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Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Mineral Powder Foundation

How to Buy Mineral Makeup

By Lisa Cohen LeeSHOP.COM Beauty Editor

Mineral makeup is getting a lot of buzz lately, but why all the hype? Devotees rave about the green aspect-no preservatives or chemicals-but also the lightweight feel, good-for-your-skin ingredients, and how naturally gorgeous your face looks after one brushstroke. Sensitive skin types are embracing minerals as well, because of the claims that these formulas won't irritate like traditional makeup. The good news is mineral makeup is everywhere these days; more and more beauty companies are adding it to their lineup. Chances are your favorite makeup brand has dipped its brush into minerals, too. If you're ready to give mineral makeup a whirl, here's the guide to getting the goods.

The Basics

Step 1Minerals: The makeup is all or partially made from finely ground minerals like, mica, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide found in the earth. It's usually free of dyes, preservatives, and chemicals that are found in traditional makeup.
Step 2Texture: Foundations, blushes, bronzers and shadows are usually a loose powder form, so that you can blend and buff the powdery particles into skin. Other textures-like lipsticks, pressed powders and creams-may contain minerals but aren't necessarily chemical-free.
Step 3Shades: For the loose powder foundation, you can blend a variety of shades to achieve your perfect match. Remember, the look is sheer rather than matte.
Step 4Packaging: For on-the-go touch-ups, look for the brush filled with powder combo. Most companies package the formula in shakers-small pots with holes on top so you can shake out the powder.
Step 5Brush: A fluffy brush is crucial to "buff and build" the powder formula. By buffing or swirling the brush onto skin, you build color and coverage.

The Lingo

Mica: Light-reflecting mineral that adds the color and shine to mineral foundation and blushes.
Titanium Dioxide: Anti-inflammatory ingredient found in almost all mineral makeups. It's touted as a good ingredient for skin conditions like rosacea and inflammatory acne, because it calms down the skin and minimizes redness. Also has natural SPF.
Tapping: The gentle shaking you do to the brush, after dipping it in the loose powder. This is done to diffuse the powder within the brush.
Buffing: The swirling motion you do when you brush the makeup onto your skin. This process lets you build color and coverage.
Non-comedogenic: A term that means the ingredients won't clog pores or cause acne.
Micronizing: The method used to turn the minerals into micro-particles to give smooth, long lasting coverage.
Bismuth Oxychloride: A pearlizing ingredient used in some mineral makeup formulations to give skin a candlelit glow. It's known to cause irritation, so sensitive skin types should steer clear of it.

The Experts

O Magazine named Maybelline Mineral Powder as the Best Mineral Makeup Line in their First Annual Spring Makeup Awards. "Liquid and powder foundations, concealer, blush, loose and pressed finishing powders all contain triple-milled mineral pigments, so you'll look flawless, never powdery (or worse, sparkly)."
Glamour beauty experts say, "I do like loose mineral eye shadows, which I feel like are easier to control-you get beautifully sheer coverage and not as much of a dust issue. Bare Escentuals and Laura Mercier have gorgeous shades."

The Brands

Bare Minerals by Bare Escentuals is the grand dame of mineral makeup. One of the first companies to market mineral makeup back in the 90's, it's known for its sheer, glow-y coverage.
L'Oreal is a well known brand with a full mineral makeup line, including foundations, blushes and bronzers.
Pur Minerals is made with natural moisturizers, like shea butter and vitamin E.
Neutrogena has an antioxidant blend in their mineral makeup to counteract skin- damaging free radicals, like sun and pollution, and keep skin healthy.

The Price

$: L.A. Splash Mineral Makeup is a great affordable mineral makeup option. The main difference is that the minerals may be mixed with more fillers and binders than higher priced options. This is best if you're unsure about mineral makeup and want to give it a test-run.
$$: bareMinerals Multitasking Well-Rested is a fantastic mid-priced mineral makeup option. There's a plethora of choices at this price point, including mineral-rich concealers, lipsticks and bronzers.
$$$: Laura Mercier Mineral Powder is a pricier mineral makeup, but products in this price range usually have more skin-benefitting ingredients, like amino acids that help clear toxins from the skin. Also, the higher price means that the packaging is unique and goes the distance.