Truth #10

Not all mineral powder foundations live up to the hype.

As a makeup artist working on set or for the red carpet, I’ve been using mineral powder for quite sometime happily and successfully to finish off makeup and help it last for several hours under bright lights, humidity, rain and sweat.

Mineral powder foundation has been around for decades, but one brand with a marketing powerhouse behind it launched mineral powder to the forefront and into the hands of just about every woman in America.  Their convincing infomercials say that a dip, tap and swirl of their product are all you need to make skin look flawless, airbrushed, and glowing – all without clogging pores, while protecting skin from the sun and being resistant to water.  That can be true, but not all brands live up to the hype created around this category, nor is this makeup the answer for every woman.

Women with very dry or very oily skin aren’t well suited for powder foundation.  Powder grabs at flaking skin and separates on oily faces, settling into pores and making it look worse.  Hydrating and exfoliating well, along with a primer will help makeup look great on drier skin.  Using a light moisturizer and skin primer will help those with oily skin be able to successfully wear powder foundation.  Remember: a little goes a long way in application for mineral powders.  Going straight to the face with a brush loaded with powder is a way to make anyone’s face look dull, gunky and ashy.  If you need a refresher on applying powder and not overdoing it in the “powder danger zones” read Makeup Memo: why matte falls flat.

So did you come to believe that all mineral makeup was natural and safe?  That’s an easy assumption to make based on how they are marketed.  Minerals themselves are natural, but there are a variety of chemical fillers companies add to these foundations, which definitely aren’t natural or the best to be putting on your skin, either (see also Copley's post on Mineral Makeup - True or False).

The most popular selling brand of mineral powder foundation, among others, on the market includes an ingredient called bismuth oxychloride. Its purpose is to help with the glowy effect.  That unnatural ingredient is a skin irritant to about 80% of women and can cause severe dryness, rashes and breakouts.  Yes, a product stating that it allows skin to breath and won’t clog pores may still aggravate acne.

If you read Makeup Memo: is there glitter in your eye cream? you might have caught on that sometimes brands so desperately want you to look radiant that they even add sparkle into their cosmetics.  This marketing ploy is just as true in the mineral makeup world and I’ve seen more than a few kinds that have chunks of glitter in them.  In my opinion, any glitter in foundation is to absolutely be avoided.  It settles in weird places on the face and doesn’t really look natural, but instead more like you were doing craft time with kids.  The more subtle form of sparkle you will find in mineral powder ingredients lists is mica, which adds a luminescence and pearl shine to makeup. It’s not as obvious as chunks of glitter, but those with many wrinkles or oily skin may find the sheen doesn’t give their skin a good effect. 

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two of the main ingredients used in pretty much every brand of mineral powder foundation.  These ingredients provide coverage and can offer sun protection.  But the only way to get full protection from the sun is to coat the entire face liberally with foundation; maybe not the look you are going for.  So beware that a light dusting of powder is going to give you a lower sunscreen benefit.

There has been quite a lot of upset surrounding airborne nanoparticles with these two ingredients because some research is indicating that, inhaled over time, nanoparticles can accumulate in a toxic way in the lungs and body, and possibly enter the brain.   To be on the safe side, make sure your brand of foundation isn’t using nano-sized particles.

All that aside, there are some incredible brands of mineral powder foundation on the market, which do a great job keeping the purity of their ingredients. These brands include Alima Pure, which also ships tester sizes to customers from their incredible selection of 60 foundation shades.  I’d love to hear about some of your favorite brands and what your experiences have been.  So leave comments below!