As soon as my skin cleared up from the horrors of my teenage years, filled with a constant struggle of oil, breakouts, blackheads and unsightly enlarged pores, I noticed a bigger problem. Underneath all of the skin problems that I had offhandedly dismissed as ‘due to teenage hormones’ my skin was irritated and unhealthy.
By the time I was 25, I had tried nearly every cosmetic product on the market with basically no success at finding a product that did not cause irritation, inflammation, and under the skin type breakouts. I had tried expensive department store products that are specifically tested to be hypoallergenic, but I could not pinpoint the cause of the irritation. After a particularly horrible experience with Mary Kay’s mineral makeup which irritated my skin so much that I had quit wearing make up all together, I started looking for products with the fewest number of ingredients possible.
What is the difference between ‘Mineral’ makeup and traditional foundation?
All makeup products are essentially ‘mineral’ makeup, meaning that the base for making the product is a combination of mineral compounds that work well for cosmetic purposes. These minerals are typically a combination of titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and iron oxides with other fillers depending on the application and brand.
Mineral makeup is often confused as being all-natural. That is not really true. The minerals that are organic, have to be refined in a laboratory setting in order to remove impurities and make them suitable for cosmetic purposes. The inorganic compounds are synthesized in a lab as a by-product of a chemical process.
If you are hoping that mineral make up is an all-natural, chemical-free alternative to traditional makeup–it is not. However, most formulas do not include many of the parabens, fragrances or dyes that is found in traditional makeup and therefore it is often less irritating.
Overall, mineral makeup is the same thing as the base used for traditional makeup products. It just has less fillers and additives and is therefore less likely to cause irritation.
I choose to use mineral makeup because it offers great coverage with the fewest ingredients. However, not all mineral makeup formulas fit the bill when it comes to eliminating irritating chemicals. I found that some formulas increased irritation, some even caused a burning sensation when I would sweat. After researching the ingredients in commercial mineral makeup products, I decided to experiment with making my own so that I could see what was actually necessary and what I could leave out.
What is in Mineral Makeup?
Mineral makeup formulas vary by brand. Although mineral makeup products are typically less engineered and contain fewer irritating chemicals when compared to traditional makeup formulas, many brands still contain additives and fillers that can be irritating.
Titanium Dioxide is a refined mineral product. Although it is found naturally occurring, it is bound to impurities that need to be removed before it is safe to use for cosmetic purposes. Titanium dioxide is an opaque, odorless and absorbent mineral that is used commonly used in cosmetics.
Zinc Oxide is an inorganic compound made from zincite. It is considered non-allergenic and has a wide variety of uses in cosmetics, skin care and medicinal purposes.Zinc oxide has anti-inflammatory properties and is insoluble in water which make it good for cosmetic purposes because it helps the makeup stay put for all day wear.
Iron Oxides are inorganic compounds made by combining iron and oxygen. They are used as a colorant in cosmetic products.
Talc is a mineral powder made from a combination of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is one of the oldest products used for cosmetics and is still surprisingly popular today as a filler to make more expensive ingredients stretch farther.Talc helps absorb moisture (i.e. popular as a finishing powder to absorb oils in the skin and give a smooth finish). There are some concerns about the safety of talc and although it is approved by the FDA as a safe cosmetic product, some people report adverse reactions to it.
Mica is a naturally-occurring mineral structure found in granite and other rocks. It is refined for use in cosmetic products to give a ‘glowy’ effect. l.
Boron Nitride is an inorganic compound used in cosmetics to increase adherence to the skin. I personally do not feel that I need to add anything for better adherence so I don’t use this compound.
Magnesium Stearate, or magnesium salt is considered non-toxic. It is commonly found in supplements (used as a flow agent to form pills or capsules). It is also sometimes referred to as stearic acid, which occurs naturally in the human diet. Magnesium stearate is used in cosmetic applications for its texture and emusifying properties.
Bismuth Oxychloride is found in many commercial mineral makeup products, used as a replacement for talc. It is a fine, white powder that adheres well to skin and has a naturally pearlescent appearance. Unfortunately, some people are sensitive to bismuth oxychloride due to the crystalline structure, the particles are sharp and not blunt. The problem is that they are so small that they can get stuck in pores and cause irritation. In formulas that use bismuth oxychloride as the primary ingredient, those that are sensitive might have more problems with irritation, specifically with cystic acne.
I personally do not recommend using either Bismuth Oxychloride or Talc. I find them both to be unnecessary and potentially irritating ingredients. If you have tried mineral makeup products that caused stinging if you were to sweat while wearing it, that was probably because that product had a lot of bismuth oxychloride in it.
How I make my own DIY Mineral Makeup.
After a lot of research and a lot of trial and error, I have stripped down the traditional mineral makeup formulas to only the essentials. It works well for me and is easy to make in a large batch – which lasts a really long time.
I ordered a few basic mineral compounds from a reputable company that provides these ingredients to cosmetic companies. I did have to order in bulk, but it worked out well because I had plenty to play around with. The cost was low enough that I was able to make cover all of my costs by making makeup for a few of my friends.
I use only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and iron oxides to make a mineral makeup foundation that does not require a setting powder, lasts all day, and doesn’t wear off with sweat. More importantly, it does not irritate my skin. I have been using this makeup for two years now and over that time, all of the underlying inflammation and breakout that I had been dealing with have completely cleared up.
For the base recipe, I use 2 parts titanium dioxide to one part iron oxide. I blend this together in an old magic bullet mini blender that I no longer use for food. The magic bullet works very well and thoroughly blending the minerals.
I use iron oxides in dark red, yellow and brown to color the makeup because the base is all white. When using iron oxides, a very tiny amount goes a very long way. I don’t measure these, they are more like tiny pinches. This is especially true with the red. This part took some experimenting based on skin color and undertones, but in a few tries I got a perfectly matched color.
This simple makeup formula provides excellent coverage and lasts all day. I started using this along with a natural oil-based face wash with coconut and castor oil. The finish of the makeup is amazing, I don’t find that I need to use a finishing powder at all. Because the zinc oxide is insoluble in water, it has amazing staying power, even when it is hot out. However, I do recommend keeping a clean powder brush in your handbag. You won’t need to reapply, but if I happen to sweat underneath this stuff, the powder brush is handy to smooth it out.