Mineral makeup is causing my face to itch

Mineral makeup

I never imagined I would suffer from a breakout from using skincare or makeup but yes, it had to happened.  I am suffering from a bout of bad itchy rash on my forehead and under my eye area which is refusing to subside quickly.  After examining my skincare routine and makeup, I believe the culprit to be a matt mineral veil from Ferro Cosmetics that I was using for half a day yesterday.  This is the second time I’ve used the product.  The first time I wore it for a short duration when I was testing the line of makeup and I recalled my forehead being itchy too.

Mineral makeup are not created equal
The reason why I’m so certain it’s that is because I’ve used the radiance foundation under the same brand without any problems so far.  However, their matte mineral veil contains different ingredients not found in their foundation and after narrowing down the list, I’m suspecting it could be either the Boron Nitride or the Magnesium Stearate or even both.

I read up and found from this report that Boron Nitride could cause an itchy rash with repeated or prolonged contact although the amount cited in the report could be more concentrated than what is actually used in mineral makeup formulations.  Magnesium Stearate is also said to cause irritation for those with sensitive skin.  My skin isn’t sensitive at all, but it could be a combination of those ingredients reacting to the heat, my perspiration and possibly my skincare products as well. 

Compilation of ingredients that might cause irritation for some
Anyway, I decided to write this because I realized that while mineral makeup is said to be good for our skin, not all formulations are created equal.  In addition, I’ve not done much reading on the ingredients used in mineral makeup.  Apparently, apart from Bismuth Oxychloride which is widely known to be a skin irritant, there are others as well like these that I came across. 

 Ingredients Description & Irritant Level
Bismuth Oxychloride A by-product of lead refining used to achieve a satin radiance to the skin. Widely known to be a skin irritant, causing many to suffer from burning and breakouts.
Boron Nitride A mineral known for its high adhesion quality and a light texture. Can cause an itchy rash with prolonged usage.
Carmine A dark red pigment made of the crushed shells of cochineal beetles.  Known to cause severe allergic reactions in many.
Chromiums Artificial pigment and the most popular is Chromium Oxide Green in mineral makeup. Known irritant not be used on the lips.
Dimethicone Unmodified silicones which are considered a good protectant but may cause irritation to sensitive skin due to its occlusion nature.
Mica A transparent mineral which is mined from the earth in thin sheets to give powder sparkle and shine. Supposedly low irritation but may aggravate acne and rosacea conditions for some.
Magnesium Stearate This mineral is known for its matte finish appearance and high adhesion quality but has been associated with irritation in some with sensitive skin.
Silica A mineral used to add a silky feel to the product and provide oil control. Not usually listed as an irritant, but has caused breakouts for some.
Talc A non-natural cheap filler used which is overly drying and can cause pores to clog and breakouts for certain skin types.
Ultramarines Pigments from either natural or artificial sources and artificial Ultramarine Blue is commonly used. Known irritant not be used on the lips.
Zea Mays Technical name for corn starch. Very translucent with good absorbency & silky texture used in mineral veil. Has a shelf life and some have experienced irritation using this ingredient.


Skin condition and product formulation make a difference
However, while these ingredients are reported to cause some amount of irritation, how your skin reacts to them really depend on your skin condition and the product formulation.  For example, many ladies have no problems with Bismuth Oxychloride at all.  It should also be noted that mineral makeup companies do not use the same product formulation and even with an ingredient like Mica, the quality used could differ for different brands. 

Choose mineral makeup with a smaller ingredient list
Although I’m certain it’s the matt mineral veil that has caused my itchy rash, I can only suspect the two ingredients to be the cause.  It could possibly be others. 

But as a rule or thumb, I discovered that it’ll be better that we pick mineral makeup with fewer ingredients.  I guess less is really more in this case too.


  1. Barbara says:

    Finding the right makeup is a must. Unfortunately you have to try it out to find out if you are allergic to it or not. Even if it is for sensitive skin it doesn’t mean that one of the ingredients won’t bother your skin.
    Thanks for the info. Barbara
    SoHo Accessories

  2. Tine says:

    Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear about the breakout. I do agree with you, better to use a brand with less ingredients. Too many cooks spoil the soup, and this time, the culprit “cook” is the ingredients! ?

  3. Lia says:

    Lumiere itch me out too! ? luckily i have good luck with Everyday Minerals ? I agree on “the fewer ingredients the better” but well as you and the rest have said, it all boils down to individual skin, i definitely avoid zea mays as that is a known irritant for sensitive/acne skin. hey, hope your skin will be back to normal in no time, take care!

  4. Asianmommy says:

    Oh, that’s a shame that you had a bad reaction. I find that I’m allergic to certain lipsticks. I think it’s the dye. I’ve been using Everyday Minerals, too, and it’s been great so far.

  5. sesame says:

    Thanks Ladies! My face has cleared up, just a bit of redness at some spots. It came as a shock that mineral makeup can break me up as my skin is normally resistant!

    Lia & Asianmommy: Glad that EM worked for both of you. It’s okay for me too!

    Lia: I’ve used zea mays which is in my mineral veil for about a year now without problems actually. But now that I know that it is an irritant, I want to steer clear of that where possible.

  6. printenna says:

    BE Mineral Veil had long been suspected to cause itchiness. I was in MMU in 1999 and BE is the first brand I’ve tried. I personally like Monave the ingredients are simple, however, I had gone off the MMU bandwagon. Just sharing my 2 cents worth.

    printenna: Hi, yes, I’ve read about a lot of breakouts associated with BE. At the same time, some ladies also said they swear by it. So at the end of the day, it really depends on skin type of the individual. I haven’t tried BE myself so I don’t know if it’ll work for me.

  7. Elexis Andres (BareEscentuals Rep.) says:

    Hello Ladies!

    I am a BareEscentuals representative and I, too, am doing some research on Mineral Makeup. Just an FYI for everyone, BE took the cornstarch (zea mays) out of their Mineral Veil because they were aware for the drying effects that caused discomfort. Less ingredients, is definitely more and BE only has 5 minerals of the highest quality comparable to diamonds! It’s the only mineral make up recommended by dermatologists and is the only makeup that has the seal of approval from the Skin Cancer Association. Not all our products are “pure” but you can bet the mineral powder is.

    I, for one, love BareEscentuals and even after my career moves on with or without them I’ll always wear their foundation. It’s cleared up my complexion and feels so light I forget I’m wearing it. It’s got enough coverage that I feel confident wearing it anywhere. I woere it in 117 degree weather in Vegas and took FABULOUS outdoor pictures without beads of sweat all over my face.

    I recommend EVERYONE try this product at least ONCE. It’s worth a try, and you really have nothing to lose!

    – Elexis

    Elexis: Thanks for sharing. I don’t mind giving BE a try although I’ve heard some quite a number of comments about allergy towards bismuth oxychloride.

  8. Suzy Smith says:

    I have extremely sensitive skin and turned to mineral cosmetics after thorough research. DASH Minerals is the purest and the most affordable. I tried other and still broke out and the cause, for me, was the filler Bismuth Oxichloride, which is in several brands of mineral make-up. DASH Minerals doesn’t use any fillers. It provides wonderful coverage and there are lots of colors to choose from. Check out my website and email me if anyone wants to try a sample.

  9. Natalie says:

    I have had the stinging red sunburn dry itchy rash following using Cover Girl Mineral and Bare Escentuals both at different times nd both times with previously normal skin. I’ve never had a rash like this and it began almost the next day after trying each of those products. These rashes lasted for some time after discontinuing the product and cleare up after gentle cleansing and heavy moisturizing. Following research I can only attribute it to the Bismuth Oxycloride that both of these products contain.

    Natalie: That’s nasty. But good thing you realized it and stopped using the products. I’ve never tried anything with Bismuth Oxycloride so I don’t know if I will have flare ups. But I was sensitive to some ingredients from mineral makeup before.

  10. Melanie says:

    I also had a day after reaction to the Cover girl mineral make up. My face is burning and itching like nothing else! even taking a antihistamine didn’t help! Sad cause I loved the coverage!

    Melanie: Oh dear…must be some ingredients that your skin is allergic too.

  11. Justyna says:

    I started using the physicians formula mineral wear talc-free bronzing veil 3 days days ago and 2 days ago I broke out with tiny itchy raised bumps all over my face. My skin just feels so rough. I have never had an allergic reaction before and my skin is not sensitive so I am just shocked. I stopped using the bronzer as of yesterday but the bumps are still there. Has anyone experienced the same thing??

    Justyna: Yes, I can understand how you feel especially since all these mineral MU are supposed to be more natural. I haven’t experienced the same as you cos I’ve not tried this product. But if you’ve stopped using it, your bumps should subside in a couple of days. Mine did. If it still persist, seek medical consultation.

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    I’m really really glad that I’ve found this site!
    Yesterday I went looking for a mineral foundation and thought about buying one from L’Oreal. I always look at the ingredients list, but I couldn’t find one. I really felt cheated. Not even writing the ingredients. SOmething like that shouldn’t even be allowed!

    Anyway, I just can’t decide what to buy for a mineral foundation, because I don’t want to waste any money and I have really really dry and sensitive skin.
    I’m also glad that you listed some ingredients which are bad and harsh on skin, because I didn’t know so before.

    Have you perhaps an idea what I could use as a foundation? It can be loose powder or compact.
    Anything brand is ok. It’s just that I want to ask someone who has more experience than myself.

    Thank you very much!

  13. sesame says:

    If you’re into mineral foundation, I recommend you LA Splash. So far, that’s the one I’ve used for a couple of months and kept me happy. I have a review of it too. https://www.vivawoman.net/2009/06/04/reviewla-splash-mineral-foundation-blush/

  14. Anne-Marie says:

    I’m definetly going to try this out, thank you =)

  15. Jan says:

    I LOVE the coverage that Bare Minerals gave meand I’m sorry to say that I I have to stop using it. The longer I used it, the more my face itched and burned. The foundation dried my face out around and below my nose also.

  16. sesame says:

    The ingredients disagree with your skin…

  17. Leigha says:

    I am so happy that I found this. I have been using Signature Minerals since January, and my face itches badly, when I get hot. I switch over to mineral make up because I have acne, and I thought it would help. Not so much. When I told the gals that the SM made my skin itch, they switched me over to a synthetic. The itching is still there. They said that they had never heard of this kind of itching before. I thought I was alone in this battle. I have taken some notes and I am going to do a little more research to find something that will work for me. Thank you again!!

  18. sesame says:

    Try LA Splash. Their ingredients are minimal and their coverage is quite good.

  19. dior victim says:

    I bought DiorSkin Nude foundation and it made me blot. Then I checked your website. Now I am confused because a couple of ingredients in this product are said to be skin irritative for some people only. I am going to buy a new foundation but I’m not sure which ingredient I’m sensitive of. How can I figure it out?

  20. Sesame says:

    It’s kind of hard to figure cos it also depends on formulation. I suggest you go for those with shorter ingredient list.

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  22. Susan Moore says:

    I have used physicians formula for over a year now…the pressed powder, the blush and the shimmer powder….I recently broke out in this rash under my eyes and eye lids…used the powder for a base for phys formula eyes hummer….my eyes were so bad they felt like they were burning…the rash on my upper cheeks wouldn’t go away…I stopped wearing any makeup and lo and behold it went away. I gradually added one thing back at a time…I started with my portal try match foundation…which I just use around my nose for broken capillaries and bloated lip balm….did this for 3 days with no reaction…I added the physicians formula powder back in for two days…and broke out with two small red patches under my nose….it’s called contact dermatitis….you can use something for as long as a year and it’s such a mild irritant that it can take that long for it to cause these patches …and it will be something that you have applied to that particular area of your face…it’s very frustrating….so I am now going to go another week with just lips balm and foundation and see if i bet any new patches!

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