The Pros and Cons of Mineral Foundation Makeup

Is it just me, or is the mineral makeup business booming right now?

While most of the brands used to be lesser-than-known cult brands, now major drugstore brands like L’Oreal, Maybelline and Revlon are housing mineral makeup collections.

So what’s the big deal about mineral makeup? (For newbies, I’m talking specifically about mineral foundation makeup, as that’s the most talked about right now.)

I tried out mineral makeup for a number of reasons. One, because I heard it was non-comedogenic and good for sensitive skin. I am definitely no expert as I’ve only tried a few mineral foundation makeup brands so far; however, when hearing about many others negative reactions some are having, I decided to really dig deep and see what the real pros and cons of mineral foundation makeup were. Here’s what I found.


1. Negative Reaction to ingredients. Mineral makeup boasts very little ingredients, so it remains pure and natural, and clean on your skin. (This is great.) However, some haven’t been so lucky as there have been many complaints about these two popular ingredients, Bismuth Oxychloride and Mica. Bismuth is said to be very itchy in hotter climates (I can vouch for that! Bare Escentuals made my skin itch like crazy), and in worse cases your skin becomes so itchy it peels and your face turns very red and blotchy. Mica has been reported to cause some breakouts, and new reports are saying that zinc oxide, another ingredient, is said to be pore-clogging.

2. The Look. Of all the mineral makeup brands I have tried before, I loved the initial look it gave: Matte, natural, and light. However, there were some not-so-pleasant side effects after wearing them for an hour or so. Looking closely at the Pure Luxe, it looked very cakey and it somehow looked like it had streaks on my skin. Because of the ingredient Mica, some complain that mineral makeup gives a very shiny, oily look on your skin. Also, keep in mind that because they are powder foundations, they can actually accentuate fine lines, wrinkles and pores.

3. Application. This is my biggest peeve, but obviously is just personal preference. But application can get messy – I’ve had one too many powder spills on my computer, floor, you name it. When traveling, it can be a hassle.


1. Skin Benefits. For those who are lucky enough to not get any skin reactions to the ingredients, mineral makeup is actually very pure and good for the skin. It’s also non-comedogenic and great for acne-prone skin. When done right, it looks very natural – like you have perfect skin already.

2. Build-able coverage. Mineral makeup is light, and therefore you can build it to whatever coverage you want – light, medium of heavy.

3. Natural UV. Mineral makeup has natural UV, so it protects the skin at the same time.

That being said, what are your thoughts on mineral makeup? Love it or hate it?

All in all, I personally like mineral makeup. Even though I haven’t had too many success with it (yet), I have heard too many raves and I do love the initial look mineral makeup gives – perhaps I have just not found the right brand yet.

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  1. Great low down of the pros and cons! I’ve tried several brands of mineral foundation too and didn’t quite like it (mainly cuz my skin’s dry that most powder foundation cakes on me) until I started using Everyday Minerals original glow foundation. I don’t prefer it over liquid foundation but I do like it for school days when liquid just feels too heavy.

  2. I can sympathize with you on the Bare Escentuals. That was the reason why I broke up in the first place. It was so bad I had acne for 2 years. Never again will I go back to that.

  3. Hey, thanks for all the comments! 🙂

    Connie, I liked Everyday minerals but I ordered all the wrong colors so I hardly wore it in the end! Will have to get the right color ’cause I’ve been hearing so much about it, and from what I could tell it seemed pretty good!

    Oh and that’s another ‘con’ of mineral makeup, I find it so hard to find the right color online 🙁

    Laarni you’re most welcome! 🙂 I will have to check out Ellana, I’ve never heard of it before!

    Anne, you had acne for 2 years due to Bare Escentuals? :O That sounds awful…Did you ever find out why it made you break out like that?

  4. hey Shen,

    I had just bought the Body Shop Nature’s Minerals about a week ago which I’ve used once now; will write a full review on that soon once I’ve used it more…been stuck at home doing assignments, so I haven’t had a chance to fully use it yet! 🙁

    I don’t wear foundation but before all these MMU experiments, I was using a loose powder by Lancome. It was actually very good but I thought I should switch to MMU since it was natural and after hearing so many good things about it!

    Which mineral makeup do you use? 🙂

    1. I actually work for a Dillard’s Lancome and love our Loose Mineral Powder, Ageless Mineral. Not sure yet though what the cons are on it.

  5. i enjoy mineral makeup a lot sans the mess. this is a great review. very factual and something a lot could relate to. so, what foundation are you using now in exchange for your mmu?

  6. I originally liked the natural look mineral foundation gave me, but after an hour or two, my T-zone would start to look like an oil slick. Liquid foundation would never give me that. Of course, there was that problem with the rashes. Oh, and it’s messy!

  7. Try the mineral foundation from Silk Naturals! I love them even tho the initial mixing drove me nuts. (You are given satchets of powder in diff shades and are suppose to “custom blend” your foundation yourself.)

  8. Tine, I agree with you! I do look like an oil slick and if you look closely to your face after that, the product seems to create lines and look as if it’s about to slide off!

    K, thanks for your comment 🙂 The mixing does sound time consuming but I guess its worth it if you get a correct shade? Does Silk Naturals do well in hot climates?

  9. hey. really nice and informative. for myself i am still using normal compact powders. i dont find a real raison to change since its fine for me and no irritation. but i have heard allot about mineral makeup and will maybe test some samples and see.

  10. I’ve read reviews on Laura Mercier’s Mineral powder. They say it’s really great,lasts long,looks great, no reactions and stuff. I’m thinking of going to the mall to try it out. I’ve had a salesgirl put The Body Shop mineral foundation on me, I felt like it didn’t cover anything 😛 Write a review on Laura Mercier if you can, would love it 🙂

  11. Hey Puff, thanks for your comment.

    I have heard great things about Laura Mercier’s line as well, but I found out it had the ingredient Bismuth, and from my experience with Bismuth from Bare Escentuals, it would mean my skin would go crazy with itchiness so I decided not to buy it! (The weather here is very hot, Bismuth tends to not work too well in hot climates.)

    Where do you live? You should go try LM to see it it works for you… then tell me about it 😛

    Does anyone recommend LM’s mineral powder? I guess if everyone says it really is great then I can always sample it at the shop and run to the bathroom and wash my face off if it reacts badly! haha

  12. my mom arrived from the US with bare escentuals mmu which she tried on me. it was way back 2005 and i didn’t even know about mineral make ups before, but it sure did give me the same effects it did on you. when mmu became a hit, i asked around and learned about Luminare ( which didn’t have any of the known toxic ingredients on mmu (bismuth oxchloride and talc)…it’s a bit pricey though compared to ellana. i asked ellana customer service about those ingredients and they replied about not having them. …can’t wait to try ellana on my next paycheck! =)

  13. Hey Sunmom … I will have to check out Luminare and Ellana. I tried something called Pure Luxe Cosmetics, where it didn’t have talc or bismuth, it’s not expensive at all. You might want to look:

    My friend tried the MAC mineralize collection and it looked great! However, I read their ingredients and the first thing was Talc! Does anybody use MAC’s mineral collection?

  14. Hey jam, glad you’re back! 🙂

    Yup! I wrote about bismuth above, how I tried a powder from a friend who uses Bare Escentuals – yikes! My face went insane with itchiness! So I definitely try to avoid anything with Bismuth – I hear it’s because of the climate (it’s very hot here).

    I’m sorry the Body Shop didn’t work for you! I thought it was alright, did the job well but I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing – I’ve been trying an organic brand that I really love the past two weeks, am gonna write a review up soon, look out for it 😀

  15. oh.. that’s okay.. 🙂
    I tried the body shop minerals.. but it’s not pure.. and when i tried it.. my skin looks dry.. maybe it doesn’t fit on my skin. 🙂
    and by the way.. i thought bismuth is not good for the skin.. most of the buyers check if there’s bismuth oxychloride content on the minerals..
    but.. Luminare for me is the best.. 🙂

  16. I bought the L’Oreal Bare Naturale despite balking at what I paid for it. I blamed myself for what now seems to be a simple case of product falling far below hype. I found it had the “beginnings of itch” – more like a sensation of extra tiny pins pricking. I blamed it on the brush (or how I used it) – now I know better. I also found it emphasized the tiny lines on my 45 y/o face. Finally, I kind of felt there was something a little off about the color or maybe how it laid on my face – couldn’t put my finger on it so I dismissed it. Suffice it to say that the itch & wrinkle emphasis was enough to keep it from being the revelation promised & reason to apply foundation rather than forsake it. Now where can I learn about the foundations that are supposed to “self-adjust” to your skin tone???

  17. jam – Thanks! I will look into them … but I have two pots to finish first so after that 😛

    Hey Laura. I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with mineral makeup! That itch you feel is from the ingredient bismuth, and I had the exact same time – so try to avoid makeup with that ingredient. There are many more mineral makeup without that ingredient, like Pure Luxe, The Body Shop Nature’s Minerals, and many organic lines. Just remember to check the ingredients list.

    However, if you don’t like the way it emphasizes on wrinkles, you can switch to a liquid alternative. I haven’t tried so many of them, but here are some products that I’ve tried that you might be interested in looking at:

    I hope I helped, and good luck! 🙂

  18. How about the liquid foundations that claim to self-adjust to the color of your complexion? (Anyone notice Jessica Alba advertising both a foundation YOU custom mix/create & one that’s supposed to adjust itself?) How are they working out? I remember when they came out with the self-adjusting lip-sticks & what interesting novelty colors they turned (not real flattering)…

  19. Hey Laura,

    Those foundations are by Revlon, right? I don’t think they are mineral foundations, and to be honest the whole “adjusting to your skintone” sounds like a marketing scheme to me. There used to be a product of gel blush that was said to adjust to your natural blush color, however there were reviews online where some people just applied it to a piece of paper, and it just changed into some default pink color. So, these “self adjusting” colors just seem to adjust to some color that would look different on different skin tones, but are basically the same color.

    I guess you can try them out but the “create your own” sounds like it would work more than the self-adjusting formula.

    And yes, I guess since she’s the face of Revlon, it doesn’t really matter that she’s advertising two different foundations! Normally that won’t be “allowed” but I guess it’s the same company so nobody really minds 😛

    Let me know on what you find!

  20. I tried – they are really affordable, have great sample sizes to try and I like the texture (and the fact that they don’t do the ingedients, that are bad for you).

  21. I have tried Body Shops’s mineral foundation and it’s great! It does not give a full coverage but NATURAL smooth looking face. Considering I used to have a lot of breakouts, with mineral foundation, my face settled down. I strongly recommend this product to women who want to look naturally smooth velvety skin!

  22. I love the Goodskin products (mineral powder) its from a line of Estee Lauder, its not heavy and had no reaction to the ingredients which it contained. I would love for you to try it out and hopefully you will agree!!

  23. I have been looking for a good mineral makeup, I was using Physicans formula mineral wear which is ok but its just ok. I found an online source that is awesome, Meow Cosmetics. They offer samples of EVERYthing and the samples are relatively decent sized so you get to find out how it works for you without spending a fortune and wasting unused stuff. They are pure mineral , no bismuth, but they do use some boron nitride, which is fine by me. They look great and I don’t have any itching issues. I love the eye liners!! Lots of awesome colors. Check it out.

    1. I tried Physician’s Formula too, their pressed mineral for acne prone skin and it made my face feel tight and dry when I’m normally super oily!

  24. I really digging Everyday Minerals. The foundation color I order was slightly lighter than my natural skin tone, so I added a little of Everyday Minerals Everday Bronzer and it works great! Plus it’s at a great price for those on a budget. I also recommend Signature Minerals, which is also wonderful and they reply very quickly and helpful if you have any makeup question or questions period.

    1. I forgot one more brand. It’s called Beaute Minerals and I like that brand too. I like the concealer, primer, and blush. They sell good quality minerals at really awesome price.

  25. I use Bare Essentuals every day and I am happy with it! The first week I used it I did feel a little itchy but nothing to wash off right away. After that first week my skin adjusted. I have never had a break out but I have always had good luck with my skin. I love the layering effect and that all the colors can be blended easily. And I like that I can buy my mineral make up in their boutique shops and earn money with a punch card.

  26. I’ve been using The Body Shops mineral powder for about three years.
    I absolutely love it, my acne breakouts have cleared up immensely.
    But I found that a really good skin care regiment made my skin look
    Great with the products I was using. And I’ve learned to never use anyone
    Elses makeup on my skin. We don’t all practice the same hygiene

  27. personally i dont wear makeup but have been looking through a couple of brand sites since its fun looking at all the different stuff 😛
    my skin is extremely sensitive since i have eczema and ive been looking at Jane Iredale Mineral Makeup and it sounds pretty great! dont take my word for it though. im no makeup expert lol

  28. I use Mac makeup brand of mineral foundation. I really like their liquid foundation. It’s light, applies evenly, and stays on long. So far I haven’t had a break out. I use their mineral blush as well, which is a powder and so far I love it.

  29. I wear the perfect mineral makeup. I wore Bare escentuals for a couple of years and over time it dried out my skin. I recently discovered essentually basics. My friend Tosha makes the makeup in her kitchen. she has VERY sensitive skin. Instead of oxychloride, she uses clay, which is a natural moisturizer and gives even better coverage! I love it!!

  30. I grew up on a farm in Illinois where the Mica content of the soil was high. I worked in the fields for my Dad, and let me tell ya, Mica can really make your skin itch, and no matter how finely it is milled, such as for Bare Escentuals, it still has little jagged crystal edges that can make superfine abrasasions on the skin. I tried Bare Escentuals faithfully. Made my face itch like I’d been driving a cabless tractor, working dry ground with a strong wind, my face full of field dust. I tried it over various moisturizers and even with the Bare Escentuals primer. Same thing. Although one could argue my response was psychosomatic, one could not argue with the little red lines that would appear across my face, the red blothes, the hives that occured. Hypoallergenic? I don’t think so. Good for everyone’s skin,….I don’t think so. Gave it to a friend to try. Same thing happened to her. Tossed it out. Went back to my tried and tested Clinique powder foundation, so light and covering and enhancing, and comfortable. Sorry, Bare Escentuals, never again!

  31. I work at a make-up counter and had one our freelance make-up artists tell me that Bare Minerals was the worse of them. I wasn’t sure about that until she mentioned people saying it enlarged their pores, comparing it to rubbing dirt on your face. I have actually noticed recently that my pores are huge when they never were before. In fact, the first time I ever remember seeing my pores (other than when I have blackheads) was when I went to Galveston and the air was so salty I could practically see the bottom of my pores lol GROSS! I broke out instantly. It also made me wonder, you say it’s non comedogenic (which I have come to understand means that the oil molecule is actually too large to permeate the pores) and I know both loose and pressed powders can have oil or be oil free, but how can a powder include non comedogenic oil? Specifically a powder as finely milled as mineral and more specifically, Bare Minerals?

    1. Also, now that it’s obvious that we can’t yet trust the word mineral to be true (oh FDA and such, why do you take so long!?), what ORGANIC make-up do you suggest?

  32. Pingback: Eye Rockz Mineral Eyeshadow Review — BEAUTY FOOL - a Singapore beauty blog

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