Is Mineral Makeup Really Healthier?

The biggest craze in marketing these days seems to be the word “natural.” The more natural something is, the safer and healthier it must be, right?

Well, this is the assumption behind the labels on most mineral makeup brands. These powder-based makeup lines are usually depicted as ground-up minerals straight from the Earth’s crust. Unfortunately, when it comes to mineral makeup, this isn’t quite the case that many companies state. There are two main problems here. One is that mineral makeup may not be as natural as these companies lead on, and the second issue is that “natural” doesn’t necessarily make mineral make up good for your skin.

For instance, most mineral makeup ingredients will list zinc oxide, a synthesized ingredient that thickens the powder and helps the other ingredients combine together. It is also sometimes added in high amounts as sunscreen, because it is known to have sun protection benefits.

But wait, did I just say synthesized? That’s right. One of the main ingredients in mineral makeup is created in a lab. Zinc oxide does not exist in nature in a form that we can extract from a mine. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with mankind learning how to create zinc oxide from solid zinc. The process is actually quite cool, involving the melting of mined zinc then vaporizing it and finally condensing it.

However, this simple example raises a very important question that all consumers must ask when analyzing makeup brands according to what is “healthier” or “more natural” than another. These terms are not regulated or even agreed upon, and we all know natural things on Earth that are actually quite poisonous!

zinc oxide makeup

The making of “natural” mineral makeup usually includes this lab process to create zinc oxide. Not that there’s anything with that!

In fact, in many cases it is manmade materials like zinc oxide that have undergone hundreds of studies for safety and efficacy. This is not always the case when you hear about the latest new “natural” ingredient, which may have a handful (if any) of supporting studies. The bottom line is a mineral makeup may skip controversial parabens and fragrances, but they are still created using manmade, lab-produced materials. These processed ingredients may be perfectly harmless, but the deceptive advertising is often the real problem. Just how natural are we talkin’?

Of course, there are many people—including dermatologists—who swear that what makes mineral makeup good is the option for sensitive skin. The lack of fragrances and oils (the latter of which is not present in most powdered makeup) means those with acne, rosacea and other skin conditions may be better able to use mineral makeup rather than traditional liquid foundations or powder compacts.

This does not, though, make mineral makeup healthier in an inherent way. If you have breakouts, you may even benefit from the salicylic acid found in many acne makeup brands. Those with dry skin or conditions like eczema may enjoy the additional hydration provided by liquid foundations. Women who have fine lines and wrinkles will often complain that powders seem to “settle” in and bring attention to their lines.

So the next time an advertisement tells you what makes their mineral makeup healthier than others, make sure you really drill down to what that means. You may find these products aren’t entirely natural to begin with, but whatever you conclude, just remember: natural does not always mean healthier!


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