What are Mineral Makeup Cosmetics?

Sheri Cyprus

Mineral makeup cosmetics are natural cosmetics that are made without the fillers and synthetic additives that are usually found in traditional cosmetic lines or brands. They may contain a variety of minerals that are said to work well for sensitive skin. Mineral makeup cosmetics were first introduced in 1977 by Diane Ranger who invented a line of natural beauty products called Bare Escentuals. Today, there are many companies that produce natural mineral cosmetics for the eyes, face and lips.

A woman has mineral makeup applied to her face.
A woman has mineral makeup applied to her face.

Some mineral makeup cosmetics made today are multipurpose, as the same product may work for both cheeks and lips. With single-purpose mineral cosmetic products, it's very important not to use them for the purpose other than for what they're intended. For example, ultramarine blue or blue-violet is an ingredient that's prohibited to be sold for use on lips, but is approved for use on eyes and the face. Ultramarine colors are mainly used for creating foundations suitable for cool skin tones.

Mineral eyeshadow is a popular choice for people who want more natural makeup.
Mineral eyeshadow is a popular choice for people who want more natural makeup.

Although the main idea behind natural mineral cosmetics is to avoid the artificial colors, fragrances, alcohol and other ingredients found in traditional makeup that can dry and irritate sensitive skin, it's important to read product labels. Some mineral makeup cosmetics do include traditional cosmetic additives as well as ingredients that could cause skin irritation. For instance, bismuth oxychloride is a mineral known to cause skin irritation or itchiness in some people. It's found in many makeup products, even mineral cosmetics, yet it's not a natural mineral, but rather is used in industrial metal processing.

Natural looking coverage is a property of mineral makeup. It goes on lighter, yet still provides coverage of skin flaws and wrinkles similar to traditional makeup. Since mineral makeup cosmetics are light, they can be layered on the skin to create interesting color effects. Herbal extracts are used to add moisture to some mineral makeup products, as minerals used alone have drying properties.

Titanium oxide and zinc oxide are the two minerals most often used to provide sun protection in mineral makeup cosmetics. These are said to be effective sun blockers, yet titanium oxide has been labeled as a possible carcinogen when breathed in as a dust such as in a work environment where the mineral is used. Titanium oxide is used in many products from paint to toothpaste.

Many natural mineral cosmetics are sold in little jars rather than in the traditional makeup pan sets. Some mineral makeup cosmetics users like to mix water with these cosmetic products to apply them wet. This technique can increase color intensity and allow an eye shadow to be used as an eye liner.

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Discussion Comments


My sister was born with a birth mark on her left cheek. For years, she has been very self-conscious about it. She couldn't find any make-up to cover it up.

However, she started using the bare mineral makeup and it completely covers it. It has really boosted her self confidence.

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