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Mineral Make Up: Why TIA Isn't Always In Favor

December 13, 2008 Reviewed by Marta 14 Comments
A naturally trusting person of generous spirit, there are, I admit, times when a curmudgeon sits on my shoulder whispering cynical and distrustful ideas in my ear. This often happens when I am confronted with mineral make up. Don't get me wrong, there are some good ones on the market. Sadly, there are many more that are hitching a ride on a bandwagon.

First of all, just because its mineral doesn't mean it's all natural with only the kindest of intentions. In fact, many mineral cosmetics contain additives and irritants, they are difficult to apply and can make dry and aging skin look, well, dry and old.

More worryingly, some mineral powders contain a pearlizing agent that gives mineral makeup that candlelight glow. This agent is bismuth oxychloride. Strictly speaking, it is a mineral, but it's not found in the earth. Bismuth is a byproduct of lead and copper processing. Bismuth oxychloride is also frequently used to bulk up or bind products and is considered a skin irritant and, in large amounts, can cause cystic acne. It is to be avoided if you have acne, rosacea or sensitive skin.

Now, there are even minerals that should be avoided. Take talc, for example. It is widely used in make up. It is closely related to the potent carcinogen asbestos, according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition. In particular, there are numerous studies linking it to ovarian cancer (although there are some studies that contradict this and it should be noted that culprit is body powder made of talc).

Mica, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the core minerals in mineral makeup. The thing is though, they have been used in cosmetics for years, long before marketing departments decided to repackage them as something new and 'natural'. Having said that, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are anti-inflammatory and a good choice for those of sensitive skin.

There are some good mineral makeup brands that take care to keep their products pure. In the next post on this subject, we'll round up some of them.
  • August 16, 2012

    by Mary Mathews

    I use Inika, it's australian made, just mica, iron oxide and then sunblock (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) amazing coverage and doesn't irritate! esp acne skin, plus my skin, being irish background can be sensitive, helps with this too!

  • October 8, 2010

    by Rebecca

    I found this mineral makeup line called youngevity. The sales rep sent me free samples to try in this makeup tower for my skin tone. The makeup has no bismuth or any of the other nasties you find in makeup these days. I recently saw Good Morning America do a segment where they talked about the bugs and other nasties that traditional makeup is made with. Since I saw that, I only use mineral makeup and this Youngevity is pretty good. Has anyone else tried this line? The website is if anyone is interested in trying it out.

  • December 28, 2008

    by marta

    Take a look at Sterling Minerals. The texture is very good - not drying at all.

  • December 25, 2008

    by Laura

    Ack! I've been using Bare Minerals for years and years (I never use the mineral veil, though. It looks like old-lady powder on me). I have tried 4 or 5 other brands of mineral make-up, and they have been too coarse for my very fine, soft skin. This has been the only brand that has made my wrinkles (I'm 47) look less, rather than more prominent as well.

    Do any of your recommended brands go on as smoothly, and have as fine a texture as Bare Minerals?

  • December 17, 2008

    by Petra

    I love Eminence Organics Sun Defense Minerals. I rarely have time to apply makeup before leaving the home, so I love that it's in a tube with a brush applicator that I can leave in the car and apply it on the go. I don't feel that it clogs my pores and it gives me a dewy type glow and offers minimal coverage. Doesn't feel heavy and has a light refreshing scent - which I think is natural because it doesn't mention having anything perfumey.

    Suitable for all skin types, this make-up powder offers:
    • Effective SPF 30 protection
    • Water-resistant; great for exercise or swimming
    • Hypoallergenic for all skin types and great for both men and women
    • Anti-inflammatory, healing, excellent for post-treatment (especially for red or blotchy skin)
    • Clean, anti-bacterial and will not clog pores
    • Loaded with vitamins and bioflavonoids
    • Reflects the sun and keeps skin cool reducing Rosacea flare-ups and oil production
    • Available in various shades for added cosmetic coverage; darker shades can be used as a bronzer
    • Easy to use, apply and carry anywhere

    Active Ingredients: • Minerals, Fruit Extracts, Micronized Zinc Oxide, Micronized Titanium Dioxide

  • December 15, 2008

    by Sandra

    Signature Minerals offers a veil, but I never use it. I just use the foundation powder and a powder blush (Roseberry is particularly nice with my light skin). I also use the eyeshadows. The whole process takes me about 5 minutes.

  • December 15, 2008

    by Michelle

    First of all, I'd like to thank Marta for always being so prompt in responding to our questions and requests for reviews. I wonder how you do it! I always take forever to find reliable research and studies.

    Okay, now for my feedback.....

    Zoe, as for your question regarding the pores, I use Bella Pierre mineral powder make-up and haven't noticed that as a problem. I think it gives wonderful coverage if you know how to apply it. Also, you may want to check out the Tracie Martyn Amla cleanser because I've notice my pores becoming significantly smaller since I've started using it. Then again I used the Nutra-Lift Rejuvenating A Therapy at the same time too, so it could be that.

    Ha, I've heard that Bare Minerals (I think Bare Escentuals is from the same company and maker) contains bismuth oxide (or oxychloride), which isn't good for your skin-especially if you have sensitive skin. Marta reviewed Everyday Minerals and said it contained all-natural ingredients/minerals. If I'm not mistaken, I think the Bella Pierre brand I use contains the exact same four ingredients that Everyday Minerals contain.
    This brings me to my next thought.....
    Does anyone know if Everyday Minerals, Signature Minerals or any of the other proven "natural" mineral make-ups uses a ONE-STEP system, meaning there is just one mineral powder that you have to apply to get the whole effect? I mean, do the other ones make you put on a "mineral veil" or any other steps like Bare Minerals does with its three steps? I want to know because I love the one-step convenience of the Bella Pierre brand. I just want to brush on some mineral powder and go, I don't want to have to sit down and put on three different powders and veils (like w/ Bare Minerals) to finish it off. But if the other ones are just as natural and convenient, then I'd like to try them and compare! Thank you!!

  • December 14, 2008

    by Ha

    Please post soon! I only trust Bare Minerals, because they were one of the first ones out (at least to my knowledge...). I still have few containers of this...I don't use it often, but from time to time, I will. I hope it hasn't damaged too much.

    Thank you!

  • December 13, 2008

    by Sandra

    I think you should check out Signature Minerals. I love these products and there is no nasty bismuth, which is problematic for me, in them. They are currently 15% off for the holidays, too!

  • December 13, 2008

    by JulieK

    Just before I began actually wearing the minerals, the "pore factor" was a concern of mine. But as with any makeup, proper facial cleansing is key to toning and keeping your pores a proper size. Mineral makeup, without the nasties, is actually better for your skin over most liquid makeup. Did I say that, who said that!? Here?? /gasp* At any rate, I've got "older" fragile skin, I wear mineral foundation most everyday and I can say with full confidence: I have zero problems with my pores having enlarged. If anything, because I'm now cleansing regularly, toning, the whole schamu, my face is much happier. ~jk

  • December 13, 2008

    by Zoe

    I've heard that mineral foundations can actually make large pores look more prominent and so I've avoided the whole mineral make up craze like the plague. Has anybody had any experience with that?

  • December 13, 2008

    by Lori

    I used Bare Escentuals for years until I found Everyday Minerals. It's cheaper and has a better finish for me. Love it!!

  • December 12, 2008

    by marta

    There will be a post coming up on the Five Best mineral products I've found so far (including Everyday Minerals). And then I'll follow up with your other suggestions - thanks!

  • December 12, 2008

    by JulieK

    I spent the first part of my life being a "hippie," the second being a juggling career-woman/single-mom, and then I went on hiatus. During all these years, and driven by the hippie, I shunned makeup except some mascara and lip color. Entering my 50s I took a trip to London and beforehand had my colors done (first time ever) at a Lancome counter to find the perfect lip shade to go from day to night. The lady ended up talking me into the whole show and while I never used a lot of it over the last seven years, I never tossed it either.

    All that leads up to my discovery this year of mineral makeup! And I'm bowled over. As with anything, I never am casual and have jumped into the deep end. I've ordered samples from at least 20 companies. I've done my research and none I get use bismuth oxychloride, talc, or other obvious nasties. I've narrowed things to about 6 companies I think of high merit: Everyday Minerals; Sterling; Lily Lolo; Ocean Mist; Meow Cosmetics; and Alice. Of honorable mention is BareKiss in Australia. Their product is lovely and the matches wonderful- the distance is a deterent.

    I've had a blast with minerals this year, Marta. I hope you do as well. ~jk

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