The lowdown on mineral makeup and why it's so special

Oct 28, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. ET
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In the past, the words "mineral makeup," to me, called to mind makeup that contains natural ingredients that can be found on your typical trek through the woods. I also recall being underwhelmed, in my early days of makeup exploration, by what seemed to be a continuous mineral makeup palette of browns, nudes and bronzes.

But, after attending an event and makeup demonstration hosted by a mineral makeup brand Alima Pure to debut their latest collection and viewing a vast array of rich, highly pigmented shades like cobalt, Danube and toffee, I realized the limitations I associated with mineral makeup are outdated. Couple this with the fact that I now get compliments, no matter where I go, and I feel it's only fair to give you the lowdown on mineral makeup, courtesy of Alima founder Kate O'Brien.

More: How to make your own liquid foundation from mineral makeup face powder

O'Brien had the idea to create Alima in 2004, when her mother was ill and she began noticing her teen daughter playing around with makeup. Many of the ingredients in her sparkly cosmetics were artificial and worrisome. She thought of her mother's illness, considered her daughter's health and future, and realized she could contribute in a meaningful way.

"For me, there was a moment when I learned that the makeup I grew up on was full of known toxins. My first thought was, I bet you could make beautiful makeup that’s completely safe," O'Brien says.

More: 12 Essential makeup tips for pale skin

Although mineral makeup brands differ in the ingredients they use in their products, Alima, and some of the best mineral makeup brands on the market, including bareMinerals, contain no dyes, fragrances, preservatives, binders or synthetics and use minerals like mica, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to create beautiful shades and both matte and shimmer finishes. "Overall, we only add what is completely necessary, eliminating opportunities for nasty irritants and only providing safe, comfortable and healthy ingredients," O'Brien says. "Additionally, our strong pigments give your face a flawless look."

Yep, major mineral makeup myth debunked: Earth tones may make up the bulk of most brands' offerings, but color options are becoming a lot more varied. At Alima, for example, 45 foundation shades have been created that range from alabaster pale to deep bronze — it's impossible not to find a shade that suits your skin tone.

More: 5 Reasons to use mineral makeup

Mineral makeup does more than make you feel and look pretty in the moment — it can actually have long-term benefits for your skin. If you suffer from acne, a formula that is oil-free and free of preservatives and binders won't clog your pores and will allow your skin to breathe — almost as if you aren't wearing any foundation at all. "Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, two of our natural ingredients in our Satin Matte Foundation, act as natural sun blocks," O'Brien says. "In fact, zinc oxide is an FDA-approved skin protectant and has anti-inflammatory properties. The fact that our mineral foundation is high in this ingredient proves it can be helpful in calming acne skin."

One of the biggest complaints I've heard about mineral makeup, perhaps because it's so natural, is that it doesn't last as long on the skin. In my opinion, this is a small price to pay for using healthier products, but obviously, no one wants to watch their foundation melt off their skin at 6 p.m. "People sometimes worry that powder mineral cosmetics do not provide enough coverage on the skin, but there are many ways to create more coverage with mineral makeup," O'Brien says. "Try adding our foundation or concealer to your favorite moisturizer for specific spot coverage. Applying foundation in light layers (letting it sit before applying more) will actually create more coverage than applying a lot at once."

If all else fails, a good primer is your best makeup friend. The pros of mineral makeup totally outweigh any cons, especially if you have sensitive skin, allergies or simply get grossed out by the idea of artificial ingredients clogging your precious skin.

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