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What is Mineral Makeup?

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Article by Natural Glow Organic Beauty

What is Mineral Makeup?

Mineral makeup traditionally refers to foundations, eye shadows, blushes and bronzers comprised of crushed minerals taken from the Earth and used in loose, dry, powder form. Over recent years, the range of mineral makeup products has expanded to include cream and liquid foundations, lipsticks and mascaras in formulations that also include oils, butters and waxes and necessitating the inclusion of preservatives.

The popularity of mineral makeup has risen dramatically in recent years as an increasing number of consumers seek a more natural makeup alternative to the traditional commercial brands. The result is that there is now a multitude of mineral makeup brands on the market. It is important to remember, however, that not all mineral makeup is made the same.

When it comes to loose mineral powder foundation, for example, true mineral makeup need only be based around a few key ingredients.

These include:

  • Titanium Dioxide - an inorganic compound used in a range of body care products, including makeup. It provides excellent coverage & helps the make-up adhere to your skin. It also offers sun protection as it reflects the Sun’s rays.

  • Zinc Oxide - an inorganic oxide used as a colourant and sunscreen agent. It is known to calm irritated skin & can therefore assist with skin conditions such as Rosacea. It also provides good coverage & offers sun protection.

  • Mica (Serecite) - a type of highly brittle silicate mineral which, when crushed into tiny particles, refracts light. It is typically used as a colourant. It reduces the appearance of enlarged pores and fine lines.

  • Iron Oxides - inorganic oxides used to produce beautiful earthy colours. Iron oxides must be purified to a certain quality and grade before they are used in cosmetics.

  • Tin Oxides - inorganic oxides that are naturally found in mineral form. They are used as colourants.

  • Ultramarines - mineral-derived blue pigments used to cool down the colour of foundations.

  • Kaolin Clay - offers high absorption, great adhesion and a creamy texture. It is often used to reduce shine on the skin.


Additional ingredients may be found in various brands and, while some may be considered cheap but otherwise harmless fillers, certain ingredients found in some mineral makeup brands may not be quite so innocuous.

Ingredients to look out for include:

  • Bismuth Oxychloride - a naturally occurring mineral. However, as it is quite rare, in order to create the large quantities needed by manufacters, it is also produced as a by-product from refining lead, tin, copper, silver and gold ores, after which it goes through a long refining process. It can come in either a pearl or diamond finish and is used in cosmetics to create a shimmery look, give a silky feel and also to help the minerals adhere to the skin.
    The problem with Bismuth Oxychloride is that many people, particularly those with sensitive skin (such as myself), acne or rosacea, find this heavy ingredient very irritating.

  • Parabens - preservatives used by the food, pharmaceutical and personal care industry. Common parabens include Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben and Ethylparaben. Parabens have been found to mimic oestrogen and so can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.

  • Nanoparticles - particles sized between 1 & 100 nanometers. (A nanometre is equal to one-billionth of a metre.) Nanoparticles are most commonly used in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide found in sunscreens but some makeup brands have also been found to use nanoparticle sized titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in their makeup products.
    There is concern that nano-sized particles may pose a serious health risk if inhaled or absorbed into the body.

12 Feb 2016

Last Update: 13 Feb 2016

Article/Information supplied by Natural Glow Organic Beauty

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.

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