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Cheat Sheet: Mineral Makeup

Ever since it emerged on the makeup scene, mineral makeup has had a rabid fan base. Loyalists swear that it’s the only thing that doesn’t make them break out, and that it’s so pure you wear it overnight. We don’t condone sleeping in makeup — ever — but the claims piqued our interest. Read on to learn the ins and outs of this mineral wonder.

What is Mineral Makeup?

In spite of the visual similarities, mineral makeup is not just powder foundation. It’s actually made up of crushed pure minerals such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and mica. One of the great advantages to mineral makeup is actually the lack of fillers and preservatives included. Liquid formulas usually need some preservatives to prevent bacteria from growing, whereas mineral formulas are either loose or bound with natural ingredients like vitamin E and shea butter. High-quality mineral formulas are also free of chemical dyes and fragrance that can be irritating to sensitive skin.

Choosing a Shade

Because minerals are light reflecting, you’ll most likely need to choose a shade slightly darker than your regular makeup. The makeup will take a few moments to “set” with the oils on your skin but if you wait a few minutes and it still has a powdery effect, you may need a darker shade.


The traditional method of applying mineral makeup is using a kabuki style brush to swirl in the makeup, tap off excess, and then buff into your skin. You can also use a fluffier style brush to apply in a downward motion over your face. Take a look at the ingredient list for your makeup and check for Bismuth Oxychloride. If it’s present, buffing is important for the most natural finish.

Go Liquid

If you prefer a liquid foundation to powder but still want the benefits of a mineral formula, you can create your own. Try mixing some of the powder with water, moisturizer or lotion until it’s smooth. Apply with a foundation brush in a downward motion and it will dry as a powder.

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