zminer68906.jpgBefore the advent of the drive-through dermo, any Hollywood actress who was recovering from a facelift would have to outsmart the press with a turban, a pair of oversized sunglasses and a trowel-size application of mineral-based foundation supplied by her dermatologist. "Mineral makeup is the only product that camouflages intense shades of blue and purple and is safer for incisions that are not completely sealed," says Dr. Stephen Mulholland, a cosmetic plastic surgeon and surgical director of SpaMedica in Toronto. Today the powders have gone mainstream, catering to everyone from women who want to hide scars and port wine stains to girls with sensitive skin who prefer all-natural ingredients.

Particle theory

Mineral-based makeup is a combination of zinc oxide (an anti-inflammatory), titanium dioxide (a natural physical sunblock), mica and bismuth oxychloride (natural light reflectors) and iron oxides (for colour). "In 30 years, these five ingredients haven’t changed," says Dr. Joan Baijnath, owner of Avanya Natural Mineral Cosmetics. "What has changed, however, is the manufacturing process. In the ’70s, many companies were still making mineral makeup in home blenders. But now a jet milling process breaks down the minerals into tiny microns, giving these products the consistency of ultra-fine powder." The new lightweight formulas have eliminated the thick, white undertones and disco-ball sparkle previously associated with mineral-based makeup. "The colours are still intense, but now a little goes a long way," explains Tracey Beaudry, director of operations for SpaMedica. "Also, the number of shades available is more realistic, reflecting the wide variety of skin tones in today’s diverse population."

The good earth

Women with sensitive skin and conditions like acne and rosacea respond particularly well to mineral-based makeup. The products are free of fragrances, talcs, dyes, waxes, oils and parabens (preservatives), so formulas won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. "Parabens can do a real number on your skin, especially if you’re trying to reduce inflammation," says Beaudry. "And, because the minerals don’t harbour bacteria, there’s virtually no risk of allergies." Beaudry recommends applying mineral-based makeup like any non-mineral foundation, blush or eyeshadow. "As the makeup goes on, it combines with your skin’s natural oils for a smooth, natural finish and a foundation that won’t melt or smudge," she says. Now that’s rock-steady!

Image courtesy Geoffry Ross

Mineral-based products
(clockwise from bottom)
• Sally Hansen Line Smoothing Mineral Lip Treatment in Tourmaline, $13. At drugstores across Canada.
• Avanya Mineral Foundation in Porcelain, $39.
• bareMinerals Blush Compatibles in Pink Ice/Ginger Spice, $28.
• Physicians Formula Magic Mosaic Multi-Colored Custom Blush in Nude/Warm Nude, $13. At drugstores across Canada.
• Youngblood Lipstick in Coral Beach, $19. At Absolute Spa across Canada,
• Youngblood Pressed Mineral Eyeshadow Quad in Cabana, $45.