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BareEscentuals, Inc. is one of the nation’s best-performing cosmetic companies right now, with sales up to $126.6 in the third fiscal quarter of 2007. Advertising “make-up so pure you can sleep in it,” Bare Escentuals has products like its best-selling Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder ($25, BareEscentuals.com) that uses only “pure minerals and no additives or irritants”. According to its founder, Leslie Blodget, the formulas are designed to be gentle on those with sensitive skin, rosacea, and blemishes, and will help to softly conceal scars, pigmentations, and wrinkles. However, does the Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder live up to the hype? And do products like Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation ($18.00, PamperedPrincessCosmetics.com) deliver more beneficial ingredients, like CoffeeBerry and vitamin C, for less money than Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder?
Is it really “so pure you can sleep in it”?
No. Two of the most concentrated ingredients in both Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder and Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which, according to Paula Begoun, author of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, may clog pores. Therefore, as with any other cosmetic product, it should be removed before going to sleep.
Why are mineral foundations beneficial for the skin?
Unlike other powders, mineral foundations are often free of the preservatives, talc, oil, waxes, fragrances, and other chemicals that can irritate skin and cause breakouts. Mineral foundations also contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as main ingredients, which are effective UVA/UVB physical sunscreens.
Can using Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder improve my skin in the long run?
Only because it is non-irritating compared to many powders. And don’t expect a full SPF of 15: any powder product requires about 14 times the amount of normal powder application to receive the SPF listed on the package, so a powder with an SPF of 15 is really providing an SPF of about 1 with normal use.
According to the BareEscentuals website, Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder reduces skin dehydration by 75%, redness by 31% and overall smoothness, elasticity and texture by 49%. Unfortunately, based on its five ingredients alone, the product does not have long-term benefits beyond sun protection. With that said, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are well-established physical UVA/UVB sunscreens. Although it has been suggested by Warner et. al. that titanium dioxide is damaging to DNA, later studies by Mitchnick et. al. have confirmed that titanium dioxide is too large to enter the skin and is therefore not biologically active enough in the skin to damage DNA.
Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder also contains the pearlescent ingredient bismuth oxychloride as a hydrating agent (hence the reason for the reported decrease in skin dehydration). According to Lynn Starner, the proprietor of Beauty Bliss Mineral Cosmetics, bismuth oxychloride is highly refractive, which will camouflage fine lines, wrinkles and discolorations. Bismuth oxychloride is also the reason for the necessary buffing technique, according to Starner: It has to be forced into the pores, or else it is capable of sliding off the wearer’s face. (More reason to wash your face when wearing it!) Some women have reported itching from bismuth oxychloride after sweating, but most do not experience a problem.
Mica furthers bismuth oxychloride’s reflective ability, as, according to Begoun, it is “an Earth mineral that gives products sparkle and shine.” The last ingredient, iron oxides, are, according again to Begoun, used for coloring.
Can using Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation improve my skin in the long run?
Potentially, yes, due to its inclusion of the super antioxidant coffee berry and vitamin C. According to Nature’s Beauty Minerals creator Annie Langguth, the foundation contains approximately 0.75% coffeeberry extract. A line called Revalé Skin currently features moisturizers using CoffeeBerry 2500 Whole Coffee Fruit Concentrate, while Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation includes equally potent extracts of coffee berry from a source I have been requested not to divulge. Although normal application of powder results in only about 0.085 g of product on the skin, using Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation with free-radical fighting coffee berry is certainly better than using a foundation without it. The product also contains vitamin C as a second potent antioxidant. Because vitamin C is included in a dry form, it should not have the unstable negative properties that have been reported in Clinics in Dermatology.
The product also contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, so it has an unquantified amount of sun protection that is expected to be approximately equal to that in Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder. As an SPF of 15 in powder results in an SPF of about 1 anyway, using a sunscreen with any powder with an SPF is strongly advisable.
Magnesium stearate is used in the product as a binding agent. Unfortunately, magnesium stearate is associated with irritation in some patients with sensitive skin. Fortunately, the product contains allantoin, which soothes irritation. Whether the product would cause you to have irritated skin is similar to whether the Bare Escentuals products with bismuth oxychloride would make you itch after sweating: it varies by person, so there is no universal answer. Fortunately, the Nature’s Beauty Minerals site currently offers samples of the product for $2.50 plus shipping and handling, so that might not be a bad idea if you are considering purchasing the product.
Are mineral foundations better? Which should I choose? Why?
Mineral foundations are a good idea for the skin because they are often free of the preservatives, talc, oil, waxes, fragrances, and other chemicals that can irritate skin and cause breakouts. After seeing Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation with coffee berry and vitamin C, I liked the fact that the product has beneficial antioxidant benefits. Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation‘s product label is also unimpressive, especially when compared to the quality of the product, but for $7 less than the Bare Escentuals product and with two more antioxidants, I’ll take it.
Unfortunately, both Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder and Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation
have one ingredient (bismuth oxychloride and magnesium stearate, respectively) that can potentially be irritating to some individuals. In addition, be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with either product, and, despite the claims, don’t sleep in it, as the two main ingredients in both formulations, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, can clog your pores. Overall, however, a way to get cosmetic benefits without most of the irritating ingredients in other powders!
Product rating for Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder: 9/10 (non-irritating, but has less SPF than on the label, no anti-aging ingredients, and potentially irritating bismuth oxychloride)
Product rating for Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation: 9.5/10 (non-irritating, no SPF on the label [a reminder to wear sunscreen!], two great anti-aging ingredients, but potentially irritating magnesium stearate.)
A special thanks to Annie Langguth for introducing me to Nature’s Beauty Minerals products.
Ingredients in Bare Escentuals SPF 15 Foundation Powder
Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Bismuth Oxychloride, Mica, Iron Oxides
Ingredients in Nature’s Beauty Minerals Mineral Foundation
Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Magnesium Stearate, Iron Oxides, Allantoin, Coffeeberry Extract, Vitamin C