Beauty School: What You Need to Know About Mineral Makeup

With all the hype surrounding mineral makeup these days, you may be surprised to learn that minerals have been used as cosmetics for centuries. Cleopatra used black kohl to line her eyes and ground pigments like red ochre to color her lips and cheeks and Ancient Greeks used lead powders to lighten skin. Mineral makeup is nothing new. What is new is the wide array of mineral makeup choices.
But what exactly is mineral makeup? If you look at the ingredient lists on pretty much any product you’ll find some mineral ingredients. What makes mineral makeup different is actually what you won’t find on that list. Traditionally, mineral makeup leaves out chemical dyes, fragrances, oils and preservatives. But no matter how natural the ingredients, some of those lists still look like a foreign language. Here’s a cheat sheet for deciphering the ingredients in mineral cosmetics:
  • Titanium Dioxide: a physical sunblock that protects skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays
  • Zinc Oxide: an FDA-approved skin protectant and anti-inflammatory that’s great for calming irritated skin
  • Iron Oxides and Micas: have a smooth texture and provide varying colors to makeup
  • Bismuth Oxychloride: provide light reflective properties, reducing the appearance of pores, wrinkles and imperfections
  • Silica: a natural absorbent used to control oil
Still need help navigating the mineral makeup maze? We don’t blame you; mineral makeup is so much more than just foundation. Here are a few of our top picks.
Lancôme Tropiques Minérale Mineral Smoothing Loose Bronzer hydrates with Aloe and Vitamin E ensuring even, long-lasting color. Light-emitting mineral pigments deliver a natural-looking glow that’s perfect for dusting temples to décolleté.
Jane Iredale Lid Primer is a multitasking mineral marvel. Wear it alone for a wash of shimmer on the lids and as a subtle highlight. Or use it as an eyeshadow base that will keep shadows in place sans creasing, while extending the wear of your favorite colors.
Now that your eyelids are all primed and ready for shadow, pick a silky smooth formula that wears for hours. Youngblood Pressed Mineral Eyeshadow Quad is a sleek, mirrored compact that houses four shades that blend seamlessly. Wear them dry for a soft look or wet for a more dramatic effect.
The aptly named Urban Decay Surreal Skin Makeup offers excellent, buildable coverage and a semi-matte finish; the result is a naturally flawless looking face. As if it could get any better, the attached puff makes for a mess-free application you can take with you anywhere.
Add more coverage to those areas that need a little extra attention with L’Oréal Paris True Match Naturale Gentle Mineral Concealer. It’s feather-light formula camouflages imperfections, and is exceptionally gentle on the delicate skin around the eyes. Plus, we can’t complain about the convenience of a built-in brush!
Are you a mineral makeup devotee? Let us know what you think of mineral cosmetics in the comments!
Photos: L'Oréal Paris USA, Lancome, Jane Iredale, Hourglass Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Thinkstock
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    About the Author: When Deven's not behind the scenes producing our photo shoots, she's behind her computer writing about everything from nail art to new lipstick.