Dr. Leslie Baumann
In the past 10 years or so, mineral makeup has morphed from a health-food store item to full-fledged phenomenon. Today, just about every line from the drugstore to the department store in offering some foundation with “mineral” in the label, but it takes more than semantics to get a real mineral makeup.
In essence, mineral makeup is comprised solely of mineral-based pigments—mainly titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica and iron oxide—which is good news for sensitive and reactive skins. With limited ingredients and a lack of fillers, preservatives and synthetic ingredients, the risk of irritation is close to none. And because there are no oils, this is good news for acne-prone skin with pores that are easily clogged.
These minerals leave a naturally radiant finish, and many women find that mineral makeup has better staying power than their conventional counterparts, especially in humid climates. These foundations may also provide a little extra sun protection (surely you’ve seen titanium dioxide and zinc oxide on sunscreen labels) though not enough to skip your daily SPF. In fact, recent new rules put forth by the FDA say that powders can no longer claim they provide SPF (and we brought attention to this a few years back.) Even more, the zinc oxide found in most mineral makeups can have an anti-inflammatory effect, so mineral foundations may actually help improve your skin as you wear it.
Years ago, mineral foundations only came in loose powder forms, but today you can find liquids and pressed powders as well. One of the biggest complaints about mineral makeup (especially from women with dry skin or wrinkles) is that it can settle into creases. You can sidestep this potential pitfall by using a primer, or trying a liquid formulation. Many companies have gone beyond foundation and introduced mineral-based blushes, eyeshadows and other color products. But as with cosmeceuticals, it’s important to read labels to make sure you’re really getting mineral makeup. This is one case where the label doesn’t lie.