Makeup has been around for thousands of years, used to alter one’s appearance. In ancient times, people would use a mixture of metal, burnt almonds, and other materials as eyeliner; pigments from berries as lipstick; and lead-based cosmetics to powder their faces. Toxic substances like arsenic were unwittingly used in the pursuit of beauty.

These days, people are still coloring their faces and disguising blemishes with cosmetics but with arguably cleaner ingredients. Still, some of the ingredients in present-day makeup can cause irritation and potentially more severe health problems. More people are thus becoming interested in the benefits of mineral makeup, which is made of purer ingredients and is said to be gentler on skin. Read on to find out the difference between commercial makeup and mineral makeup, and whether making the switch is right for you.

The Make-up of Commercial Makeup

The great thing about commercial makeup is that it is widely available, comes in a dizzying array of colors, has staying power, and can be stored for longer than less-mainstream makeup types.

The down side is that the waxes, oils, pigments, and preservatives that give them color, make them better adhere to skin, and last longer can also cause skin irritation, among other health issues. Some ingredients you should be wary of are:

Parabens. These preservatives extend the shelf life of your beauty products but has been linked to breast cancer risk, endocrinal disruption, and skin allergies.

Fragrance. This very vaguely named ingredient can cause allergies, skin irritation, and respiratory and reproductive issues.

Phthalates. This ingredient may be linked to endocrine disruption, increased cancer risk, and even reproductive birth defects.

Formaldehyde. Check your eye shadow for this ingredient, which has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens.

Propylene glycol. A hydrating agent that helps other ingredients penetrate skin, propylene glycol can also irritate skin.

Synthetic colors. Makeup comes in many exciting shades. But it follows that these unnatural-looking colors come from artificial sources and may be a carcinogen or skin irritant.

Mineral Makeup Basics

Mineral makeup is made of zinc, titanium oxide, iron oxides, talc, and other similar, more natural ingredients that have been ground into very tiny particles. It is free from the waxes, oils, fragrances, and preservatives of commercial makeup. It has come a long way from just loose powders and now comes in the form of liquid foundations, tinted moisturizers, and even lipstick.

The benefits of mineral makeup are that they have fewer (if any) synthetic ingredients, which may make them kinder to sensitive skin and better for overall health in general, that they feel lighter on skin, and that they’re great for that no-makeup makeup look.

Those with sensitive or acne-prone skin shouldn’t rush to throw all their commercial makeup away and replace everything with mineral makeup just yet though. While it’s true that less synthetic ingredients may mean less clogging of pores that can cause irritation, there is no magic product that does wonders for everyone. Skin type is a highly individual thing, and you’ll still need to go through some trial and error to find the best type of makeup for you, mineral or otherwise.

While mineral makeup is also oil-free, it doesn’t necessarily make it the best makeup for acne-prone skin. It can mix together with the oils in your skin, producing a darker, cakey finish. Overdoing the oil control can also backfire and signal your skin to produce even more oil. It might be better to first come up with a suitable skin-care routine to address your underlying skin issues rather than trying to cover them up with cosmetics. Your best bet is to find something that’s especially formulated for oily skin.

And one more thing about mineral makeup: It may be trickier to apply, normally requiring the use of a brush or a beauty blender.

Which One Is Right for You?

If you don’t have any skin sensitivity issues, then you can probably go ahead and keep using commercial makeup. As it offers a wide variety of colors, it’s also better to use commercial makeup if you can’t find a true match among the mineral makeup lines on offer. Just make sure to check the ingredients list for potential skin irritants and other harmful ingredients.

If you have sensitive skin and commercial makeup typically causes you to break out or brings about other signs of irritation, then it may be worth giving mineral makeup a go. You still have to be a savvy consumer and review the ingredients list—some products may just be labeled “mineral” for marketing purposes and may in fact have some bulking agents and other synthetic materials in there. Go for a trusted brand to ensure that you’re getting the best mineral makeup.



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