Is natural mineral makeup better for your skin?

mineral makeup
Is mineral makeup really better for your skin? See more makeup tips pictures.

Anything that sounds healthy, all natural and organic is going to be popular these days, even if it’s been around for decades (i.e. organic food, solar panels, the green movement, etc.). For years I've chosen the makeup that looked best on me. But now with the explosion of mineral makeup, I’m beginning to think I should use what is healthiest - but also looks good. I have to admit -- natural makeup seems like an oxymoron to me. I always thought “natural” meant “no make-up.” And at the start-up prices for these products, I thought I’d investigate before I invested.

So, is it better than traditional makeup?


Most dermatologists say yes. Because mineral makeup products are generally non-comedongenic and hypoallergenic, and don’t contain perfumes, talc, alcohol, dyes, mineral oil or preservatives—they are thought to be ‘purer’ and less irritating to the skin. 

Jeannette Graf, MD, board certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that not only does she recommend mineral makeup to her patients, but she’s been an avid user for the last three years. “We take care of patients with skin conditions like acne and rosacea, and many of them can’t tolerate regular makeup but have no problems with mineral makeup,” she says. “Plus, it offers extra SPF protection.” She warns, though, that makeup alone is not enough sun protection and that you should use a sunscreen underneath your makeup. But the added protection is nice.

Suzette Banzo says that the Bare Escentuals brand she’s been using for the last seven years has done wonders for her rosacea. “It’s true there is a lot of hype around this makeup, but it really works for me.”

Another bonus is that because many brands contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, they can be soothing on the skin and perfect for post skin treatments such as peels or lasers, and acne flare ups.

Dr. Graf does admit that mineral makeup is not a miracle, nor a skin treatment; and in spite of some products claim that you can even sleep with it, you should “never ever” sleep with makeup on.

Mineral makeup detractors say the powders are messy, drying, inconvenient to carry around and don’t provide adequate coverage. I have to admit the loose powder/big brush application process was a turnoff to me (but I discovered pressed mineral powder; more on that later).

WebMD quotes dermatologic and pharmaceutical chemist Ben Kaminsky as saying: "I think mineral makeup is just a genius marketing plan -- a new way of selling women the same ingredients that technically have been in makeup for years."

Plus, he says that there is no scientific proof that it’s purer than traditional makeup.

Sherry Gavanditti says: “I used it and I’m not impressed. Getting true coverage is hard; it looks patchy.”

And then there’s the controversy over the ingredient bismuth oxycholoride, found in many brands. According to the Green Beauty Guide Blog, “although it has proven antibacterial properties it can irritate skin like mad.”  Dermatologist Judith Hellman, MD says that it can aggravate acne and be the “cause of rashes in patients sensitive to it, especially those with delicate and easily irritated skin, such as rosacea and eczema patients.”

A great resource for checking any makeup before you buy is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.

My Verdict: I have to say, after talking to Dr. Graf, I’m pretty interested in trying it. I’m about out of my Bobby Brown foundation and need to buy a new one anyway. Dr. Graf, as well as another dermatologist I spoke to, recommended the Jane Iredale brand, which offers a pressed powder compact and a liquid version for those who find the powders too drying.

Have you tried mineral makeup? What do you think? What brand or products do you prefer?


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