Being a girl, the fact that I thoroughly enjoy wearing makeup should not come as a shock.
Yes, on the surface it’s a frivolous thing to do, and I’m sure there’s many deep-seated reasons for wearing makeup and feeling the need to “put on my face”.
But I do have a conscience, and I try my utmost to use makeup that’s as ethical and cruelty-free as possible. And believe me, its not actually that easy.
Over the years I’ve accumulated a fair amount of knowledge about the clever and sometimes downright deceitful ways that companies will promote their products. Cosmetics in particular seem to have their own special language. Here’s an example – featuring the word ‘naturally’ doesn’t always mean the product is natural. Dermatologically tested doesn’t necessary mean not tested on animals or suitable for sensitive skin. ‘Improved’, ‘can’, and ‘help’ are all loaded words. Essentially they mean that there are no guarantees that their revitalizing, neuro-cosmetic, bio-stimulated products will actually work.
So when I discovered mineral makeup a few years ago, I thought I’d finally managed to find a cosmetic product that checked off all my ‘green’ and ‘ethical’ boxes. It seemed simple and honest – mineral, natural, and no need for animal testing. OK, great! Many companies and small-scale businesses selling mineral makeup have made many claims along the lines of it being a natural, cruelty-free product that’s good for your skin. OK, great. A quick look at the simple and straightforward ingredients list of products from many a domestic-scale business seems to back up all the claims. No parabens, no cheap fillers, and no ‘use by’ dates to worry about. In fact, I got so interested in mineral makeup that I thought about setting up my own little home business. And that’s when I started to notice many of the marketing myths that surround this apparently natural wonder product.
Before I make my main point please don’t get me wrong here – this isn’t a post that’s setting out to criticize mineral makeup in its entirety. Compared to ‘standard’ makeup, it’s actually very good, and it tends to be the smaller companies and individuals that make their own mineral makeup from scratch that provide the ‘best’ quality products. Mineral makeup is inorganic, which means it doesn’t need any preservatives to stop it from going off. And no preservatives means no parabens, a range of ingredients used in many creams, lotions and potions but also linked to tumors and cancers. It also often contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or sometimes both); zinc oxide can help to calm inflamed skin whereas titanium dioxide has a natural SPF. Again, great.
I think my main point of contention with mineral makeup marketing lies mostly with the big multinational businesses. It just seemed that as soon as they got in on the act, the labeling on mineral makeup became, to my mind at least, misleading. For instance, there are some mineral makeup brands out there that claim to be 100% pure and natural. Mineral makeup is not what I’d describe as pure or natural. It contains naturally derived minerals that go through a fairly rigorous refining process before they’re safe and ready to use.
Many of these minerals are refined in large, (and probably) polluting factories that – I imagine – use copious amounts of water to undertake the wet-grinding process necessary to produce the mineral powder. It’s probably the same for the pigments used in mineral makeup too. ‘Natural’ is a word that carries a lot of weight. It evokes thoughts of products that are environmentally sustainable, gentle and unrefined, straight from the earth and in harmony with nature. And the companies know this and despite the reality of the situation, it really irks me that they continue to market the products as such.
I also take issue with the fact that the bigger companies, such as L’Oreal and MaxFactor, have rammed their ‘pure’ ‘natural’ mineral makeup products with cheap fillers like Talc and Bismuth Oxychloride. OK, they’re minerals too, but it’s widely known in the mineral makeup industry that these lower grade fillers possess are also probably the most likely to cause skin irritation. Yes, I understand that big companies want to turn big profit, but it’s almost as if they’re jumping on the ethical/eco/natural skincare bandwagon and formulating products with the bare minimum of a quality ingredients. I feel like they’re hoodwinking those not in the know with clever marketing tricks and evocative commercials. And they’re getting away with it.
written by Lucy Debenham
© 2009 – 2010, Daniel Dessinger. All rights reserved.