Mineral makeup got its commercial start in the 1970's but its history is as ancient as the human desire to enhance one's looks. Mineral makeup is a return to technologies that have been in use since ancient times. Many ancient cultures used ground-up natural minerals as a means of applying color to the skin for decoration, camouflage, war paints, etc. Cleopatra's kohl-rimmed eyes are an example. The history of mineral makeup goes back much farther, even to early cave-dwellers.
In 1976, cosmetics firms were required to list ingredients on their products for the first time many consumers were shocked at what they were putting on their skin. The growing desire for natural cosmetics coincided with the increasing number of women who identified themselves as having sensitive skin. Add in marketing and media awareness, and an aging baby boomer and the mineral make-up industry blossomed.
What is in it?
Minerals such as iron oxides, talc, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide are micronized, or ground and milled, into tiny particles to create makeup. Different products micronize to different levels. A product micronized to six times leaves minerals larger so they go on the skin with light to medium coverage. Products micronized 12 times create fine-sized particles that sit closer together and offer more coverage.
A key difference from conventional makeup is what's not in mineral makeup.It generally does not contain the emollient oils and waxes, fragrance, and preservative ingredients found in conventional formulations.
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. Items that aren't powders might also contain moisturizers, antioxidant vitamins, or other good for your skin ingredients, so it's your choice.
Is it worth it?
When it comes to mineral makeup's skin-soothing properties it is anti-inflammatory, noting that the calamine lotion you use to calm a rash is basically zinc oxide colored with iron oxide, both of which are in mineral makeup. But there's no proof of this claim or indication of how much product you need for that result. What about the claim that it's so gentle you can sleep in it? Mineral makeup's light-as-air feel is part of what makes it so popular, and tempting to sleep in. Still, experts advise against sleeping in makeup of any kind to prevent clogs and irritation.
Mineral makeup might not last as long on your face or be as durable as conventional makeup because it doesn't contain standard cosmetic ingredients such as binders, waterproof polymers, and other "stick-to-your-skin" agents. You may still need to add an SPF to your face as well. True mineral makeup is limited in its natural range of shades, so it may be difficult to find a perfect skin tone match. Today, however, there are so many brands and variations, you have unlimited choices: try Jane Iredale, GloProfessional or Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics if you are ready to make the change.