Mineral makeup myths clouding the issues

Mineral makeup myths clouding the issues

(This article on mineral cosmetics appeared in the September issue of Beauty NZ. It gives an informative opinion on the limitations and difficulties of using mineral based cosmetics, especially its use for weddings, photography and special occasion makeups.)

New Zealand makeup diva Wendy Hill (right) believes there is a place for mineral makeup in the market - but it is not going to change makeup as we know it nor will it ever totally replace classic makeup.

She believes much of the current interest in mineral makeup is advertising hype, often based on misconceptions, which has confused consumers and diverted their attention away from focussing on the more important issue of the quality of the ingredients used in their makeup.

She believes much of the current interest in mineral makeup is advertising hype, often based on misconceptions, which has confused consumers and diverted their attention away from focussing on the more important issue of the quality of the ingredients used in their makeup.

"I think mineral makeup will always have a place in the market as will organic makeup, but classical makeup will always be at the forefront," she says.

"Fundamentally, mineral makeup does not contain much that is different from regular makeup because the main ingredients of most makeup, traditional and mineral, are the same - zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and mica.

"The main difference is what is left out, which is mainly ingredients such as fragrances, binders, dyes and preservatives which some people believe can be irritants. But, at the end of the day most women want makeup products that will last the course of the day or the evening and which will work for them, and to achieve that they'll get the best results with regular makeup."

When Wendy launched her signature makeup range on the New Zealand market 10 years ago, mineral makeup was barely surfacing. When it did, her company extensively researched it - as it did also with organic makeup - and found much doubt over its benefits. Extensive trials over a period of time also demonstrated that mineral makeup did not have the high performance factor of the regular Wendy Hill professional range.

The highly regarded Canadian-based pharmaceutical and dermatological chemist Ben Kaminsky - who has developed medicines and dermatology treatments for more than 30 years - says there is no proof that mineral makeup is more pure or better for the skin than any regular makeup from a reputable manufacturer.

Kaminsky says minerals such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and mica - the major ingredients of most mineral makeup - have been used in traditional cosmetics for decades. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which both have anti-inflammatory properties, are very often the main ingredients of sunscreens.

He concludes that mineral makeup has no additional health benefits or beauty properties than regular makeup, and they offer no different benefits than traditional makeup.

As a result of its research and the opinions of people like Kaminsky, Wendy Hill Cosmetics opted to carry both, adding mineral foundations and blushers and natural lipsticks to the range, face powders

being the most popular mineral item with consumers. (Illustrated right is the Wendy Hill Cosmetics range of MineralPressed Face Powders.) With its eyeshadows and eyedusts already being talc and paraben free, there was no requirement to expand the selection of mineral products further.

But as a professional brand, the company advocates to its stockists to keep its mineral products quite separate from its professional range.

"Women who like the idea of more natural products will be attracted to mineral or organic makeup because they perceive them to be more 'green'. And because they have been marketed as being more lightweight, that has some appeal to women who don't wear much makeup," Wendy says. "Also the reflective particles are thought to give the illusion of younger looking skin.

"But, because mineral makeup doesn't have the high performance factor of a professional makeup - such as our Wendy Hill professional range - when therapists or makeup artists are doing a makeup that is to be photographed such as for a wedding or for film or TV work, we strongly advise them not to use minerals so there won't be any surprises.

"Our philosophy is that as a professional makeup company, our products have to perform and they must all be photographically compatible. We've stated quite clearly to our stockists that minerals do have their place for everyday use with customers who like the idea of them and we encourage them to retail them to clients if that's what they're happy with.

"But the minute they step into any professional arena for photographic or bridal work, or for a makeup that will last the distance in all conditions, they must use our professional range.

"It's too late when an upset bride comes back into the clinic with photos of her big day showing ashen or shiny faces, and this happens rather too frequently. Photographs are what she has left at the end of the day, so I can't stress enough the importance of using technically correct products for something like a bridal makeup."

Photographically, mineral makeup can cause problems often being highly reflective and producing ashen tones and making the skin look shiny - all things that photographers don't like. There is now a recognition amongst photographers that mineral makeup does not perform well on camera.

Wendy says good quality makeup is so technologically advanced and has such high quality ingredients today, that there is little likelihood of anyone having a genuine reaction to a product. The focus of all reputable cosmetic manufacturers is to produce excellent quality, safe makeup and skincare products that will take care of the skin and offer maximum benefits and protection. These products are manufactured to meet standards set down in United States and European Union law, and are without doubt the toughest in the world.

Wendy has been a makeup artist for more than 25 years working here and overseas, and in that time she has found it rare for anyone to react to good quality products.

One area where problems can sometime arise is the eyes with sensitivity to mascara and eyeshadows, but she says that is usually a case of the sensitivity of the eyes rather than a skin reaction to a product.

Wendy is concerned that the marketing of mineral makeup has been largely based on the perception of naturalness which women perceive to be beneficial

"Today with everything that we use and eat, the perception is that natural is better which of course in most cases is true," she says. "But those in the profession need to understand that when a makeup product is marketed as mineral or natural or organic, it don't necessarily mean that it is any more natural and healthy than regular makeup products, nor that it is totally a pure product.

"This is such a grey area, with many products on the market alluded to as being 'pure' when in fact eye and lip pencils and mascaras for example cannot be 'pure' as they need additives and binders to hold them together, as traditional makeup does. In reality they are no different from regular cosmetic products."

Wendy says this illustrates another factor of the market, which is the cross over of products between mineral and regular makeup ranges, and a blurring of the facts of what mineral and natural cosmetics actually are. She maintains that some brands have marketed themselves very strongly as mineral makeup and have created the illusion that everything in their range is mineral, but the reality is that only a few of the products are actually totally mineral.

There is a school of thought that mineral cosmetics are just another way to market makeup to women, and to enable manufacturers to differentiate their products in the marketplace from other distributors.

Wendy would like to see more emphasis in the professional market placed on the quality of ingredients used in cosmetic products, whether they are regular, natural or mineral.

"I think it's more important for women to choose a reputable brand of good quality, and to me that's more important than endlessly analysing ingredients and rejecting products because of perceived and unproven fears over ingredients," she says.

"As we know, there are a lot of very poor quality makeup and skincare products now on the market, and that is the more important message that we as skincare professionals should be imparting to our clients. It doesn't need to be the most expensive product, but it needs to be of good quality.

"I cringe when I see young women or Mums going into the $2 Shop and buying their daughters lippies and eyeshadows and things, because the quality of the ingredients in those products is just not there and is more likely to cause skin irritation - that concerns me more than saying one product is greener or more natural that another.

"Women should always buy the best quality makeup they can afford. A lot of cosmetics that come on the market today are obviously using very cheap ingredients and I dread to think what's in some of them."

Wendy says reputable cosmetics come from reputable global manufacturers who have the best research and the best ingredients available for their use, and they are all the time developing new ingredients and technologies to meet the highest standards in the world and produce the most effective and protective makeup products.

"The beauty world is a huge and competitive market with billions of dollars spent every year by women - and to a growing extent by men - who will always want to look their best: that is why classical makeup will always be the favourite choice," she says.

Posted: Thu 25 Nov 2010