The Healthy Cover-up

Mineral makeup emerged in 1994 when two niche brands, bareMinerals and Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, offered loose mineral foundation powders to the public. The mineral powders used no talc, synthetic dyes, or preservatives and had broad-spectrum UV protection. For the first time, coverage was achieved without a heavy buildup of product. Instead, skin looked healthy and natural. Mineral makeup was first labeled as a fad and then a trend. Ten years later, it moved into the mainstream.  

The two original brands have spawned an industry that, in the past five years, saw 2,300 cosmetics that have natural or organic claims launched globally. In the U.S., 33 mineral makeup brands were launched in 2006, 60 in 2007, 106 in 2008, and 157 in 2009. The market for natural color cosmetics has been the fastest growing segment of the cosmetics industry, achieving double-digit annual growth rates. In Datamonitor’s 2009 Consumer Survey, one quarter of its respondents said they had increasingly sought natural products. In 2008, according to, 45 percent of 1,800 cosmetic-buying females said the main reason they buy natural/organic beauty products is because of their fear of chemicals. Eighty percent said that naturally based products were better for their skin, and 64 percent said they did not want chemicals on their skin.

The industry has paid attention. Mineral makeup has grown from a “what’s that?” to a hot marketing term. Because there is nothing that regulates what a mineral makeup should be, anything goes out there. The original concept of mineral makeup was to develop a foundation that was good for the skin by eliminating the ingredients that were potentially damaging to it and to overall health in general. This meant avoiding comedogenic ingredients, anything that might cause skin sensitivities, and anything that was potentially toxic. Talc, parabens, and dyes were no-nos. Mineral powders were uncomplicated formulas that allowed the skin to breathe and function normally and provided meaningful sun protection. But in essence, they were more about what was not in them than what was. A combination of titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, iron oxides, and mica were usually the minerals of choice, creating undiluted pigment. This original concept has moved in two opposing directions. 

The mineral makeup lines that have remained true to the original intention have found ways to move their brands even closer to skincare by incorporating a variety of active ingredients, including antioxidants, botanicals, and essential oils. The technology behind the minerals themselves has improved the look, feel, and efficacy of the formulas. For example, sun protection values have increased not only in the UVB range but also in UVA. 

In opposition is the plethora of lines and adjuncts to lines that call themselves “mineral” but in essence are traditional makeup formulas complete with talc, synthetic dyes, and preservatives. Rationalization is rampant, such as the fact that talc, also known as soapstone, is a mineral. However, part of the definition of an authentic mineral makeup is one that contains no talc. The dilution of mineral pigments with talc diminishes their benefits, deadens the look of the skin, and increases the requirement for re-application. Pity the poor consumer who is not only confused but also turned-off by the results she sees. WebMD noted that, “Since there is no set regulation for what constitutes a mineral makeup, any product containing minerals as a primary ingredient can be marketed as such—even if it contains a whole lot of other ‘less natural’ ingredients.” In fact, there are many lines marketing themselves as mineral today that list minerals under the “may also contain” section of the ingredient list, indicating that they may not be in the formula at all.


Defining Minerals?

To understand the progress in ingredients, let’s look at what minerals really are. There are still misconceptions that minerals are taken directly from the earth or are actual ground-up rock. All minerals, whether they originate in the ground or are wholly manufactured in a laboratory, must go through extensive refining processes and should be classified as inorganic compounds, such as titanium dioxide (TiO2). TiO2 is a naturally occurring oxide of titanium found in the minerals anatase, brookite (relatively rare), and rutile (beach sand), However, TiO2 is seldom used raw because of its photocatalytic propensity. (It reacts with oxygen to create rampant free radicals.) To make it effective and beneficial, TiO2 is surface treated to eliminate oxidation and to increase its ability to refract UV rays. Dimethicone is commonly used for this purpose, due to its ability to increase light-scattering properties. TiO2 is one of only two ingredients approved as an active physical sunscreen by the FDA; zinc oxide is the other. 

Bismuth oxychloride is a brittle metal that is used extensively in mineral makeup. This mineral requires considerable refinement and purification before it can be used topically. Iron oxides used for cosmetics are wholly synthesized to avoid the heavy metal contamination found in nature. Mica is naturally occurring. However, natural mica has not been used in cosmetics since 1960. Currently, all cosmetic mica is a manufactured mineral. 

All of these substances have greatly improved over recent years, and minerals such as mica are now capable of an extraordinary variety of uses. Based on particle size, mica can be sparkly and shimmery or matte and absorbent. Depending on coatings, it can provide any color one wishes. There is no inherent color; it’s all done by light refraction—science at its best. 

Because the demand for cosmetic minerals is now so high, we can expect to see more innovation and a greater variety of options. Wait for the day when mineral particles are impregnated with microscopic anti-aging liposomes that release themselves for as long as the minerals are on the skin. 

Making A Mark

Mineral makeup is thought to be an industry-changer in a variety of ways. It has shown that niche brands can make a significant impact and become leaders in the field. Mineral makeup was all but ignored by the larger brands. It was only because of its popularity, driven by word of mouth, that companies such as Estée Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, and L’Oréal decided to enter the market. This may be the first time that a niche product aimed at consumers’ needs gained a first-to-market advantage over cosmetic giants. Let’s hope it won’t be the last. 

Mineral Makeover

Transform your clients skin with one or more of these mineral makeup lines.

Advanced Mineral Makeup: (480) 239-1508
bareMinerals: (888) 795-4747 www.bare
BECCA Cosmetics: (415) 553-8972
BeingTRUE: (800) 419-8783
Bellápierre: (888) 982-3552
Brushes by Karen: (800) 722-0528
Brush Up by Barbara:
Columbia Cosmetics: (510) 562-5900
Cosmetics Private Label: (818) 627-5275 
DermaQuest Skin Therapy: (800) 213-8100
Glo-minerals: (800) 462-5790 

Jane Iredale-The Skin Care Makeup: (800) 762-1132 

Kryolan: (800) KRYOLAN
Larenim: (800) 691-0131
Mineral Essence: (800) 715-1006
Robanda: (800) 783-9969
Skin Again: (877) 754-6769
Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics: (800) 213-6133
Your Name Professional Brands: (800)