Is mineral makeup too drying?

Mineral Makeup Ingredients

Some time ago, a friend mentioned to me that her aesthetician told her that mineral makeup is too drying for our skin. I was pretty curious and I wanted to know why but I could not establish the reasons immediately. Then recently, when I started using my UV Natural Sunscreen, I noticed that my skin feels somewhat drier after a few hours and I got curious. Is it because of the 24.8% Zinc Oxide?  If that is the case, could it be the cause for mineral makeup to be too drying as well then?

Zinc Oxide is a drying agent
Zinc Oxide is widely known not only for UV protection but also as an ingredient in drying up rashes like diaper rash, eczema, and dermatitis.  I even read that it also does very well drying up chicken pox.  In fact, according to this source I came across, if you have very dry skin, Zinc Oxide may not be suitable as it can make your skin feel drier.  Also, experiments with Zinc Oxide presented in Skin Research and Technology demonstrated that this mineral has a drying and peeling effect on the skin according to Portland-Oregon Magazine.

Other drying agents found as mineral makeup ingredients
The same article in Portland-Oregon Magazine also cited Titanium Dioxide as a drying agent and I found out that Iron Oxide is also classified as such.  Now, mineral makeup foundation as we know, tend to contain Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide with rather high concentration in some formulations.   Most of the time, I also see Iron Oxide as a key ingredient.  Added to the list in some formulations is the mineral makeup powder Kaolin, which is a natural clay that absorbs unwanted oils and other impurities from skin.  Although Kaolin is pretty mild but it can also contribute to the dehydrating effect. 

Cosmetic Corp’s view that mineral makeup exacerbate dryness
No wonder Paula Begoun of Cosmetic Corp mentioned that the properties of mineral makeup powder are absorbent and hence, exacerbate dryness and flaking in her online article Pore Perfect or Poor Performer.

Dryness causing those with oily skin to secrete more oil
I also suspect that all these drying agents are causing those with oily skin to experience even more oiliness because one of the key traits of this skin type is when the skin becomes dry, it tends to secrete more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture.

Mineral makeup is better for those with normal skin
If this is true then Paula Begoun is right in saying that “mineral makeup is best for normal to slightly oily skin (meaning no signs of dryness and little to no problem oily areas).”

Some formulations causing my skin to be oilier by the day
I have been using mineral makeup consistently over a year now and generally, it has been fine for me.  However, in some formulations, I did discover that my skin becomes oilier as the day progresses.  And with the Mica present in some of these formulations, it makes my face look rather shiny.   Again, I like to qualify that not all mineral makeup are formulated similarly and hence, the end results could be vastly different.

What are your views?
I’m keen to know your views if you’ve been using mineral makeup rather consistently.  Do you agree with Paula Begoun that it causes dryness and is better for those with normal skin?  Or do you think there is a way to get around the problem of drying such as using more moisturizer for example?  Or choosing a formulation that contains more emollient properties like Allantoin?


  1. Zoe says:

    I have sensitised, oily, congested skin, and have tried many different mineral foundations. And ALL of them made my skin both oilier AND drier at the same time! My skin developed a lot of surface dryness, became more congested, and secreted way more oil than it normally would. So yes, I would have to agree that mineral makeup is drying and can cause oily skins to produce more oil! My regular liquid foundation is far better for my skin than any mineral makeup. Which is a shame, because I really would like for mineral makeup to work for me.

    Zoe: I agree…that it’s a shame because I would love to use MMU long term too. However, I’m still looking for the one that gives me the best coverage and works well for my skin. Right now, I alternate but I really don’t like to use the conventional compact powder that much.

  2. Nikki says:

    I haven’t really used MMU for a long time, but yeah, you’re right, it is drying on me, and good thing I usually order samples! So I actually don’t use it anymore if it cause dryness, there are one in a million mmu foundation that doesn’t dry my skin and I’m still using it and will probably let you know how it goes ? thanks for this wonderful article

    Nikki: One thing I found is sometimes, it takes awhile to find out. I’ve used some MMU without problems initially but a couple of months down the road, my face gets oilier.

  3. Leon says:

    I have normal to dry skin and mineral maek-up really dries out my skin. I don’t use make-up on a regular basis but I am looking for a good liquid foundation for my skin type.Would love to get some recommendation from you Sesame.Do you think Lavera’s Trend range is good?

    Leon: I haven’t tried Lavera Trend’s range to be able to comment. In fact, I don’t use liquid foundation because I have combinatioin skin and is really not in a good position to recommend anything suitable. I went to MakeupAlley but couldn’t find any reviews on Lavera Trend’s foundation though. Did you try posting the question in your forum?

  4. Saryn says:

    When I use it during the summer, it is just perfect as I have normal to slightly oily skin. However, during the winter months, it is not suitable at all as I can see flaky dry skin after a few minutes of application.
    I guess that that could be true!

    Saryn: Very interesting! Winter is definitely drier and your skin condition would be different as a result – so it wouldn’t be normal to slightly oily then. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! ?

  5. ling says:

    hi babe, i’ve been reading your beauty blog with interest! love the posts…
    i’m not sure if you know this… but MAYBELLINE’s mineral makeup range – PURE MINERAL has come to Singapore!

    it is highly raved in the US, and i read in the forums that some gals are waiting for it to come to Singapore.

    what do you think of it?
    hope to hear some reviews about it…

    and there is an event hosted by Maybelline which allows 15 gals to try the mineral makeup, get a mini makeover and a photo to bring home.

    The event is on Friday 9th Jan from 7.30 to 9.30pm.

    perfect if you are hitting the clubs to party afterwards! free makeover! look pretty!

    all we need to do is join their groups on Facebook & Friendster, leave a comment (any comment i think) on the wall and you’ll stand a chance!

    …for Singapore only though : (

    the groups’ addresses are –

    Maybelline & Me Facebook:

    Maybelline & Me Friendster:

    Ling: Thanks for keeping me posted about this! I’ve been keen to find out the ingredients but I didn’t see it on the website. Actually I wrote something about this a couple of weeks ago and I found out that it has garnered some fair reviews at Makeupalley – 3.3 out of 5 from 147 reviewers. I haven’t checked if there is an update though. Okay, I’ll look this up the stores. Thanks again! ?

  6. Leon says:

    Oh thats so sweet of you to do a search for me dear:) Thanks for a good suggestion, I’ll post it in ym forum. Gosh, I completely forgot about Glowing Diva.

    Leon: Some of the girls might have good suggestions! ?

  7. Leon says:

    I just posted it in the forum, hope someone replies:)

    Leon: It’s the holiday season, so perhaps it’ll also take awhile…

  8. Sarah says:

    You are right on about the ingredients that absorb oil. So, I guess it depends on the percents they use in the formula, which of course they don’t publish. I use a formula that has no titanium dioxide, zinc or kaolin in the winter. It’s called NoHoGlo and it’s made by LA Minerals. Doesn’t dry me out at all. It’s kinda light coverage, guess cuz there’s no zinc or titanium, but enough for me and I need the Glow in the winter time! LOL

    Sarah: Oh, I didn’t know there are formulas that contains no titanium dioxide and/or zinc. Usually, I see at least one. I’ll have a look at this brand you mentioned. It looks very interesting!

  9. Robyn @ PurelyCosmetics says:

    I’ve got extremely dry skin, and can wear mineral makeup all year long. For those with really dry skin, try mixing the foundation with a drop or two of your moisturizer in the palm of your hand, then apply.

    Look for ingredients such as silk powder, which will hydrate your skin and simultaneously absorb excess oils, and who’s properties change with tempurature and humidity. If your skin is dry, you want to avoid products with a high silica, kaolin clay, or bentonite clay contents. Mica coated in carnauba wax is also a good ingredient for dry skin. After I’ve applied my foundation, I lightly spray my face with an Evian atomizer, then do a final pass buffing afterwards to meld the ingredients with my skin.

    Oily skin can be helped also with products that contain jojoba oil along with clays or silica, as jojoba mimicks the skin’s sebum and prevents it from producing even more oil.

    Allantoin is a wonderful ingredient, but it’s main purpose is to stimulate new cell growth rather than moisturize. It’s benificial for any skin type.

    Hope this helps.

    Robyn: Thanks a lot for the information, especially about silk powder! I’ve also read about mixing the moisturizer with the powder but somehow am not comfortable doing this. I guess if we moisturize enough, that should help as well isn’t it? Anyway, your inputs are very useful! ?

  10. Peggy Gorman says:

    I use mineral makeup but one thing I always do is put on a good moisturizer on first,now I am glad I did. Thanks for the info

    Peggy: That’s great for you! ?

  11. flym says:

    I’ve had mostly positive experience with MMU. My combi skin seems ok with it. MMU definitely wears better on my skin than compact foundation. The latter requires more touch-ups.

    Flym: That’s good! I have mostly good experience except for a few. But as a whole, while I like it, mineral makeup make my face look shinier. Not good for photographs…

  12. Cyndi says:

    My skin is rather dry but acne prone at the same time, but MMU works really well for me. To a certain extend, it helps to regain my smooth skin again. I love MMU lol =) I didn’t experience any dryness or flakiness caused by MMU and thank God for that.

    Cyndi: That’s good for you! I guess it all depends on the formulation as I wrote. Like I didn’t have similar experience with all the brands I’ve tried – some made my skin more oily, others broke me out, but there are those who were just right too.

  13. Tine says:

    This worked well for me till it didn’t. Still, when it did work, it didn’t give me that flawless look that liquid foundation would, but it did cover the lines quite nicely.

    However, when I tried it out on my mother, it ascentuated the fine lines on her forehead and wrinkles. You’re right, it’s not for dry skin.

    Tine: Come to think about it, my mum didn’t like it too.

  14. May Belle says:

    Hi my dear, I read your post on Maybelline Pure Mineral, and your interest above in the product.
    May I invite you to the event this Fri so you can come and try for yourself the mineral makeup range?

    Maybelline has some makeup artists and hairstylists at the event to make sure you look pretty at the end of the party!
    You will also receive a free goodie bag, and a photo of yourself.

    Please let me know your availability.
    Email me!
    Look forward to seeing you at the party!


    May Belle: Thanks! I’ve check out the event and attend if I can. Not sure if time is permissible though.

  15. May Belle says:

    Hi babe,

    as the event is exclusive and only limited spaces of 15, I really hope you can make it.

    This is a special invitation to you.
    Please let me know if you can come.
    Thank you!

    MB: Thanks! I would love to but the timing is not right for me…

  16. May Belle says:

    allrite babe no problem!
    i would love to have you at the party for a pampering and fun time but since you cannot make it, can i send you the products instead for your trial?

    please email me at your mailing address and i will courier the products to you.

    look forward to hearing from you.

    MB: Thanks. I’ve sent you an email to explain.

  17. meryl says:

    Has anyone tried Christopher DRummond Beauty products? it is a powder foundation, but it does not have the Titanium, bismuth or zinc….it’s supposed to be a hydrating powder….

    meryl: Never heard of that one…

  18. Sheree says:

    I have pretty dry skin, especially above my eye brows and around my nose. I use lotion every morning after a shower which cures it for the day. However now that it’s winter, I noticed that if I don’t exfoliate my face with a good loofah every day that when I use my mineral make up it looks like I have flaky skin. So as a tip for those with dry skin, try exfoliating your skin every shower and try not to use too much of the drying face washes, AND use face lotion not too long after a shower. It really helps. ?

    Sheree: Thanks for the tip! Using lotion right after a shower is good because it seals in the moisture and keeps the skin better hydrated.

  19. lim says:

    Depending on the time of year, I either have fairly dry or oily skin. I’ve been using EverydayMinerals for almost a year and have no complaints. Their foundations contain only mica, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and iron oxide. I think what I love most is that you can choose between Original Glo (dry skin), Semi-Matte (normal to combination), Matte (normal to oily) and Intensive (all skin types).

    Lim: Their Intensive formula works on me. But my favorite item from them has to be their multi-tasking concealer!

  20. fwy says:

    True. I think I’ll only use mineral lipstick & lipgloss.

  21. Sterling Minerals says:

    After reading your article you pose some excellent questions. Zinc Oxide is used to reduce inflammation of skin and has gentle astringent properties giving a toning effect to the skin. And I am glad you noted that depending on ratios and formulations this problem does not occur across the board with all mineral makeup. With the use of Rice Powder which is known to retain moisture against the skin as does methicone, the prevention of trans epidermal moisture loss is excellent. Plus we incorporate Jojoba Oil which not only treats the all skin types for what ails them but assists with melding of the minerals and also prevents moisture loss from the skin. Titanium and Zinc in high ratios as in the case of 3-4 ingredient products is a huge contributing factor to a product causing excessive dryness.

    Although Paula Begoun has offered some wonderful advice as a watchdog for the consumer, I also find some of her explanations suspect and I am always wary seeking out more scientific data than what she may report as she too offers her own line of products

    Next month I am launching a new skin care line which will offer excellent results for womens skin and be a perfect compliment to women who enjoy wearing mineral cosmetics. The results in testing have been excellent with the different skin types we have challenged including those with very dry skin exhibiting great results.

    Thanks again for this article.

  22. Rachel says:

    I was wondering if anyone has tried Susan Posnick’s Colorflo MMU and if so, what was their experience with it? Does anyone know the ingredients or composition of it? Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

    Rachel: Never tried this. First time learning about the product. Why don’t you write to them to ask about their ingredients? I had a quick look at their website but didn’t see the list.

  23. yiting says:

    i have came across a MUA’s blog article about mineral makeup and he strongly recommends that the skin should be well moisturized before applying mineral makeup…

    yiting: I think he’s right.

  24. Jan says:

    If you want to use mineral makeup (I only use it-liquid now feels like tar!) try Jafra mineral makeup – but first moisterize…always! Jafra has Royal Jelly skin cream that heals the skin from the inside out and makes your skin a palate for make up. I have normal to dry skin and have had no problems at all, but I use the Royal Jelly cream first and a daily moisterizer. They also have a makeup primer.

    Jan: Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll look the brand up the next time I’m looking for a mineral makeup/

  25. C. Drummond says:

    I worked for Bare Minerals for 5 years, and I can’t tell you how many women complained that it dried their skin out. So, I decided to create a line of powder foundation that actually helps hold moisture into the skin.

    It’s very true that the two main ingredients in MM absorb oil, so it definitely not good for dry skin!!!!

  26. Di says:

    I was researching the effect of zinc oxide and chanced upon your article.
    I have been using the MVO kid safe sunscreen and have been wondering why my skin was dry and peeling. Guess now I know I can’t use it further since the high zinc oxide content is probably drying out my skin…sad! And I hope it’s the only reason my skin was drying out badly!

  27. sesame says:

    You can try to use under some oil if possible or over another moisturizer. Zinc oxide can be drying and can for some pple, cause breakout even. I found the Kidsafe one drier for me too.

  28. Vivi says:

    Hi Sesame,

    I’ve been using MV Moisturizing Face Screen under MV Anti Aging Oil+, but I feel my skin is getting more dehydrated :(.
    I guess I need to avoid using physical sunscreen.

    Can you recommend any good chemical sunscreen? Thanks!

  29. sesame says:

    Chemical sunscreen – try those from Kiehl’s or Clarins has a new one but it has titanium dioxide. I usually go for La Roche Posay. But all of them has got alcohol and can also be drying.

  30. Vivi says:

    Thanks Sesame. Do you think Kiehl’s or LRP sunscreen offer a better protection?

  31. sesame says:

    In terms of ingredients, they seem on par as both use Mexoryl but Kiehl’s might be less greasy – depends on which LRP sunscreen you choose cos they have a number of different products.

  32. Saj says:

    This is such an interesting article! I agree, I find mineral makeup does not appeal to already dry skin! I find it merely highlights my already dry areas instead of enhancing my features. I think Benefit face powders work a treat for my skin, they add a subtle lovely coverage without illuminating any red, dry sensitive areas. I haven’t yet found any coverage that suits very sensitive or dry skin.

  33. Swati says:

    I did use a compact from Face Canada and it has mica and corn starch and Titanium Dioxide and I found it drying for the skin!!! want to search a brand which isn’t drying…heard Mary Kay and Fairie Organics are not too drying for skin. May be MAC would also prove good!!!

  34. sesame says:

    I tried LA Splash (from US). They’re pretty good too and I didn’t find them drying for my skin.

  35. lemon says:

    I’ve been using different mineral powder/liquid foundations for maybe 8 years, and the overall look was always caky, drying and accentuated flakes even during my good skin days. I only stayed with it because it has heavy coverage and I kept thinking it would eventually improve my skin. My skin is fine after serums, facial oils and moisturizers. Once I wear mineral foundations, it feels as though all the moisture and oils are being sucked out of my already dehydrated skin. I’m finally fed up and after reading your post, I’m switching to a liquid foundation that doesn’t have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I’ve used mineral foundations with silk powder and allantoin..and I’m still super dry. I’m an idiot for ordering more mineral makeup and finishing powders recently..hahaha. It’s sad that I want to use mostly natural products, but my sister is raving over Nars Sheer Glow foundation. Thanks for writing this up…it explains why I never get a satisfying look with mineral foundation.

  36. sesame says:

    Yeah, I think mineral makeup is not for all even though it’s supposedly more natural. I’ve had good results with some, which adds moisturizing ingredients but with others, I’ve even had allergies.

  37. nahsiep says:

    Hi Sesame

    I’ve tried Bare Minerals powder once a few years ago while travelling in France in winter. It dried my skin out so much and became really cakey after a few hours that I threw the newly-bought product away! I decided to give it a try again this year and bought the new translucent powder compact from Sephora. This time round, I tried the powder in humid Singapore weather. The powder still dried out my cheeks making them look stiff and ‘dead’ and the skin around my laugh lines got so cakey I thought I was growing cobwebs there!

    I am looking for natural/organic loose/compact powders as I’m almost 3 months pregnant now and am trying to go all natural. I only know of mineral powders as being chemical-free. Do you have any other recommendations of good natural/organic powders?

  38. Sesame says:

    Would you like to try custom blend mineral powder. I tried this and it’s by far the best. You can actually tell them you need more moisture for your skin and they’ll add the right ingredients.

  39. Mia says:

    For me it causes extreme dryness and skin shedding. My skin would constantly be flaky and irritated.
    Only when I stopped I noticed how healthy my skin can look.
    I stopped using moisturizer and make up. Instead I am using sesame oil.
    I have acne but my skin looks so much better and does not get oily at all.
    Too bad there is no healthy way of covering my hormonal acne though.

  40. Sesame says:

    I guess the ingredients in some mineral makeup can be too drying.

  41. Tamera says:

    Hey vesry nice blog!

    Ð…top by mmy page … no2 maximus review (Tamera)
    Tamera last post is: Tamera

Leave a Reply