The Benefits of Mineral Makeup
The benefits of mineral makeup have many women flocking to try it -- and it isn't just all hype.
One popular claim is that it can clear up acne. Fusco says it's unlikely that mineral makeup will clear up pimples, which can be caused by many factors, including changes in hormone levels. The anti-irritating ingredients like zinc can be soothing to inflammation, but it's not likely a cure-all, she says.
The lack of the filler ingredients found in conventional makeup, however, can lead to less pore clogging. That can mean fewer breakouts, Fusco says.
"There are no studies," she says. "But if you are putting on moisturizer followed by sunscreen and then, on top of that, [putting] foundation topped with powder, you are more likely to have clogs."
"Mineral makeup doesn't make my acne worse, but it doesn't make it better," Hitzfeld says.
Fusco agrees. Despite the calming effects of zinc, she does not think mineral makeup is clearly better for acne than any other kind of cosmetics. If you have acne, she recommends using skin care products targeted to pimples.
Another claim is that mineral makeup acts as a sunscreen to protect skin from sun damage. The protective claims for zinc oxide (the white stuff your local lifeguard paints on his nose) and titanium dioxide, usually found in powder blends, do have some research behind them. The FDA has approved zinc oxide as a skin protectant and titanium dioxide as a sunscreen.
But -- and this is a big but -- no mineral makeup is going to give you enough SPF to protect you against damaging ultraviolet rays.
One brand, Colorescience Pro, claims the product has a confirmed SPF 30. But it's unclear how much powder you'd have to apply to get full protection. "Having the SPF in the mineral makeup is a benefit, but it’s extra," Fusco says.
She says not to skip sunscreen and suggests that if, for example, you are going to sit outside at lunch and don't have time to entirely reapply your face (moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup), you can dust on a coat of mineral powder with SPF for extra protection.
Mineral Makeup: Is It Worth It?
When it comes to mineral makeup's supposed skin-soothing properties, Hammer says it is anti-inflammatory, noting that the calamine lotion you use to calm a rash is basically zinc oxide colored with iron oxide, both of which are in mineral makeup. But there's no proof of this claim or indication of how much product you need for that result.
What about the claim that it's so gentle you can sleep in it? Mineral makeup's light-as-air feel is part of what makes it so popular, and tempting to sleep in. Still, Fusco advises against sleeping in makeup of any kind to prevent clogs and irritation.
Mineral makeup might not last as long on your face or be as durable as conventional makeup because it doesn't contain standard cosmetic ingredients such as binders, waterproof polymers, and other "stick-to-your-skin" agents.
True mineral makeup is limited in its natural range of shades, so it may be difficult to find a perfect skin tone match.