Road Test: Mineral Make-up

My best friend can come back from a night out and collapse in bed with foundation, bronzer and blusher intact – and wake up the next day, smear it off with a cucumber wipe and (lo and behold) she’s still flawless. I, on the other hand, have to remember to cleanse, moisturise and tea tree even through my glazed haze, or I will wake up to skin resembling the moon’s surface. This is just one of those harsh facts of life I’ve had to get used to. Or is it?

Mineral make-up is the latest trend in cosmetics. Originating in the seventies, it has recently boomed in the market amid promises that it creates a coveted glow, acts as sunscreen, and is made from all-natural ingredients (so you can perform such feats as sleeping in it). Undoubtedly the allure of it all has seduced me, but I remain sceptical. The new mineral brands all market their products as ‘natural’, ‘mineral’, and ‘from the earth’, containing ingredients such as micronised titanium dioxide, micronised zinc oxide, iron oxide, silk mica, and hydrated silica. However, confusingly I found the “mineral” component titanium dioxide in my normal, non-mineral, Prescriptives Flawless Skin Concealer, so it would seem that these “natural” ingredients are not what make mineral make-up special.

Those fans of mineral make-up claim it’s “special” because of the light, natural, long-lasting glow that simply can’t be duplicated by other types of make-up, which was indeed my thoughts as I swirled on the powder – however, as the day wore on I had to agree with its critics; it’s too drying. Furthermore, the colours have a definite ashy undertone that would be a particular problem for non-Caucasian skin types. Mineral make-up does not seem to be all that was promised, then. However, many dermatologists report that because mineral make-up eliminates classic irritants like fragrances, binders, synthetic dyes, and preservatives it is, therefore, kinder to the skin. Moreover, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide both have anti-inflammatory properties which calm the skin. Yet lest we forget, my regular concealer contains this soothing ingredient too, and so is equally as kind to the skin as its ‘purer’ rival. In fact dermatologists agree that titanium dioxide is non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog pores – so whilst this supports the mineral camp it simultaneously undermines them, because my traditional make-up is doing the same job.

The make-up itself, however, is good. A light, sheer finish can be accomplished by moving the applicator brush in small circles on the face, or if you desire a more opaque texture you can apply it in layers with a damp sponge (much like you would apply liquid foundation). Fortunately, the consistency of mineral make-up gives coverage without the thick, unnatural, pore-clogging consequences of traditional liquid foundation.

So back to the question at hand – can I snuggle into bed with my mineral make-up rubbing against my pillow worry free? The answer, sadly, is no. Whilst it doesn’t contain synthetics and so is more naturally pure, it is still essentially just non-comedogenic make-up like my current concealer of choice – and I wouldn’t dream of sleeping in that. Not all is lost on the mineral make-up front, however – it has created a new, cheaper market for non-comedogenic make-up that never existed before (as non-comedogenic make-up is notoriously pricey). So if you want a cheap make-up (that won’t clog your pores) go for Neutrogena or Maybelline’s new mineral make-up range – just make sure you don’t buy into the hype. It is essentially the same as traditional make-up, just wrapped up in a prettier, organic PR bow.

Laura Morrison


Leave a Reply