“Mineral Make-up”: Talc is Cheap | Ingredient Alchemy Lab #2

There’s make-up with “mineral” in its name (and granted, some in its formula) and there’s real mineral makeup. Let’s have a closer look at the smoke and the mirrors.


First off: What’s a “fake” mineral make-up?

A fake is made of pulverised minerals stretched out with Talc – a carcinogen if breathed in –, preservatives, silicones, chemical pigment, fragrance, you name it – all stuff that I don’t want to sit on my skin anymore.
In fact, fake mineral makeups are nothing but your standard powders, just with some mineral powder added. We’ll have a closer look into standard makeup bottles, too – just not today.

(A warning: it’s often not much better than what’s inside your shampoo.)

And what’s a “real” mineral makeup? It’s made of nothing but pulverised minerals.

Commonly used minerals are Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides, Mica. Good news: They are not toxic. 

And most ingrediens are also controversy-free and safe:
Zinc Oxide
 is antiseptic and opaque; Iron Oxides are used as pigments; and Mica is a glimmer – all these ingredients are also used in conventional cosmetics.

An ingredient to avoid though is irritant Bismuth Oxychloride.
It’s normally found in standard cosmetics – foundations, eye shadows, nail polish – but also in some mineral powders.
It’s used because it’s a cheap filler with some “added values”: it has pearly/silky/sticky qualities.
BO evens out wrinkles and gives the skin a “healthy looking” glow. It’s irritant because of its crystalline form which causes small scratches on the surface of the skin. BO particles are heavy, and mineral make-up containing them has to be “worked” into the skin or it will slide – well, you could as well buff your face with some sand for a scrub with an unknown outcome (but probably irritations or inflammations).
Alima, Inika, Lily Lolo and Everyday Minerals – which are the brands I use – don’t contain BO in their products.

Titanium Dioxide gives mineral makeup sunscreen and coverage; it’s widely used… and faces some controversy. Research suggests that TD dust, if inhaled, is a group 2B cancerogen = a possible cancerogen – alarmed, I grabbed this monograph and started reading it. Fact is, evaluation is really difficult: most lung-cancer-affected humans with decades of exposure to TD (e.g. plant workers) also happened to be smokers. TD proves to be non-toxic in vitro, which is a relief, but it does cause inflammations in animal lungs. On the other hand, they didn’t make them breathe makeup. Hmm. So what I see 100% confirmed TODAY after having read the IARC monograph is: TD is most dangerous when its finest. And Alima Pure, one of the leading manufacturers of mineral make-up, argued that the use of nano-size TD made no sense with make-up and thus their products were safe.

I guess I’ll have to apply my makeup breathing out (or blended into liquid makeup using a bit of my day cream) until research has the facts straight.


Now that the theory part is through, some BEAUTYCALYPTIC experience.

I use mineral make-up for over 3 years now. The “trigger button” has been that I had to stop wearing standard make-up and powder – my skin got very sensitive and would react to silicones, paraffinum liquidum, and fragrances with outbursts, rashes, and pustules. My face was Braille on good days and crumble cake on bad.

And off I sailed to the green bank of the river of cosmetics.

My Dr. Hauschka beautician helped me change my beauty routine and was very helpful: skin treated with standard cosmetics needs some time to get used to the new stuff it gets, and mine was no exception.

Sadly, liquid natural make-up never met any of my expectations: it had beautiful colour and was light and lovely but had no coverage. Or it had super coverage, but was smeary and heavy. Or it was oily. Or it slipped off my face. Or it was aloe-vera-based and my skin started itching. So I tried mineral make-up after having discovered a mineral concealer powder.

I started with Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation in Olive 1.5. Alima offers an amazing colour variety – 61 shades of Satin Matte Foundation! – and I have very fair skin. Hard to match if you’re facing a mineral make-up colours collection of… two shades, “cold” and “warm”! 😀

I then explored some more and have tested and loved the Australian brand Inika – they have a fabulous Setting Powder which is mineral make-up’s confident reply to any primer out there! – and Everyday Minerals who have brilliant Starter Kits for fair or sun tanned skin, with matte or glowy effects. Lily Lolo, a British brand, is my other favourite. Their makeup colour range suits my paleface needs very well, and their Finishing Powders and Bronzers are terrific. (I’m yet to try RMS and Hiro.)

I have also tried some other brands I’m not mentioning here, but I was appaled to learn that some offered silicone-based liquid primers. What’s the sense in that!?

My first Everyday Minerals kit, the Glow Kit. It comes with a little bottle of Argan oil and a cutesy mini brush. (I got my kit from the Austrian online store Ecco Verde.)
When I put them all in row for this picture it occurred to me that I as well might evaluate each of those in my Loot Reviews. Am I right? Left to right: Lily Lolo, Everyday Minerals, Inika in the background and Alima Pure on the right.

My experience so far is following. On the mineral makeup PLUS side:

  1. Non toxic
  2. No irritants (except for brands that use BO), no talc, no flagrances, no alcohol, no preservatives, no chemical UV filters…
  3. As far as we know, the production isn’t toxic to humans, animals (vegan) or environment
  4. Great coverage, superb colour matching, blending very well
  5. Great product variety – satin finish, matte finish, glowy finish…
  6. Easy application and blending = no visible lines à la “yellow face, white neck”
  7. Nice, natural finish – especially for fair skin types who are otherwise used to get sad yellow or cakey pink

On the minus side:

  1. Tricky: You need to pick a real mineral makeup product, not the fake one in the first place
  2. It’s just ground minerals, nothing more, so there is no moisturising agent – you need to pay attention to applying your daily moisturiser or a face oil – and as any other makeup, it needs to be neatly removed before going to bed
  3. We should pay attention to not breathing in the powder (well, this applies to any non-mineral powder out there, with talc being a proven no-go)

Well, I think that’s it for now.

Stay safe and look great! 😉


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at BEAUTYCALYPSE.com (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

16 Responses

  1. Stacey Kreuscher

    Have you ever heard of Zuii Organic? Please would you let me know what do you think of it? It has mica using 5% less. Is it safe??

  2. Vivien

    I had no idea of some of this, thanks! I don’t put a lot on my skin, mostly Monsia skin cream (uses natural ingredients, and it’s really good) but I’ve been wanting more products to try.

  3. You can also try Glam Girl Naturals Cosmetics, their makeup line is great, is 100% gluten-free, cruelty-free and 95% vegan. So nice, beautiful shades, and their makeup is just so good on your skin, I absolutely love it. I get compliments all the time and I am in love with this makeup! Try Glam Girl Naturals Cosmetics!

  4. Oh gosh, the more I read, the more I realize the less I know. 😦 Including that talc is bad–soooo, there is nothing too basic to say!

    Like many redheads, I have sensitive skin with a tendency towards redness in winter (yes, even when well moisturized) so how is the coverage for the mineral products mentioned? Hmmm?

    I am freaked out about what you are going to say about nail polish but am ready! So when you can, I would like some suggestions please…

  5. BLYSS chocolate

    thanks for the tips! i had no idea about this! love that you mention aussie brand Inika…. i will go order their materials now!

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