02 November 2010

You glow, girl: planet-friendly mineral makeup 101

Calling all ladies – have you embarked on what seems like a perpetual quest for the ultimate cosmetics line that:
  • Accentuates your natural beauty?
  • Comes in a range of diverse, wearable colors enabling you to nurture your inner girl next door one day and your Ziggy Stardust the next?
  • Goes easy on the planet with zero fossil-fuel based petroleum derivatives?
  • Lacks any and all animal by-products and is cruelty-free?
  • Contains toxic-free ingredients that you can actually recognize and even pronounce? (Ahem -- no lead, sulfur, aluminum, etc.)
  • Is wrapped in minimal packaging that is either 100% recyclable, biodegradable and/or compostable?
  • Won’t cost a king’s ransom?
  • Makes your skin look as velvety as a dew-covered rose petal (hey…why not?)
  • Stays put throughout the day without looking like a clownish mask?
  • Doesn’t require a sand blaster or chemical solvents to remove?
Welcome to the club. As most ladies can attest, it’s no easy task finding one specific brand (let alone one product) that fulfills all of the aforementioned requirements. That might partially explain why the $500 billion beautification industry continues to enjoy an upward momentum despite our challenging economic climate. We tend to get caught up in a perpetual cycle of buying, trying and purging, with each new acquisition rarely ever fulfilling our expectations.

Underneath the surface, manufacturers sell the notion of beauty through an endless barrage of airbrushed images paired with subliminal ‘you need this’ copy, all the while downplaying the often harmful ingredients that consumers end up slathering all over their faces. Avid cosmetic fans have fortunately – in recent years – gained greater educational exposure to the connection between conventional, chemical-based ingredients and a serious laundry list of health concerns, enabling them to make increasingly wiser purchasing decisions.

As a result, finely ground powdered mineral makeup has become somewhat of a savior, boasting all of the fairy dust and glam-potential of its brethren with none of the binders, preservatives, fragrances, synthetic dyes or laboratory-concocted ‘junk food’. The main advantages of true mineral makeup include:
  • Finely milled naturally occurring pigments that are derived straight from the earth rather than a laboratory.
  • Natural-looking, smooth application and long-lasting coverage due to the high concentration of pure pigments (unlike conventional cosmetics that use talc to ‘stretch’ color).
  • One mineral-based product can be highly versatile and used to accent the eyes, lips and cheeks.
  • Lightweight properties enable the skin to breathe.
  • Contains light-reflective properties which bestow the skin with a youthful glow.
  • Boasts hypoallergenic, anti-inflammatory properties (ideal for those who suffer from rosacea, acne-prone or sensitive/oily skin).
  • Built-in UV sun protection (due to the inclusion of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide).
  • Fans say that it doesn't irritate skin, block pores or trigger acne flare-ups.
  • Paraben, perfume, alcohol, preservative, talc, dye and filler-free.
With the positives, there are also a few negatives to consider when making the transition into mineral makeup, including the following:
  • Skin must be properly ‘prepped’ (cleansed and moisturized) so you can begin with a primed canvas that will accept colors evenly.
  • Since pigments are finely ground and poured into plastic containers with screw-top lids, using these products can be messy.
  • The color palette isn't as extensive as conventional, laboratory-created cosmetic lines since it is limited to what exists in nature.
  • Some critics suggest that using natural pigments can dry out skin.
  • It can often be challenging to apply mineral pigments without using a proven technique and/or the right brushes.
  • Brands that contain bismuth oxycholoride and mica have the tendency to irritate skin, making it inflamed and even itchy.
  • Various brands that claim to be ‘mineral makeup’ often are not, so consumers must do their homework beforehand.
Interested in finding out what natural mineral makeup brand is worth your hard-earned dollars? Then you'll definitely want to check back here tomorrow when we unveil a review of Alima Pure's Holiday 2010 Limited Edition Fairy Tale Collection, which just might restore your faith in a happily ever (eco) after!

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
A dedicated green journalist and currently commissioned to write a comprehensive reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah Leigh hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/bri-bri