Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friend or Foe?; Mineral Makeup

For the last few years, cosmetics companies have built their reputations on using the phrase "mineral makeup" in order to presume the kind of identity that will set them apart from the competition. Bare Escentuals in particular has been at the forefront of the trend that, through the mineral-aspect of their product, their " could actually be considered skincare". The correlation supposed that somehow mineral makeup was a healthier option, better for your skin, and superior to other products in wear, texture and value.

While I don't dispute their claims, it's a bit tricky to defend. The parts of makeup that contribute to coverage, color, and texture are composed of inert earth minerals like Mica (pictured above), Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. All of which are the most common components of ANY formula you will come across. Whether it's from Bare Escentuals, Samina Pure Minerals or Alima Pure, the products in their arsenal are going to have the same ingredients as those from MAC, Smashbox or FACE Stockholm.


The converse may not be true. The cosmetics companies we are most familiar with, whether found in Rite Aid or Bergdorf Goodman, will have some things "mineral makeup" won't, like binding agents, fillers, preservatives and compression agents. Things that create more uses and varied textures that give longevity and versatility for wear. For example; large amounts of Mica are very present in any kind of loose eyeshadow that is "shimmery" like FACE Stockholm Eye Dusts or MAC Pigments but add a bit of Dimethicone, Talc or Kaolin and there you have a slightly subdued shimmery effect in a conveniently pressed product.

Foundations like Bare Escentuals' SPF 15 Foundation also come in loose form as they have no binding agents or fillers that would convert them to cream, liquid or pressed form. But what they are missing out on could be a beneficial hydrating property or sheer finish like Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15. Both use a mineral complex to maintain the SPF property, but come in two very different textures and suit two very different needs. If you have a dry complexion, for instance, you'd be less likely to reach for the powder and if you were very oily, maybe you'd be hesitant to reach for the liquid. Aside from packaging, the main difference between the two is really the form it's in and you can only get that "mineral" product in a limited amount of textures ... sort of.

Well known cosmetics companies like Maybelline New York now have formulas like Mineral Power™ Natural Perfecting Liquid Foundation that come in liquid form and boast the same kinds of benefits as their powder predecessors. But, while oil-free, still contain other emollients and fillers you'd find in similar products like MAC Face and Body Foundation. Not to be out-done, MAC has in it's arsenal Mineralized Satinfinish Foundation... which also has some of the same kind of ingredients that Maybelline's formula has. What's going on here?

All makeup is "mineral makeup" the way all fruit is "organic". Fruits, vegetables and other kinds of produce are grown in dirt. It doesn't matter if it comes from Safeway or Whole Foods, someone got dirty and pulled them out of the ground. But, they could have come from different farms, had different exposure to sunlight, water, pesticides, fertalizers, etc. But, they're still fruit.

On top of that, there's no such thing as "natural", "organic", or "mineral" makeup as defined by any kinds of regulation or law in this country. But with pressure from outside trade commissions like those in Europe and Canada as well as groups in the states looking to begin a shift in the way cosmetics are regulated have proved to create a different mind-set in the consuming public and companies are taking notice. The introduction of products like FACE Stockholm's Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 15 are free of various fillers, oils and even parabens, not only to soothe consumers now wary minds, but regulatory pressure from legislation passed in the European Union.

Soon, I imagine we'll see more innovative formulations of products adhering to the new consumer standards. Only, I'm sure, once legislation passes or the market becomes saturated with product, they'll have their "mineral" characteristics emblazoned on the packaging to entice new customers entering the marketplace. You can just smile to yourself and remember; it's all mineral anyway.

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