Mineral Magic: Why makeup made from rocks is rocking the cosmetics world

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Shop the beauty aisles in any store—from drugstores to health food chains—and you’ll come across makeup claming to be “natural” and “made from pure minerals.” Mineral makeup may seem like today’s biggest trend, but the stuff has actually been around since the 1970s—if not longer: How do you think Cleopatra created her smoky eye? Evidence suggests she and other Egyptians used an incarnation of today’s mineral-based products.

Much of mineral makeup’s current popularity has to do with its natural, “eco” origins. Green is good, as we’ve begun to understand, and true mineral makeup is as green as it gets. Manufacturers use finely pulverized and crushed stones—like mica, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide—which all come straight from the Earth, to create powders and potions that are free of potentially toxic ingredients like talc. The rich colors are drawn from natural iron oxides instead of synthetic dyes, and because it’s very difficult for bacteria to grow on minerals, the makeup can be made without the use of harmful preservatives typically found in traditional makeup.

Natural origins aside, women are also loving mineral makeup because it’s good for their skin. There’s a recent desire for cosmetics that don’t just beautify but that offer health benefits to boot (think lipglosses that lock in moisture and foundation that prevents aging), and makeup made from minerals has those qualities in spades. A few of the most notable benefits:

1. It’s perfect for problematic skin types:

Truly natural mineral makeup is free of harsh fragrances, dyes and preservatives, which dermatologists say are the main offending ingredients found in traditional makeup that can irritate sensitive skin. Just keep in mind that not all mineral makeup is created equal; there is no government regulated standard for what mineral makeup can and can not include, so be sure to read a product’s label before purchasing to avoid any potentially irritating ingredients.

2. Minerals can have a calming effect:

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, two minerals commonly found in mineral makeup, actually have anti-inflammatory properties. This is great if you have a skin condition like rosacea or acne that causes your complextion to look red. Not only will mineral makeup conceal the problem but it can also correct it. Dermatologists even say it’s safe to use after anti-aging treatments like peels and can speed up skin’s recovery. But don’t be tempted to sleep in your makeup: No matter how safe and natural, it’s always important to wash your face before heading to bed.

3. It keeps you safe from the sun:

The sun’s rays are skin’s enemy number one, causing the vast majority of aging. Many minerals offer your skin sun protection: They sit on the surface of the skin, instead of being absorbed by it, and block UV rays from penetrating and doing any damage. While some mineral makeup will have an SPF rating of 15 or higher, it’s still important to wear sunscreen if you plan on spending your day in the sun.

Of course the best reason to try mineral makeup is because it makes your skin look better and more beautiful. While traditional products can be thick and cakey, mineral-based foundations and powders have a light and airy texture and float on skin’s surface. Instead of settling into and highlighting fine lines, mineral formulas reflect light to help skin look more even and smooth. And you’ll never have to give up on the colors you crave—mineral eye shadows, blushes and lip glosses come in every hue you can imagine. So do yourself a favor and embrace the mineral makeup trend. Your skin will thank you!

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