Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mineral madness

I was shopping at the mall, when I discovered a kiosk for BellaPierre mineral cosmetics. A young man called out to women asking if they would like makeovers. Most shook their heads and walked on. As editor of The Style Page who's always on the lookout for a story, I chose to stop.

Promotional material from BellaPierre
scanned by The Style Page

The young man showed me stacks of mineral powders (Pure Colors and True Colors also sell these stacks) and how one could use them for eye shadow, eye liner, lip color, and even nail color, with the help of mixing products such as eye shadow base, lip gloss, and clear nail polish.

Bare Escentuals is the leader in loose mineral powder cosmetics. How could BellaPierre distinguish itself from Bare Escentuals? For one thing, Bellapierre's powder foundation doesn't contain bismuth oxychloride, which the young man described as irrtating. Is this true? Check out Paula Begoun's Special Report on Mineral Makeup, which states:

bismuth oxychloride can cause slight skin irritation (Source: Although talc has the same potential for slight irritation, bismuth oxychloride is more likely to cause an allergic contact dermatitis due to its pearlescent nature (Source: This is more of a concern when bismuth oxychloride is the main ingredient in a cosmetic, as it is for many mineral makeups.

So maybe there's something to BellaPierre's claims, but it seems that its claims are overwrought. I noticed some irritation on my eyelid soon after using BellaPierre's shimmering mica powders, and wondered if it had to do with the mica particles, but the irritation went away in a day, after I had cleaned all my eyeshadow brushes and applied a little opthalmic ointment to my lid.

Bare Escentuals has associated "mineral" with "pure," and it's something that other cosmetics companies have picked up on to market their products. The term "mineral" had referred to loose powders, but now it's being associated with products such as lipstick, liquid foundation, and pressed powders that contain other ingredients in addition to minerals. Thus, all cosmetics can be considered mineral cosmetics! Be critical, and recognize that "mineral" is just another marketing construct.

I walked away from the BellaPierre kiosk with a stack of 9 shimmering powders - 3 pinky browns of different intensities (great for eye shadow), 1 dark brown, 1 coppery shade, 1 gold, 1 red (great for lip color), 1 white, and 1 black - and two itty-bitty cubes of lip gloss and eye shadow base. The young man claimed that I was getting an additional 5 for the cost of 4, but I attributed that to bogus discounting of already overpriced products. Sixty dollars for 4 tiny cubes of color would be obscene, but sixty dollars for nine at least makes it comparable to the price of $55 that True Colors and Pure Colors charge for a stack of eight. I'm having fun playing with the loose powders, which can be very soft.

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