In the past, face powders contained lethal ingredients. Anything for beauty, right? Have no fear! Modern powders are much kinder to the skin and yield better results too.
History books depict wealthy women and men covering their faces in powder to lighten and even out their complexion. Early face powders contained lethal ingredients such as lead and arsenic. Anything for beauty, right? Have no fear! Modern powders are much kinder to the skin and yield better results too.
Whilst face powder thankfully is no longer an indicator of social class, powder is a great makeup product. Powder keeps makeup in place, reduces shine, and can even add some coverage. So if it isn't lead, what exactly do powders contain to create this flawless finish?
Main ingredients of face powders
Talc is often the main ingredient in face powders, and you'll see it at the top of many ingredients lists. Talc, also known as French chalk, is a naturally occurring mineral that absorbs moisture and oil. It leaves the skin feeling soft and fresh and can help to control shine. Talc also ensures even coverage of tinted powders. It's no real surprise that this ingredient is so heavily used in face powders.
Dimethicone is a silicon-based synthetic ingredient that's commonly used in cosmetics. Known for its smoothing effects and adhesive texture, dimethicone is used in powders to enhance makeup wear and give the skin an airbrushed finish. If you want to go silicone-free, consider Inika Mattifying Setting Powder, which doesn't contain synthetic ingredients and is certified organic.
Tinted powders contain either mineral pigments or organic pigments. Mineral pigments include iron oxides, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and chromium oxide. Organic powders may contain xanthenes, AZO colourants, triarylmethane, and natural colourants.
In the 1920s, it became popular to add heavy fragrances to face powders. However, it was later discovered that perfume can irritate sensitive skin. It's best to stick with unscented powders such as Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder.
Other ingredients found in face powders
Face powders can also be full of nourishing vitamins. BECCA Perfect Skin Mineral Powder contains vitamins A, B, C, and E to nurture and protect the skin.
Other ingredients to look out for include glycerine, which helps preserve moisture within the powder so it doesn't dry out completely. Squalane is a lubricant, often used to give the skin a soft, smooth appearance. Botanical ingredients such as plant oils can be used as colourants or to help moisturise the skin in a natural way.
Whilst you can rest assured that face powders no longer contain lethal ingredients such as lead, it's still important to be able to decipher the ingredients lists, especially if you have sensitive skin. Always opt for certified organic products if you want to avoid synthetics.