Have you ever taken the time to admire the spectacular colours of Mother Nature? Natural minerals from the earth have been used since ancient times to beautify and inspire women from around the world. The Egyptians are famous for their use of black kohl made from Galena, a dark grey ore of lead, and green eye paint made from malachite, a green carbonate of copper. Cheeks and lips were stained using natural coloured clay, and hair and nails with henna from the Hina tree.
Despite the history of mineral cosmetics, the beauty industry is saturated with products that barely resemble their natural predecessors. Glamorous colours and luxurious packaging do not indicate quality and health, often containing irritating, harmful ingredients like lead, fragrance, emollient oils and preservatives.
Our approach to make-up should be the same as skincare and food – keep it simple, clean and natural. Minerals such as iron oxides, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are ground and milled to create make-up products, which are usually preservative- and fragrance-free. Non-powder mineral make-up may also contain moisturisers, antioxidant vitamins and other skin-nourishing ingredients.
Liquid formulas can be trickier, sometimes deemed ‘mineral-enriched’ as products may contain additives to preserve and smooth the texture. Just as many non-mineral cosmetics add talc as a filler and bismuth oxychloride for a pearlescent effect, they can also be found in mineral make-up brands, causing sensitivity and itching. Always read the label to ensure you’re buying a quality mineral make-up product free of parabens, artificial preservatives, sulfates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, dimethicone, petroleum and nanoparticles.
Many mineral cosmetic companies have added nourishing ingredients to soothe, hydrate and nourish the skin so that powdered mineral foundation looks anything but caked-on. Take Elate Clean Cosmetic’s matte Pressed Powder Foundation which combines minerals with bamboo, argan and coconut extracts to hydrate while giving a smooth and even skin tone. Similarly, bareMinerals’ new Blemish Remedy Foundation provides a creamy finish thanks to hydrating aloe extracts.
Like any foundation, accurately matching skin tone can be tricky according to the season and individual. Alima Pure’s award-winning Satin Matte Foundation is a loose powder that is available in 45 shades to ensure a colour match and to even out skin tone, enhance complexion and reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores.
Gloria Hui from bareMinerals Hong Kong explains that the brand delivers the perfect shade for every skin tone including Asian complexions, which naturally have a golden undertone. Their foundations are available in three main tones in Asia – light, medium and tan.
Mineral cosmetics can work wonderfully for acne-prone skin because it is non-comedogenic and therefore less likely to clog pores, usually without synthetic preservatives, fragrances, alcohol and oils that can irritate the skin. It can also minimise skin discolouration and redness while brightening complexions in a natural way. Alima Pure’s fantastic Color Balancing Powders are available in three tones: Buttercup brightens tired, dull skin while countering mild redness and dark circles under eyes; Lavender enlivens and brightens sallow complexions; and Pistachio balances redness caused by rosacea, sunburn, or skin sensitivity.
If you consider gemstones, all colours are available in nature and the mineral cosmetics palettes are extensive. You will find every spectrum of the rainbow in matte, shimmer or full-on sparkle. The beauty of mineral make-up is the ability to build coverage whether your focus is skin, cheeks or eyes – applying light or bold depending on your desired look. With 40 colours to choose from, Alima Pure’s Pearluster and Luminous Shimmer eye shadows can be applied dry for a subtle glow or with a damp brush for a metallic effect.
Mascara provides the perfect finish. Hui at bareMinerals says, “Mineral mascaras are not that different from other mascaras, but they contain nourishing minerals to protect delicate eyelashes and can easily be removed with eye make-up remover.”
The brushes used for mineral products are specially designed in shape, cut and choice of fibres to capture and contain the finer particles. With a foundation, cheek and a few eye brushes you are ready to go, but because mineral make-up is applied differently than traditional make-up, you are best asking for a demonstration or looking for online tutorials.
Alima acknowledges that natural animal hair brushes can also be a culprit for sensitivity. “With some mineral foundations, the bristles are in contact with the skin longer – especially if you ‘buff’ the foundation into your skin.” For those who develop reactions to animal hair bristles, synthetic brushes like cruelty-free taklon fibre are gentle and effective.
With a commitment to natural cosmetics, many brands extend their care to the environment and packaging. Companies are beginning to refrain from animal testing, while others like Elate Clean Cosmetics, have gotten creative designing beautiful bamboo lipstick and compact cases, as well as flower seed packaging that you can plant after opening. Alima Pure offers refills for their most popular Velvet lipsticks and is carbon-neutral.
Mineral make-up is a great solution for women who wish to freshen up their make-up and take a health-conscious approach to beauty, well-being and the environment. Genuine beauty invites us to be gorgeous, fashion forward and sustainable.