Terri has long been singing the praises of the light, natural look you can get with these ubiquitous powders, but other friends of mine have complained that they are dry and not so great at concealing wrinkles. Looks aside, my main question as we started this test was, are mineral foundation really as pure and safe as their marketing suggests? Not necessarily, it turns out. The term "mineral" can be used on any product that has minerals - typically mica, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide - as its main ingredients, regardless of what not-so-natural additives it has, like fragrance, dye, and preservatives. You have to do your homework to know which companies really sell a clean product.
In addition to non-mineral additives, many popular drugstore brands (Bare Escentuals, Revlon, Avon, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Cover Girl, Almay) contain bismuth oxycholoride, which is a mineral but also a non-natural byproduct of lead and copper processing that has been known to cause rashes, irritation, and acne for some users. There are also formulas made with mineral nanoparticles, whose tiny size allows the body to absorb them readily by inhalation or broken skin and whose effects are not yet known. It's a jungle out there.
Terri and I waded through the mass of mineral makeups to arrive at these nine picks we can wholeheartedly recommend in terms of both performance and purity (as quantified by the Environmental Working Group's amazing Skin Deep Cosmetics Database). To have a perspective on prices, note that 10 g of makeup can last 2-3 months if you wear it daily. Now get your kabuki brushes ready and check out our reviews.
- Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation - This natural powder goes on super light and blends easily, imparting even skin tone and covering minor imperfections with an extra flick of the brush. Alima offers a very wide selection of colors, so with a few of their $1.50 sample packs, you're sure to find a match. Also, the packaging is downright adorable. ($22 for 7.5 g, EWG score 1 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Korres Mineral Foundation Wild Rose Talc-Free Brightening Foundation SPF 30 -This powder gives you a subtle "candlelight glow" rather than a matte finish, which Korres attributes to the rose quartz in the formula. It feels light but stays put all day, and the sun protection is a nice bonus. ($28 for 8.5 g, No EWG score)
- Elegant Minerals Mineral Foundation SPF 15 - We found this no-frills brand very impressive, giving a photo finish that lasts all day long. Seeing as lots of inexpensive minerals blow away by end of day, that's no small feat for makeup that costs just a fraction of many other brands. ($9.50 for 10 g, EWG score 1 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Youngblood Natural Mineral Foundation - If other mineral formulas are too sheer for your needs, this one will not disappoint. It has more pigment for greater coverage, yet still blends easily for a natural, not at all mask-like look. ($42 for 10 g, No EWG score)
- Faerie Organic Mineral Foundation - Very sheer, this powder still gives a long lasting matte finish. It's another great value in natural makeup. ($18 for 30 g, EWG score 3 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Rejuva Minerals Mineral Foundation - This 100% natural and non-toxic powder comes in a simple, lightweight paper case that would be ideal for travel. It gives you a warm, natural tone and blends very well. ($29.95 for 10 g, EWG score 0 out of 10 - no hazard)
- Afterglo Cosmetics Organic Mineral Foundation - In addition to being all natural, this formula is infused with organic botanicals. We loved the way the powder performed and also got a kick out of Afterglo's mini-kabuki brush in a keychain case that allows a gal to take her show on the road. ($32 for 10 g, EWG score 2 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Terra Firma Hydrasilk Mineral Foundation with Silk - Terra Firma pitches this makeup as offering buildable coverage and it delivers, letting you stop at a light veil or brush on seamless layers of even, matte color. Another makeup at a great price for the quality. ($24.99 for 50 g, EWG score 2 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Zosimos Botanicals Mineral Foundation - Loads of color options mean most ladies can find a match here by experimenting with samples, and the price is right for light, long lasting, sheer coverage. ($30 for 30 g, EWG score 2 out of 10 - low hazard)
Are you using mineral makeup? What are your favorite brands?