Glam rock

G Magazine

Since its inception, mineral makeup has caused a stir, and now years later, new products on the market are proving they can stand up to, and surpass, their chemical counterparts.


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We all love a cosmetic product that multi-tasks. It saves us money, time and handbag space. Which is why mineral makeup comes up trumps every time. True mineral foundation is based on mineral pigments from the earth, is the makeup that keeps on giving; it is free of toxic chemicals, protects the skin from environmental assault, offers a high water-resistance rating and doesn’t block the skin’s pores like the makeup formulations of many foundations. Plus, it also offers natural, flawless coverage.

For decades, we have used foundations that work like an occlusive paint caked onto the surface of the skin which explains the use of the term, ‘cake face’. Mineral makeup is revolutionary in the way that it can give an airbrushed appearance without suffocating the skin. In a few simple sweeps of mineral pigment on your skin, you achieve a smooth, light and flawless coverage, covering up redness, blemishes and spots.

True mineral foundations are made up of natural minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; ingredients popularly used as natural sunscreens in suncare formulations as they successfully reflect UV rays. Fiona Heslop, business development director of Inika Cosmetics says, “Our mineral makeup naturally offers SPF of 15 and mineral makeup adheres to the skin so is sweat proof − perfect for summer. It is also a great solution for those with problem skin such as skin sensitivities or acne and rosacea − it is non irritating as the pigments don’t go into the skin and clog the pores.”

While mineral makeup began its days primarily as various powders, there are now some fabulous new liquid mineral foundations on the market that boast many of the benefits of the loose powder but glide on like a skin moisturiser. They also give the skin a dewy glow, unlike the powder that gives a more matte finish.

Traditionally, ingredients in foundations such as mineral oil (different to minerals found in mineral makeup) were merely for money-saving and cosmetic purposes with no health benefits. While mineral oil offers smooth application, it is detrimental to the health of the skin, clogging the pores and robbing the skin of fat-soluble vitamins, plus it is derived from petroleum, a non-renewable source. “Conventional foundations also rely on dubious synthetic solvents, preservatives, aluminum as well as synthetic fragrances and chemical dyes derived from coal tar,” says Heslop. “These ingredients are known to irritate the skin and compromise its integrity.”

The beauty of pure mineral makeup is that is contains none of these nasty skin sensitisers, so is perfect for even the most delicate and problematic of skins. In fact, zinc oxide even boasts anti-inflammatory properties. “True mineral makeup is composed of concentrated pigment which not only covers beautifully, but helps to calm, especially if there is redness of the skin,” says Heslop. “It also reflects light, so it gives you a lovely natural glow.”

However, beware of the brands that are riding the new wave of mineral makeup without the good ingredients. “There are many brands that are trading under the mineral makeup banner that contain lots of dubious fillers such as talc, a suspected carcinogen popularly used as a filler and to give the skin a more matte appearance; but it just dries out the skin and clogs the pores,” says Narelle Chenery, creative director of skincare brand Miessence. “Another popular ingredient in skin foundations and fake mineral makeup brands is bismuth oxychloride, which is used to give the skin a visible sheen but is a well known skin irritant. It has been estimated that 75 per cent of women are allergic to this chemical. So, if you’re finding mineral makeup isn’t working for you, this ingredient may be the culprit. It’s also not complimentary for use on older skin because the shimmery look creates a mask-like appearance that enhances wrinkles making skin look older and feel drier than it really is.” If you are unsure of an ingredient in a product, you can check www.ewg.org for safety data on individual ingredients.

The nano particle debate has caused some controversy about mineral makeup. Nano particle minerals are found in some sunscreens and mineral makeup brands. Some scientists believe that minerals ground to nano particle size (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre) can be harmful to human health and the health of the environment. Professor Epstein of the University of Illinois believes they may absorb UV light transporting solar radiation into the body. Heslop says that Inika ensures that all mineral particles are not nanonised, but micronised, so they still sit on the skin, but are small enough to give you a translucent appearance.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s stance on this states: “To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells; rather, they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin that is composed of non-viable cells. For those worried about nano technology, call the brand of the product you are interested in purchasing and ask them if their minerals are micronised or nanonised.

No-go Ingredients:

Mineral oil and bismuth oxychloride are just two nasties you should watch out for when you are shopping for make-up. Narelle Chenery, creative director of Miessence, shares the list of other ‘no go’ ingredients found in conventional make-up.

Synthetic moisturisers − propylene / butylene glycol linked to possible brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities respiratory and throat irritation, central nervous system depression, pulmonary oedema, brain damage, hypoglycaemia, skin rashes and dermatitis, neuro-toxin that weakens protein and cellular structure.

Hormone disrupting preservatives − parabens hormone disrupter, oestrogenic (mimics natural oestrogens that leads to cancer); linked to breast cancer; skin rashes.

Formadehyde donating preservatives − Diazolidinyl urea, 3-diol Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium-15 carcinogen, causes allergic reactions and contact dermatitis; headaches; irritates mucous membranes; damaging to eyes; linked to joint and chest pain; depression; headaches; fatigue; dizziness and immune dysfunction.

Skin sensitising emulsifiers − SLS, cocamide DEA, triethanolamine suspected carcinogens linked kidney and liver damage; nervous system disruption; damage to eyes leading to cataracts; eczema and dermatitis, known to inflame skin layers.

Allergenic synthetic perfumes − ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ in the ingredients list − endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCS) and carcinogen linked to birth defects; premature breast developments; lowered sperm counts; testicular injury; damage to reproductive organs; lung, liver and kidney cancer.

To check out a range of our favourite mineral makeups, as well as how to apply them, here.