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Roger Weller, geology instructor

Powdered Foundation, and Eye Shadow.
by Mittie Crabtree
Physical Geology
Fall 2011

                                        What’s that on your face?-“Mineral” Make Up.

           Makeup the finishing touch to any fashion statement. Powder or mineral foundation and eye shadow are two of the most popular forms of makeup used daily by women everywhere. Women wear these products without knowing what is in them. Yes there are ingredients on the back of the package which they can read. But a lot of the labels state they are mineral without stating what minerals are in them, so what are really in these makeup products?

            Powder or mineral foundation is said to be healthy for the skin and gives a flawless skin like finish, which is surprising because of what they use to produce the powder that gives the flawless look. The sunscreens in the foundations are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are considered non-toxic and great as use in powder form for sunscreen due to being spread over the skin thoroughly like lotion and much of the time in layers. Then there is bismuth oxychloride which is commonly used in “mineral” foundations due to its thick texture which allows for longer wear and it’s used also for its natural metallic shine. Bismuth does not occur naturally it is made synthetically and has a chemical similarity to arsenic; however, it is not toxic or associated with arsenic by the make-up producers due to its non-toxic nature. Its only downside is how it causes some allergic reactions on skin because of something in the shiny material of its appearance.


Description:   Description: C:\Documents and Settings\Daniel.DANIEL-6CFD1707\My Documents\My Pictures\Phone\IMAG1281.jpg

            Another ingredient in powdered foundations is mica. Mica is a silicate mineral that breaks in flat thin layers and has a natural shine. It comes in many colors and also in colorless form. It is added to the foundation because it is light and has a shiny look. Mica is commonly used to add a sparkly look or shine to many make ups.

Description:  Description:

Photos courtesy of Roger Weller(     copyright 2010-R.Weller)  

            The last ingredient in powdered or mineral foundation is talc. Talc is a metamorphic mineral, usually of white or pink color, that is ground down into a powder form. It is believed that talc is cancer causing and toxic, but according to the article on the cosmetic cops website; there is no definite proof of its harmful affects when used in makeup so it is used as an essential ingredient for many powdered foundations. The main reason for its use in foundations is its fine powder that is soft and leaves a clean feel on the skin unlike most other foundations. Talc is able to make such a fine powder because it is one of the softest minerals around, it is number one on Mohs scale of hardness 10 is the most hard, 1 is the most soft. So out of all the ingredients only the last two mentioned give the foundation the “mineral” part of its description.

Description: Men's Talcum Powder

Eye Shadow:

            What is in eye shadow? Talc is to begin with because of how smooth it glides onto the skin and also because it doesn’t clog the pores. Kaolin is another ingredient in eye shadow. Kaolin or Kaolinite is a clay mineral. Clay?! Why would clay be in eye shadow?

Well according to the paper: “Makeup-A Wealth of Minerals” it is added to makeup to absorb moisture; it covers the skin well, and is resistant to oil. That seems like a good idea due to eyes being naturally moist.


Photo courtesy of Roger Weller

                Another moisture absorbing mineral found in eye shadow is powdered calcite; a calcium carbonate that occurs in dolomite and limestone. It is usually white or gray in color. Calcite is number three on Mohs scale of hardness meaning it is a soft mineral. This is another reason why it is used to make a powdered make up.

            Once again mica is used in a make up to add shine. It is commonly found in eye shadows that have a glittery look to them. Glitter, however, is not what is mainly looked for in an eye shadow color is. Blue, green, red, yellow, and pink are all shades of color seen in eye shadows. But what makes these colors possible in makeup?

-Red: Iron oxides or hematite are used in eye shadows to make the red and yellow color shades. Iron oxide is literally oxidized iron also known as wustite (mineral name). Hematite is also an iron oxide its crystal form is gray in color but when in earth it is red. It is known for its reddish brown streak so are iron oxides. Due to its natural beauty it has become very popular in the production of mineral make ups such as eye shadow.


Photo by Roger Weller

-Green: Chromium oxides are used to make green colored eye shadows. According to the natural pigments website chromium was first found in 1797 in lead chromate. Despite its origins chromium oxide does not cause serious health hazards even though, like bismuth oxychloride, it can cause allergic skin reactions and irritation in the eyes.

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-Blue: Blue eye shadow is made by adding ground Lapis Lazulli to the makeup. Lapis lazuli or lazurite is a deep blue stone. According to the international colored gemstone association website lapis lazuli is one of the first gemstones worn and worked on. It was popular in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Roman societies. Not only is it used in makeup but it is also used in art work because of its beautiful blue color.

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Photo courtesy of Roger Weller

-Pink: Pink coloring (according to “Makeup-A Wealth of Minerals”) is made by mixing kaolin, soda ash (sodium carbonate), sulfur (a moderately toxic volcanic rock), and charcoal (carbon). Kaolin as we all know is clay. Soda ash is a product used in washing soda and in the production of glass! Apparently it also helps make a pretty pink color. Sulfur is commonly known as a yellow volcanic rock that happens to be toxic and flammable. Charcoal is what is used as a source of fuel and also to cook with because it heats more than wood.

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Photo of sulfur from Roger Wellers’ photos.

 . To make these colors brighter titanium dioxide (natural sun block) is added to them. Amazing to see all the minerals in eye shadow and powdered (mineral) foundation isn’t it. Mineral makeup is an interesting thing mainly because of how little mineral is in the makeup. However, the small amount of minerals that are added to the makeup makes it more special because it makes true the words “natural beauty”.

Works Cited

-Titanium dioxide info Nov 13,2011. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Daniel.DANIEL-6CFD1707/My%20Documents/natural%20organic%20make-up%20-%20Titanium%20Dioxide%20%20Toxic%20or%20Safe%20.htm

-zinc oxide info nov 13,2011. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Daniel.DANIEL-6CFD1707/My%20Documents/Zinc%20Oxide%20Sunscreen%20&%20Nanoparticles%20Information%20by%20Badger.htm

-Iron oxides info nov 14,2011. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Daniel.DANIEL-6CFD1707/My%20Documents/Iron%20Oxides%20many%20Colors.htm

-Iron oxides info nov 15, 2011.

-Chromium oxide green info nov 14,2011. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Daniel.DANIEL-6CFD1707/My%20Documents/Chromium%20Oxide%20Green%20(100%20g).htm

-Mineral foundations info nov 12,2011.

-Eye shadow info nov 13, 2011.

-Bismuth oxychloride nov 12,2011.

-Bismuth allergic reaction nov 15,2011.,r:14,s:0

-Photo of foundation, taken by me at walmart. Nov 9,2011.

-Photo of talc in powder form, nov 15,2011.

-Photo with green eye shadow taken by me on Nov 9,2011.

-Lapis Lazuli info nov 15,2011.

-Soda ash info nov 15,2011.

-Charcoal nov 15,2011.