If you have sensitive skin with acne or rosacea, want natural sun-protection, or can just never find a shade that fits your color at the beauty counter, mineral makeup might be for you.
After being plagued with a particularly terrible case of acne as a teenager, I began to scrutinize the laundry list of beauty products I was using everyday and realized how little I knew about the endless number of ingredients I was putting on my skin. It was on beauty forums, pursuing any recommendations that would come my way, that I discovered mineral makeup. From there, the search for the mineral makeup HG (“Holy Grail”)—as those in the online beauty community have been known to call products they love—was on, and I was pulled into a parallel universe of independent mineral makeup brands.
It was then that I discovered not just one HG, but a whole slew of natural makeup products that were cruelty-free, vegan, lacking the usual parade of unreadable chemical ingredients that fill other big brand name cosmetics, often more affordable, and had me speaking with a kind, real human being on customer service calls (it wasn’t shocking to get the company’s founder on the phone). It was through this process that I also stumbled upon a whole paradigm of beauty that aligned more with my values and a community of people who seemed to really believe in a more complex, ethical idea of beauty, creating cosmetics that were about beauty inside, out, and beyond.
You may have heard of mineral makeup already. A trend in mineral cosmetics has ignited the beauty world and might bring to mind lovely, luxurious sets of powdery, glowy goodness you might have seen on late-night television or spotted in a department store. However, commercial mineral makeup brands have often been known to contain Bismuth Oxychloride, a mineral used as a filler to make up the bulk of the powder that can unfortunately cause irritation for people with sensitive skin (it can cause itchiness, especially when sweating.) On the other hand, mineral makeup products from independent beauty companies are often comprised of only a few mineral ingredients.
But don’t take it from me: part of the ethos of independent mineral makeup involves self-empowerment and education – while products on independent mineral makeup sites almost always show the ingredients that go into them, this should be the standard with all beauty products across the board. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has plenty of information about how to fight toxicity in makeup, as well as a database of ingredients found in the products in your beauty cabinet, and their correlating toxicity levels.
Since mineral makeup is often found in powder form, you can build up the coverage and easily use it for sensitive skin with allergies, acne, or rosacea. In addition, mineral makeup is often based on Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which can serve as a light, natural SPF for your skin. Furthermore, underground mineral makeup companies are often small, independent businesses run and started by women (often from their homes), and are friendlier to people of color by catering to a variety of skin colors beyond department store brands. You can not only look good, but feel good about the makeup you’re using. Here are a few of the best mineral makeup brands and products.