products have proliferated, a funny thing has happened. Cosmetics companies have added back the ingredients they omitted when they first introduced mineral makeup. Mineral makeup has gone far beyond its modest beginnings as loose powder products. Today, you can find pressed products, and even liquid foundations presented as mineral products. After reading the list of ingredients of a so-called “mineral eye shadow” from one of the brands, Wilson laughs, “If you hadn’t told me that was the ingredients list of a mineral product, I would have said it was just your run-of-the-mill eye shadow.” As for so-called liquid mineral foundations, Wilson says “it’s impossible to create a liquid product with a pared-down ingredients list. Because microbes thrive in water, a liquid formulation must include some kind of preservative”. Without it, contaminated products can lead to skin infections.


The bottom line

If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, your best choice is good quality mineral makeup. For lucky ones, mineral makeup will do no harm and, with some practice of the right application method, you will find yourself enjoying its camouflaging abilities, vivid colors and flawless results.

Mineral makeup benefits in short:

  • Natural, long-lasting, water resistant, weightless coverage corrects most skin problems.
  • Chemical -free broad spectrum sun protection.
  • Endorsed by cosmetic and plastic surgeons, dermatologist and aestheticians and used by professionals for post-procedural coverage.
  • Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties are ideal for rosacea and acne prone skin.
  • Non-comedogenic, oil- and silicone- free, does not block the skin's pores and allows skin to breathe.
  • Free of synthetic dyes, artificial fragrances or petrochemicals, making it ideal for people with sensitive skin.
  • Light-reflective minerals minimize appearance of fine lines and deliver a healthy-looking radiant glow.


  • http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/cosmetics/talc.htm
  • http://www.skincancer.org/saving-face-with-mineral-makeup.html
  • http://greenlivingideas.com/topics/fashion-and-beauty/cosmetics/mineral-cosmetics-healthy-or-hazardous
  • http://www.webmd.com/health-ehome-9/mineral-makeup?page=3
  • http://www.lsinj.com/press/052007.html
  • http://www.hellolife.net/explore/natural-beauty/how-healthy-is-mineral-makeup/