Terms like ‘mineral makeup’ makes us think of words like “Pure”, “Natural” and “Chemical Free”. Just entering the search term Mineral Makeup on the Internet brings back pages of hits of companies selling their version of mineral makeup. If you take the time to read through the various claims you’ll see how one company claims their superiority over the others by using various action verbs and catch phrases, “ Pure minerals” is perhaps the most overused catch phrase. The truth is that regardless of what companies claim, they are not using pure minerals to color their powders, they are using synthetic iron oxide pigments, synthetic ultramarine pigments, titanium dioxide and other synthetic pigments; just like every other cosmetic company has for decades.
In the United States, the pigments that are allowed for use in cosmetics are regulated by the FDA. Regulated you say? Yes I know that there are many natural cosmetic websites and political lobby groups that claim how the cosmetic industry is unregulated, this is an untruth, but that lie will be discussed in other blogs. The FDA offers a great deal of information and guidance to educate consumers and cosmetic companies in the regulations and laws that manufacturers must follow. Following the link “FDA Color Additives” will provide you with information about cosmetic colors and regulations.
Regarding natural mineral pigments the list of acceptable pigments can be found directly in 21CFR part 73 subpart C and (D&C and FD&C colors). If you research further you will find that the pigments that are used in mineral foundations are made synthetically. Other than being a marketing untruth through, there is no danger in using these colors. Reading through the different websites would make you think that using synthetic colors is evil, bad and every other mean nasty thing you can imagine; all it really is are companies marketing on fear in order to sell their products. 21CFR part 74 subpart C
To substantiate how one mineral makeup company is better than another, customers write in their testimonials how this makeup line makes me break out or how that foundation makes me break out and each company offers up how and why their product won’t cause this and why other products make this happen. The various answers will make consumers and anyone with knowledge of ingredients bang their head in frustration. Notwithstanding other lesser, possible causes, from my experience of ingredients and formulas, one of the biggest reasons for breakouts from mineral makeup and powders in general are micro abrasions. Many of these products don’t use talc (for no reason other than they make unsubstantiated claims of how bad talc is) and in it’s place use mica. Mica in its most inexpensive form is a flat, jagged edged platelet, which tends to lay flat on the skin when applied; but also because it does have jagged edges, will tend to catch onto the pores of the skin when applied (especially if applied when the pores are open, such as when the skin is warm like right after a shower or a bath) and cause a micro abrasion. Applying a lot of powder under this condition, repeatedly, can cause a number of abrasions, which over the course of the day and under repeated application could become angry and look as well as feel worse. Provided that the abrasion doesn’t infect, by suspending the use of your mineral makeup or powder for a few days will allow the abrasion to heal.
I first observed these micro-abrasions many years ago when working on powders and observing how the repeated application of certain powders throughout the day to evaluate color would cause the skin on my arm to become scratched and angry. I realized it was the mica making these micro scratches into my skin that was causing the irritation.
Now this doesn’t mean that mica is bad, however what it does mean is that how mica is used in the formula and what type of mica is used will impact how it reacts on customers. For companies that make mineral makeup, many of them choose to make it with the cheapest ingredients (regardless of the marketing claims) because of this, the mica tends to be less refined, being a larger particle size and having sharper jagged edges. These powders will more than likely, given the right condition scratch the skin. However, if a company wants to create a finer feeling formula they would use treated mica, which depending on the treatment would smooth out the jagged edge of the mica, making it unable to catch on the pores of the skin and create an abrasion. Sometimes you can tell if a treated mica has been used by looking at the ingredient list of the product and seeing ingredients like methicone, lecithin or sodium myristoyl sarcosinate, If you’ve ever spent money for a more expensive product you’ve known the feel of the difference between a cheap product and a more expensive product. The texture would be the difference between sand paper and a million little ball bearings rubbing against your skin.
Of course, aside from the micro abrasions that can occur when using powdered mineral makeup, the performance of the product could also be an issue since the powder is just that. Powder in and of itself tends to have poor skin adhesion and easily wears off, either from perspiring or the buildup of oils on the skin. One way to increase the wear ability of powder is to increase the binders in it. Binders would usually be in the form of zinc stearate or an oil, this however, could aid in causing the skin to breakout as a result of the pores of the skin becoming blocked by the oils in the powder or by the oils of the skin bonding with the powder.
With so many mineral foundations being available on the market and given that so many companies are going out of business due to the economic downturn of the last few years, the amount of discontinued makeup products in the market have been on the rise. As it may be difficult to find your exact color of discontinued cosmetic again the most cost effective alternative would be to turn to custom makeup. Custom cosmetics have become increasingly popular with the introduction of products such as By Jove Cosmetics – Ultra Matrix 3000 custom makeup kit. This makeup kit which retails as low as $29.95 enables people to be able to custom blend any skin tone as well as create any shade of concealer. The high quality ingredients used to create By Jove’s makeup will allow you to experience the difference between inexpensive formulas and a high-end luxury. By Jove cosmetics will be expanding their line of custom blend cosmetic products with the addition of a custom blush kit by late summer 2010.