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Not all mineral foundations are made equal

Many women are wary of the ingredients in their makeup that they can't pronounce. And many find that fragrances and harsh ingredients can cause breakouts or other negative reactions. These factors make natural and mineral makeup products a popular option. The mineral makeup category as a whole gets some negative press for misleading labels and false claims, but we found that this isn't necessarily true of all mineral foundations. Most are in fact good for skin. They're typically free of common irritants such as fragrances, chemical dyes and parabens. Plus, their ingredient lists are short, making it easy to see exactly what you're putting on your face.

What makes mineral makeup different from other natural makeup is part marketing and part formula. Most natural makeup -- mineral or otherwise -- is made from minerals of some sort, so this isn't a strong differentiator. And just because they're called "minerals" doesn't mean they have to come from the ground -- they can still be formulated in a lab.

Still, makeup that goes by the name "mineral foundation" can be defined as a highly pigmented powder made exclusively from minerals that may or may not be naturally occurring. And since natural liquid and cream foundations require fluids to achieve their consistency, these are not usually considered mineral makeup.

The top-rated mineral foundation today is from the same brand credited with starting the mineral foundation trend decades ago, Bare Escentuals. Thousands of owners swear by bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation (Est. $27) , and it's a beauty editor favorite. Whether it's used for spot coverage or all over, reviewers say it covers blemishes well, yet still looks natural.

Several say the natural formula has helped heal their skin's ailments, like acne or rashes, though it should still be worn with sunblock for added protection. While it works well for nearly all skin types, it can look too shiny on oily skin, reviewers warn. It's worth noting that this foundation also comes in a matte formula, which should solve this problem.

Some users find that the formula can look cakey on them, but others say with more experience applying the foundation, this was no longer an issue. Despite praise for the huge range of shades, beauty expert Paula Begoun warns that the formula can look ashy on darker tones. A handful of users also complain about the powdered formula, saying it's too messy to travel with.

If you're willing to spend nearly double the price of bareMinerals, there is a solution to nearly all the qualms users have about foundation: Jane Iredale Pure Pressed Base Mineral Foundation (Est. $52) . The compact powder isn't as messy and the highly pigmented powder works well even on dark skin tones. Like bareMinerals, it is non-irritating and natural, and it doesn't include one irritation-causing ingredient that bareMinerals contains (bismuth oxychloride).

Jane Iredale is also popular among women with oily skin because it doesn't end up looking shiny or cakey. On the other hand, we found complaints that this foundation can settle in fine lines and dry areas on dryer skin, which reviewers didn't say of bareMinerals. Despite the upsides, Jane Iredale Pure Pressed is not cheap, and reviewers simply don't choose it as often as they do bareMinerals, our best reviewed pick.

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Jane Iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation SPF 20 - Warm Silk - Refill
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $52.00 $27.59   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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bareMinerals ORIGINAL SPF 15 Foundation with Click, Lock, Go Sifter - Fairly Light
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $25.00 $16.93   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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