Finding the perfect foundation is the holy grail of make-up. Get the wrong shade and you end up looking more ghoulish than groomed. I’ve wasted a small fortune over the years on products that either turn me Tango-ed or morph me into a bit-part actor from Twilight. But now I’ve discovered mineral make-up and I’m all aglow.
Mineral make-up isn’t new – if you’re an avid beauty hound you’ll have seen it advertised in the glossies. But if, like me, you flip over the beauty pages and are allergic to department stores, it probably passed you by.
‘Mineral make-up is literally made from crushed mined minerals,’ says Sarah Stacey, co-author of The Green Beauty Bible (Kyle Cathie). ‘Titanium dioxide, mica, iron oxides, pearl and even gold.’ She explains that blends of these all-natural minerals and crystals are ‘micro-pulverised’ to form microscopic flat crystals which overlap each other on the skin, allowing ‘skin to breathe and function normally’.
The pioneers in the field worked with cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists because, not only was the make-up very gentle, it also had surprising anti-inflammatory properties. For example Susan Posnick explains that, after suffering from skin cancer, she wanted healthy make-up that would protect the skin. ‘Colourflo was born out of necessity, not vanity,’ she says. ‘I wanted to be able to protect my own skin with healthy coverage – not multiple layers that would melt off in the heat.’
Unlike normal foundations, which can clog pores and irritate sensitive skin, mineral make-up actually protects the skin from pollution and many brands also offer a natural sunscreen (SPF 20+) thanks to the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide they contain (although dermatologists warn against relying totally on make-up for sun protection). It’s a boon for people with skin conditions such as acne and rosacea and can be used directly after cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing. However most women simply love it for its natural ‘turn-back-the-clock’ effect.
Be warned – it does take a little getting used to. Mineral makeup usually comes either as a loose powder or contained within the handle of a brush, which dispenses the powder. You simply swirl it onto the face, in a circular movement, building up as many layers as you need. So it works as base, concealer and powder all in one.
Sarah Stacey is a huge fan of Susan Posnick’s Colorflo. ‘You can build it to cover pretty well any blemish or, as I do, just sweep it on the bits that need it.’
Having tested a fair few, I would agree but I also rate the grand dame of minerals, Jane Iredale – plus Mineralogie and Priori’s CoffeeBerry. The latter two push the boundaries of healing makeup. CoffeeBerry adds antioxidant polyphenols from the coffee fruit, promising to help wrinkles and fine lines. Mineralogie goes one further – if you can’t find the perfect match with their ready-to-wear foundations, they will tailor-blend one for you, adding in botanical extras (green tea, grapeseed, liquorice root etc) to help with specific skin problems. It’s not cheap (£40 for the normal range; £50 for the tailor-blends) but refills cost £35 and if you have tricky skin it could be a godsend.
Many of these top-notch brands are only available through salons and spas but mineral magic has now spread right through the beauty spectrum. However Sarah Stacey urges caution. ‘Many traditional foundations and powders are now being given the label ‘mineral’ when they actually contain much more than pure minerals: preservatives, fillers, petrochemicals etc,’ she warns.
Seems it’s worth digging a little deep to mine the protective powers of the earth.
Susan Posnick – www.SkinBrands.co.uk ; 020 8997 8541
Jane Iredale – www.janeiredale.com ; 0208 450 7111
Priori CoffeeBerry – www.cosmestore.co.uk ; 0845 555 2121
Mineralogie – www.mineralogie.co.uk ; 020 8868 4411
Does natural really deliver?
Natural make-up has come on in leaps and bounds but sadly it doesn’t always live up to its synthetic sisters.
NATURAL SUPERSTARS: powder foundation; blusher; lip balm, eye shadow; bronzer; eye pencils
NATURAL NOT QUITE THERE YETS: liquid foundation; lipstick, lipliner, mascara (and particularly waterproof mascara)