It's flawless finish meets kind-to-skin ingredients with these foolproof mineral make-up formulations. But which one's right for your skin type?
Since landing on the scene a few decades ago, mineral make-up has been changing the face of the beauty industry –and it's here to stay. In fact, countless industry experts reckon it's the best foundation for a slew of skin problems.
Not only is it thought to be kinder on sensitive skin, it's also non-comedogenic; meaning it doesn't clog pores and won't lead to breakouts. It also absorbs excess oil – so if you're struggling to find a foundation for oily skin that stays in place, look no further.
But there's a mineral foundation for every skin type: from acne-prone, to ultra-sensitive, to combination and dry. Here's everything you need to know about the make-up game changer.
What exactly is mineral make-up?
.....and what makes it mineral?
Mineral make-up is (as it says on the tin) made from minerals, like zinc, mica and titanium oxide. These are finely milled, mixed in with pigments and then pressed to create mineral make-up. It's free from oil, waxes, synthetic fragrance and preservatives – which makes it a popular choice if you're having issues with your skin.
"One of the key characteristics of minerals is that they are naturally occurring; i.e. found in nature and not manmade," says Anna Mccann-Ellerington, Education and Events Director at bareMinerals. These minerals are likely to be extracted from "gems, rock, earth and sea that are good for your skin," she adds.
Why is mineral make-up better for your skin?
There are a number of reasons why those with problem skin love mineral make-up – the main one being its lack of irritants. Or, as Anna puts it, "Mineral make-up’s strength is what’s not in its formulations."
"Coming from Natural sources you can develop clean formulations that are free of ingredients that can clog pores, cause breakouts and sensitivity," she adds.
Not only that, mineral foundations often contain naturally occurring SPF's like zinc oxide – meaning they're great for adding additional sun protection (on top of your daily layer of the best sun cream, obvs).
Finding the best mineral foundation for your skin type
When you think of mineral make-up, it's likely that you automatically think of powders. But mineral make-up actually comes in gel and liquid formulations, too. (Here's looking at you, dry skin sufferers. Just add the best moisturiser for dry skin, and you're sorted.) In fact, says Anna, "You can add a mineral element to any makeup product, giving it a skincare benefit."
ALL skin types are likely to benefit from making the switch to mineral. But especially those who typically find it difficult to find a foundation that doesn’t irritate. If you have sensitive skin, acne prone skin, rosacea, psoriasis or eczema, mineral make-up will be your new beauty BFF.
Naturally, those with oily skin will be best served with a powder formula (try bareMinerals's classic matte Mineral Foundation); while those dealing with dry, flaky skin should opt for nourishing liquid formulations for a dewy finish (Aveda’s Inner Light™ Mineral Tinted Moisturiser is a dry skin saviour). This isn't always the case when it comes to mineral make-up, though, and there are some incredible powder and liquid formulations that will work wonders for both.
So whatever your skin type (and your budget) scroll down for our top mineral foundation picks for 2021. Flawless skin? Smashed it.
The perfect pick for oily skin, this satin-finish powder can be worn alone, or dusted over a liquid mineral foundation for added coverage. Featuring MAC’s legendary 77 Mineral Complex, it’s non-acnegenic, so won’t clog pores or irritate sensitive skin. Buff it on in circular motions with a big fluffy brush.
Though suitable for all skin types, those prone to dry skin are sure to fall in love with Aveda’s Mineral Tinted Moisturiser. Not only does it smell divine – think delicate notes of certified organic lemon, lavender bergamot and rose – but it’s packed full of mineral derived pigments and plant emollients to nourish skin while providing you with all-important coverage. For those wanting a smooth, radiant finish, you’re on to a winner this one.
Prone to oiliness and in need of touch-ups throughout the day? This Clarins Ever Matte Mineral Powder Compact is our go-to. A handbag/gym bag hero, it’s formulated with Clarins’ plant-based Skin Detox complex with mineral pigments to mattify and absorb excess sebum, while tightening pores. And yes, we’re also swooning over the packaging.
For skin days (or nights) where you need an added bit of coverage, Bobbi Brown’s Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation provides a faultless finish every single time. Promising 16-hours of wear through heat and humidity, we love that it gives a natural matte finish while still being comfortable and hydrating enough for dry skin. Infused with glycerine and a whole host of other skin-loving ingredients, it’s non-acnegenic so won’t clog pores, and free from parabens, sulphates, phthalates, sulphites and gluten, so won’t irritate.
We love that this microlight mineral foundation can be built from light to full coverage depending on the mood your skin’s in that day. It’s infused with antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, as well as sea water complex, which contains elements like calcium magnesium. It’s non-drying, too, making it suitable for dry skin. Plus it doesn’t cake in fine lines – which, after lockdown 3.0, we could all benefit from in a foundation.
Somedays, a quick dab of concealer before you join the Zoom call just won’t cut it, and you need an extra bit of coverage. Enter NYX’s mineral finishing powder. Ideal for oily skin, this matte-finish powder is one of our top picks for dusting over an SPF in the summer. The downside is that it only comes in two shades – light/medium and medium/dark, but it’s so sheer that it’ll likely give a seamless finish for most.
Unequivocally, this is one of the best setting powders out there. Its smooth application, soft matte finish and 16-hour staying power have won this cult classic countless awards over the years, and cemented it as a make-up bag staple for thousands of women across the globe. Unlike some setting powders, there’s zero flashback, making it ideal for wedding and special occasion make-up, too.
Use this illuminator, which is made up of oat extract and jojoba oil, directly on the skin by tapping it into the high points of your face (cheekbones, bridge of your nose). Or squeeze a small dollop in with your face cream or moisturiser.
You'll want to carry this compact everywhere. Multi-tasking as foundation, concealer and powder with a hit of SPF 15, it's an all-in-one foundation that'll make your make-up bag so much lighter.
bareMinerals Original Foundation is not just the best-selling mineral make-up in the US, but - prepare yourself for this - one sells every 18 seconds worldwide. If you are looking for a mineral make-up without added ingredients (which many of the cheaper brands do use), then this is the one for you. However, be warned, it does deliver a slightly shinier finish than some versions and, therefore, doesn't always flatter oily skin types. (If you're prone to shininess, be sure to opt for their matte finish mineral foundation instead.) And be sure to use their swirl, tap, buff technique to nail the look.
With its dinky in-the-lid brush and small pot, L'Oréal's True Match Minerals is a great option for on-the-go touch-ups. Put it in your hand bag to use on your morning commute. Then once you're on the train, simply dip the brush in the pot and apply to your face using circular motions.
A lot of mineral foundations have the added benefit of adding a subtle glow too. Clarins' Mineral Loose Powder gives seamless coverage, while creating a bright and radiant finish. Light enough for everyday use, it can also help protect your face against dryness. Simply buff it into your skin with a large face brush.
This super lightweight gel foundation is ideal for good skin days when you’re looking to even out your skin tone, or for subtle touch-ups over additional make-up throughout the day. Its mineral pigments give a smooth lit from within effect, while its hyaluronic acid and kalanchoe extract enriched formula make it a lovely choice for dry skin. Did we mention it’s SPF 25? Très chic.
Infused with mineral pigments to soothe and soften skin, along with anti-inflammatory kind to skin ingredients like vitamin E, this full coverage foundation controls excess oil while being cake free, long-lasting and suitable for sensitive skin. Those with combination and oily skin wanting faultless coverage will love this one.
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Kate McCusker is a freelance writer at Marie Claire UK, having joined the team in 2019. She studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, and her byline has also appeared in Dezeen, British Vogue, The Times and woman&home. In no particular order, her big loves are: design, good fiction, bad reality shows and the risible interiors of celebrity houses.