So what is classed as mineral makeup?
It’s not a dumb question! In fact, there are no regulations governing what can and cannot go in a pot with the word 'mineral' written on it. Like organic and natural beauty products, mineral products may not actually contain any more mineral content than others. At risk of sounding pedantic, it pays to read the label.
What’s in mineral make-up?
It’s more a question of what isn’t! Mineral make-up is composed of very finely ground mineral powders from the earth (mica, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the big guns). Many of these minerals are also found in ordinary make-up. The ‘purest’ forms of mineral make-up contain no paraben preservatives, fillers, dyes, chemicals, colours, binders, other chemicals and irritants. Watch out for a chemical called bismuth (bismuth oxychloride) too. This is a pearlizing agent which can irritate skin and give an unnatural Tango orange glow.
What difference does mineral make-up have for your skin?
Devoid of the above-mentioned nasties, mineral make-up is purer, lighter in texture and kinder to skin. Minerals have anti-inflammatory properties, which have a calming effect on acne, rosacea, allergies and sensitive skin. Mineral make-up is comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog your pores as much as heavier chemical products. Some mineral cosmetics are also suitable for vegans and gluten sensitive types.
Afterglow Cosmetics founder Kristin Adams says: "The typical adult uses nine cosmetics & personal-care products a day with an average daily load of around 126 chemicals. Most of these chemicals are absorbed into your body through your skin. Others, found in lipstick and lip balm, you actually eat as they come off your lips when eating, drinking or wetting your lips. Mineral cosmetics are natural and don’t contain any harmful ingredients."
What are the downsides?
The powder-heavy formulae can have drying effects and even accentuate wrinkles and lines. Prices vary a great deal, but as a rule you use less product than you would for standard cosmetics, so mineral makeup can give you value for money even if you have to shell out a bit more to start with.