Mineral make-up, best mineral makeup

 Mineral make-up, oh how I love you

Last year, with a gentle nudge from my dermatologist, I started clearing my medicine cabinet of perfumey products. All the faux fragrances, she kindly explained, were wreaking havoc on my sensitive skin. It was time for a kinder, gentler beauty routine.

After I de-Costcoed my shampoos and conditioners for scent-free hair care, I turned my attention to my overflowing, over-fragranced, past-their-prime cosmetics. I filled up the trash can with the bargain buys, cakey lipsticks and used-once (in college?) eye shadows. I was ready for a make-up make-over, and minerals were on my mind.

Mineral make-up, best mineral makeup

We've probably all (sadly but truthfully) been awake for one of those kooky late-night informercials hawking mineral make-up. I could never bring myself to actually phone an operator to fill an order for the stuff, but the marketing clearly burrowed itself into my brain somewhere along the line. As product developers in cubicles somewhere in cheered, I was on my to Ulta to become (more) naturale.

Mineral make-up does not have the fillers, talc, oil, chemicals or fragrances that many other kinds of cosmetics do. It won't block your precious facial pores and is non-comedogenic. Because minerals are inert, the make-up won't harbor bacteria and therefore, don't need preservatives. Finally, the make-up is finely-milled so it is less likely to get all cloggy and cakey.

If mineral make-up isn't all that nasty stuff, then what is it?

It is made of crushed, concentrated pigment that most often comes in a powder form. It is gentle enough to sleep in (which might not seem like a selling point until you're sleeping on the couch at your in-laws' house or are – ahem, I tip my hat – at one of those new-relationship sleep-overs) and is because it is free of all those extras, is touted to be non-irritating. Zinc oxide makes gives it a gentle touch for those with acne or rosacea, and titanium dioxide provides a natural SPF. I imagine many of you are thinking what I was thinking: If it only came with a loving babysitter and a pair of size-8 stillettos, it'd be the perfect package. I went for it.

I began with Bare Escentuals. I fell in love with their i.d. Bare Minerals line as soon as I saw the neatly-packaged starter kit, packed with tiny tubs of powdery goodness and beginner brushes. It took about four more minutes for me to realize I was transforming into a mineral make-up lifer (OK, four minutes after I stopped the cheesey instructional DVD and tried the products for myself...note to producers: consider scripts).

Bare Escentuals encourages a swirl-tap-buff method, which helps prevent that pancake make-up effect by leaving only small amounts of the make-up on the brush. And you will really only need a small amount to cover most of your face, making the $25 price tag feel quite reasonable. Mastering the method took a few tries (and admittedly, a few cursed questions about how in the world I would ever have enough time or arms to swirl-tap-buff myself to beauty with a toddler on my hip), but now my morning routine is fast and easy.

Mineral make-up, best mineral makeup

Lots of reviewers I've read hype the lightweight , "second-skin" feel of mineral make-up and I wholeheartedly agree. It is wonderful to scrape off the foundation for good in favor of a layer or two of this stuff. If it is one of those funky days when more than two layers of make-up are required, it still looks natural and lovely. After all, two layers of foundation would surely land you in a before pic on some embarrassing Oprah show toute de suite, mais non?

While I adore that my make-over has "let my natural beauty shine through" rather than completely "paint the barn," my one complaint about my new cosmetics is poor blemish coverage, even using the special concealer brush. My advice is to begin with a bit of your favorite concealer and then go about your mineralizing. One of my friends also pointed out that the powderiness sinks into tiny lines more than liquid make-up, and while I agree, I am willing (for now) to file this under "natural beauty."

Another benefit? The brushes. Oh, the brushes. They are luxe and they are lovely, and once you dust your face with the Kabuki or the shadow brushes, you too will be tossing all those scratchy, little numbers thrown into your eyeshadow duo compacts.

I've ventured out in the mineral world, both out of curiosity and desperation. I was pleased to find that Ulta's own brand of mineral ware offers up brushes of near-equal softness and quality, and that their sparkly eye shadows can last from Mommy & Me yoga through girls' night out. I will stick to what I know for the basics, but I will definitely try Ulta's lower-priced options for the fun accessories and glammy stuff.

I knew I was hardcore on earthen cosmetics when I was irritated that mainstream make-up manufacturers were in the game. One weekend getaway, desperate in a small town WalMart after leaving my toiletries case at home, I gave in and tried the Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Mineral Powder Foundation. Nearly ten bucks less than i.d. Bare Minerals, I thought it could possibly be a goldmine. Sadly, poor packaging made it nearly impossible to use the brush to actually sweep up the foundation and after four or five re-applications in one day, I gave up. Needless to say, I won't be venturing into the drugstore aisles for my minerals anymore.

Other well-loved mineral make-up makers include the much-publicized Jane Iredale, newcomer PUR Minerals and the self-proclaimed "matriarchs" of it all, Colorscience, as well as a long list of others. And if you still haven't had enough of this cosmetic cult craze, check out one of the beauty blogs dedicated to all this dreaminess. Not all mineral make-up is equal, at least for your skin type, so checking ingredients, considering what your face needs and reading reviews will help you make an informed purchase amongst the many choices.

This morning, as I brush on my shimmery, cotton candy-colored blush in all its mineral goodness, I know that going fragrance-free has been right for me. Mineralized or otherwise, I encourage you to find your way to make your face look and feel fabulous, so that your natural beauty shines on through, too!

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