Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mineral make-up - Introduction, part 1

To those of you who followed a link from Tutorializer or another blog to get here, welcome! This is only the first post on mineral make-up - I think there's something like 92 posts on the topic on the blog (click here to see them) with many ideas for various things like eye shadow, foundation, and so on. I encourage you to read other posts on the topic to learn how to make the shade you've always wanted - I am kinda partial to lime green and yellow and these neutrals really don't represent the full rainbow of possibilities! 

Or read this section. I'm sorry, but I really don't have time to answer questions I've answered before or those for which I have entire posts. This is meant as an introductory page - you really need to take a look at the other pages if you're eager to make products. 

So what's mineral make up and how do I make it? Whoa, slow down there just a little bit - 2 questions is a lot for first thing in the morning!

Mineral make up is generally defined as make up made from minerals. A colourless base is created using various ingredients, then you add iron oxides and micas to create a colour.

How do you make it? Well, that's really a question that starts off what could be a million part series for this blog...

First, we're going to call it MMU from now on because that's easier to type. Secondly, I find it is easier to understand something and make it your own when you know why you are doing what you are let's start with ingredients.

When you go hunting for MMU recipes, you're going to find a ton of various ingredients, all of which seem awesome and essential and wonderful. Some of them are essential and some of them are merely ones favoured by the company that published the recipe. So how do you figure out what you need, what you don't need, and what you can substitute for something else?

Concept: You could just mix the micas and iron oxides and slather them on your face, but you want them to stay there so you don't walk around with crazy clown face, frightening the children, who then run past your house screaming "crazy clown lady" on Hallowe'en. So you're left with all that candy, which you eat, because you are depressed at being the person on the block the children avoid. And your skin breaks out, so you put on more foundation, which morphs in colour, so you become the "zombie lady" and everyone avoids you because they think you want to eat their brains, but you don't, because you really just want another Mars bar. Then you have to move and you end up moving beside a really crazy cat lady and she makes your life miserable because she has so many cats and the smell is annoying and they keep you up with their incessant meowing and you don't get enough sleep, then you fall down a flight of stairs on a BC ferry because you're tired, but this time you don't end up with a hematoma on your bum, you end up breaking your neck and dying. All because you didn't want to use a base! Think about it, won't you?

And you need them to stay there when your skin gets oily or when you get rained on. And we don't want the colour to change - as it can when you don't compensate for the oily skin factor. So we include ingredients for that reason.


4 tsp serecite mica
1 tsp titanium dioxide (I use oil soluble)
1 tsp dry-flo

Put the ingredients into a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet and grind for quite some time -- at least 2 or 3 minutes. Now put into a container to be used as your base. (Feel free to increase the amounts by the same ratios -- I generally make up 8 tsp serecite mica, 2 tsp titanium dioxide, and 2 tsp dry-flo so I have a ton around!) An eye shadow container takes about 7/8 tsp.

Why these ingredients? What does each one bring to the party?


For mineral make-up, you want coverage -- this is usually defined as light, medium, or full coverage. This means how well it covers up your own skin colour. For eye shadows, coverage is a good thing because you want your colours to pop!

The opposite of coverage is translucency. You may want to include ingredients that aren't apparent once they are on your face. These ingredients are used for things like mineral veils or glitter powders (you don't want something white on your skin, just glittery) or sheer eye shadows and blushes.

Finally, you want slip. Slip is how well the product goes on your skin, how well it "slips" and doesn't drag. So we include ingredients that make application nice and smooth.


Serecite mica gives you the coverage. It offers medium coverage and adds a slight shine, which is good for an eye shadow. It's sheer and allows the minerals to stay on your face. It keeps your colour true during the day and can repel water.

Titanium dioxide gives you heavy coverage. It is opaque and can whiten your colours. It's also a great adhesion ingredient.

Dry-flo is modified corn starch. I find it gives the eye shadow a nice slip when applying and it's translucent when applied.

So what we have in this recipe are ingredients to:
1. offer slip;
2. create coverage - medium and full;
3. repel water;
4. keep your colours true; and
5. adhere to your skin.


When you are substituting, it isn't necessary a 1:1 ratio of substitution. For instance, you can substitute zinc oxide for the titanium dioxide in this recipe at the same amount, but substituting the dry-flo might take more. This really is an art in getting the right feel and staying power. So try some things and see if you like it!

Titanium dioxide -- Get yourself some titanium dioxide. It's pretty essential to most MMU recipes. You could substitute zinc oxide for this ingredient. This is available at pretty much all soap suppliers. It's cheap and it's easy to find.

Serecite mica -- You can use micronospheres, which are lovely, but I really do encourage you to get the serecite mica. You can get it at Voyageur or Suds & Scent (links on the right hand side of the page) and you can get micronospheres at Voyageur (as well as other MMU suppliers - this is just my favourite!). What do the micronospheres do? They offer slip, adhesion, water repellation (is that a word?), and adheres to your skin. So they do what the serecite mica does with a little less shine. This might be what you try it if you like!

Dry-Flo: Leave it out if you want, or substitute some rice powder, kaolin clay, corn starch, or silk. We want something translucent that offers slip. You can go hog wild and substitute all the Dry-Flo with silk, but this gets expensive.

You've got your base and you love it. Make a ton of will need it. You want to play and try new colours, and it is annoying to have to stop and make another batch of it in the middle of your colour extravaganza.

TOMORROW'S TUTORIAL -- How to make a basic eye shadow! Get out those micas and iron oxides because it's an eye shadow extravaganza!


Caroline Alexander said...

This is really cool! I only use mineral make up, it looks pretty simple. Thanks for sharing

Jewels of Saraswati said...

Wow. Pretty awesome how much goes into making this!

Anonymous said...

swift thank you for the wonderful information. I am ordering the kit from TKBtrading that was recommended on dish forum. I have read a lot of posts, but said nothing as I am so new to all but soap and not very long at that. Your blog is exceptional for knowlege. I am not exp4rienced at blogs so how do I access part 2-9. I found 10,11 and 1. Help and thank you. My 80 year old eyes thank you.
Grandma Alice

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Grandma Alice! If you want to see all the posts, click here for every mineral make-up post I've written thus far (I think there's 72!)

Or you can access them individually....
Part 2: Creating your first eye shadow
Part 3: Metallics and sheens
Part 4: Why black is your friend!
Part 5: From black to grey
Part 6: Pink
Not a part, but an aside (supplies)
Part 7: Purple with ultramarine purple.
Part 8: Purple with manganese violet
Part 9: Blue sheens

Have fun! TKB Trading's kit is awesome, and they have some great recipes on their site.

Anonymous said...

How natural are these ingredients? I'm not big on chemicals. Thanks

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Welcome to the blog! Everything is made of chemicals - it just means something made of elements, which means everything on earth! - so I can't really answer your question. I think you mean to ask if these things are natural. Yes, they are natural for the most part. They aren't organic - they can't be as most of them are minerals, and minerals are considered inorganic.

If you want to comment again, please sign off with your name as we don't really like anonymous posts around here. It seems to encourage people to be a little meaner than they would normally be.

Pats1013 said...

I have a question on the comment above about the Natural chemicals. I have removed all store bought bad for you chemical products from our house and bodies. Are all these ingredients good for your body and health? Or are they like the store bought products? Thank you for all this Great information. Patti G

MrChokelat said...

how about substitute dry flo with tapioca starch , its ok?

Katy Penwell said...

I just found your blog and I just have to say that I am in LOVE with it. I can just throw out the rest of the internet and read here forever. It's clever, funny, and I love that you get into the science of things. You aren't afraid to tell folks the truth behind words like "natural", "chemical" and "organic". I am an organic gardener that uses chemicals, I make soaps with organic oils that end up not being organic (thanks to our good friend NaOH), and I make mineral makeup out of rocks from nature but it isn't organic or natural either. Talk about confusing to the end consumer! Thanks for clearing up some of the misconceptions and giving me some great new ideas.

Sarah said...

Hi Susan! I just ordered the Everything Kit from TKB for making natural cosmetics. I've been interested in starting a cosmetics company for quite some time (ran two Kickstarter campaigns!). I was going to start with ordering from a company, but ultimately decided to formulate mineral makeup on my own. I found your site and have found it to be quite informative! I've been researching mineral makeup cosmetics for nearly a year before I jumped in and purchased the kit, which came with the Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Beauty Products by Sally Trew. I'm a little confused with some of the terminology. You often refer to the color grind you are using, but I have found many sites that say not to grind micas as it damages them. So why is it called a color grind? Is it actually ground? Or is the mica added after? Every recipe on your site calls for just mixing in the bag, as do the instructions on TKB (pigments = grind, mica = do not grind), but in the book TKB supplied, the recipes tell you to grind the micas! I thought that was bad?? She also refers to her mixes as 'color grinds' so I figured I would just ask for a little clarification. I enjoy your recipes much more than the ones in her book, as yours are much more clearly written, and a bit more simplified, not to mention the book recipes are for huge batches. Could you clarify if micas should or should not be ground, and why it's referred to as a 'color grind' even if the micas included in the 'grind' should not be and aren't ground? Thanks, Susan! :)


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah. I don't grind my mica, as demonstrated by the recipes on the blog. They're called colour grinds because...hmm, not sure. That's just what we call them. We do grind the non-sparkly ingredients like iron oxides and such, but not the micas as we could damage them. Why do we call the non-colour ingredients "fillers"? They're essential ingredients, and we gave them a name that makes them sound unnecessary! Argh!

Good luck formulating! This is a great hobby!

Sarah said...

Thanks Susan!

So if I were adding silk mica or sericite mica or treated sericite mica to my eyeshadow base, would I grind that, or add them after grinding the other ingredients? Since technically they're mica, but essentially colorless. In that case, would I grind the mica?

Thanks for answering my questions :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah! I'm going to refer you to the posts on the filler micas or recipes in which I use them to see what I do. There are reasons to grind them and reasons not to grind them, and I think a huge part of the learning experience is getting into your workshop with the ingredients and seeing what happens when you try them in different recipes and use different methods to combine them. Try doing some in the squishing bag method and some in a grinder and feel the difference between the two versions. See how they go on your skin, combine with the colours, stand up over time.

I am totally sure that you are cursing my name right now, but I want to encourage you to experiment and come to your own conclusions as I feel it makes for a more significant learning experience than just being told what to do. This is how I learned, and i know that I cursed my mentor's name more than once a day for at least the first year for not giving me what I wanted! If you are going to run your own company, knowing what each ingredient brings to the mix, knowing why you included each one and how to substitute it if necessary is essential.

This isn't to say that I won't answer your questions - I love doing that - but some things are better experienced than read about!

Have fun formulating! And please come back to share what you've learned!

Sarah said...

Thanks Susan! No, I'm totally not cursing your name, lol. You pretty much answered my question the way I would've liked it to be answered! I couldn't figure out in your filler mica posts if they were ground or not, but it makes more sense to me to test them- grind them and not grind them and see what the properties of each are after. I prefer hands on vs. instructions anyway. There's a difference between following a recipe and actually knowing why the recipe works. I just wanted to make sure I didn't totally screw something up (I have a limited budget and I can't afford to really 'waste' anything by totally messing something up entirely and having to toss it without being able to experiment with it) by grinding something that would've ruined it, or not grinding an ingredient and not being able to after mixing it with the mica.

I've spent all day labeling each bag with it's properties so when I finally sit down and make my mix, I'm armed with knowledge! :)

I'll definitely come back and let you know what I come up with!

Sarah said...

Hi Susan, Sarah again. I've been spending all my free time formulating (yay!) and the only problem I've been hitting a wall with is trying to determine to how make colors more full coverage. I have made 8 different base recipes and each have their own unique properties, but I've noticed when using colorant, I'm lacking information for how much colorant vs base to use. I've used 1:4, 1:3 and 2:3 base to colorant, respectively. I noticed that anytime I use an oxide, the color is more full coverage with excellent adhesion, even when I use a more transparent base, but when I just use mica (used only one color in the experiments- I did a large grid), the color is very sheer and rubs immediately off. I could not find any information about the slip and drag of mica itself. I used a very adhesive, opaque base as a trial and even that rubbed right off, which I could not understand as testing the base alone, it was quite adhesive. Is mica just super slippery? Do I have to use one non-mica colorant in every color to get that adhesion and full coverage (without whiteness), or do I have to build mica colors to get the coverage and adhesion? Just a little confused.

Thanks Susan!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah. I think you've kind of answered the question yourself! It sounds like you need to include an oxide in your colours if you're using the base you've created.

This is the art part of making cosmetic products. You'll have to experiment to figure out what the right ratio of colour to base is for each of the colours you make. You can't just say that it's always 1:2 or 4:1 or whatever because it will change with how much oxide you use (or none at all), what micas you use, how vibrant, how matte, how shiny, and so on. And it might be that you need a few different bases depending upon what colourants you're using.

Have you checked out the post I wrote on micas? (The short answer is that it will depend upon what type you are using.)

I'm enjoying hearing of your adventures. Keep us up to date on what you're doing! It's great fun!

Sarah said...

Hi Susan!

Sarah again. So I've had a lot of luck experimenting and making colors and such. And I thought they were pretty great, so-

I had some people try them out, and so far, the biggest complaint I've heard is that they're "chalky." One person said the powder was "too dry." (I'm still not sure how a powder can be too dry...) I don't have much in the way of "drying" ingredients, so I'm assuming she also meant chalky.

What can I do to combat this? I don't want to futz with the color, and I'm trying to stay away from any additives that have been scrutinized in recent years (bismuth oxychloride, calcium carbonate, talc, etc. etc) and I try to stay away from "chemical-y" sounding things, like dimethicone.

What can I up the percentage of in my formula that could help with this? I'm uncertain of what "chalky" means, I'm guessing not enough slip. I don't have the same feelings when I swatch a color- I actually thought the slip was very nice.

I've seen it suggested to spray the powder down with dimethicone or use jojoba oil, but I'm not familiar with jojoba oil and I don't want to add an ingredient that may break down and go rancid over time, and I don't want to mess with having to have a preservative (if you even need one with jojoba oil? I don't know...)


Typical Recipes (that have been mentioned as being "chalky"):
1 part base
1 part colored oxide
2 parts violet
1/2 part colored oxide
1 part colored mica

2 parts base
1/2 part colored oxide
2 parts sericite
1/2 part magnesium myristate
1/2 part boron nitride
3 parts titanium dioxide

1 part base
1 part ultramarine
1/2 part carmine
1 1/2 parts violet
1 part microspheres
1 part magnesium myristate
1 part boron nitride

Base for reference:
90% carnauba wax coated sericite
4% titanium dioxide
3% sericite mica, plain
2.7% silica microspheres
0.3% zinc oxide

These recipes were fine to the end user:
4 parts base
1 part chromium oxide green
3 parts ultramarine
2 parts colored oxide
1 1/2 parts sericite mica
1/4 part colored mica

2 parts base
10 parts colored oxide
2 parts sericite
1 part microspheres
1/2 part magnesium myristate
1/2 part boron nitride


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Sarah! Thank you for coming back and sharing! I'm so happy to hear of your adventures in this wonderful hobby!

If you're using a carnauba wax coated sericite, there'll be less slip and glide than if you were using a dimethicone coated one, for example. Have you tried upping the more glidy ingredients, like the silica microspheres, and reducing the waxy mica? Oxides will make your product feel draggy, as weill as ultramarines, magnesium myristate, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide, to name a few things. Micas will make it feel more glidy.

I take it you're making foundations and blushes as well as eye shadows? Have you considered making a primer? That might solve some of the problems?

I'm sorry that I don't have a lot more to offer. There are so many ingredients for mineral make-up that can increase slip and glide, but they are generally things with more chemical type names, like dimethicone. It's really all about trial and error. If your guinea pigs are teling you they don't like something, all you can do is listen and figure out what to try next. Getting to know your ingredients is part of that, and the other part is trying and seeing what works and what doesn't work.

If I had one place for you to start, I'd say get more of the microspheres in there or try dimethicone treated mica. I think that would go a long way at the moment...

Calcium carbonate? It's naturally occurring in chalk, limestone, and sea shells. Why would an ingredient like that come under scrutiny? I don't get that at all...

Sarah said...

Hi Susan!! Thanks for the response.

As for the calcium carbonate, I googled it and the first few responses were "warnings" for it being used as a cosmetics additive. I figured that even if it wasn't correct, it would be prudent to not use anything even closely considered a "threat," even if the "threat" to someone was off misinformation. I figured it didn't affect me too much whether I used it or not, really. Of course I googled again and those sites are gone, so....

I've asked them to be more specific by what they meant by "chalky." They said my shadows are more powdery than other brands, and that they don't really stick to themselves or anything else. The big brand they all like that they're comparing me to use the same ingredients I do, so I'm not sure how mine can be so different.

I read that wetting the shadows down with a liquid helps keep them from "flyaways." Would a spritz of dimethicone help with this? Should I use 100 or 350? Both are offered on the TKB site. I would totally just use dimethicone if it solved my issues, and just put a note on the website that it's just essentially silicone in liquid form. I'm actually leaning toward this solution quite a bit, I just don't know which kind to order. What's the difference? TKB's website doesn't really elaborate on it too much.

I tested the shadows using a drop of jojoba oil. They're much more smooth. Would I need to use a preservative if I use jojoba? I know it's essentially a liquid wax.

I haven't tried foundations or blushes or primer yet. I have yet to come across a good recipe for primer. Is there one here on your blog?

Thank you for all your help!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Sarah! If you look at the mineral make-up section of the blog, you'll find the experiments I did with binders as well as dozens of other recipes and links to fillers.

I've written a lot about dimethicone on the blog. It is a silicone. It's used a lot in hair and skin care products. (I'm not sure why you would mention it was silicone in liquid form?) I encourage you to check out the post I've written on dimethicone, which you can find in the links to lists on the right hand side of the blog. It's one of my favourite ingredients!

As I mentioned previously, there are different kinds of coated micas and they feel different. I know I find the waxy ones less silky and smooth than the ones coated with dimethicone. I think you may want to consider adding some moisturizing qualities to the powders.

Sarah said...

Thanks Susan! Sorry, i was quite tired when I wrote that and in my head I was mixing up silicone and silica. Usually people think of silica as a gel, and that's where that comment came from, lol. Apologies.

I took a look at the post, I think that dimethicone would solve most of the problems I've been having.

I do up the content of things that give slip in some of my formulas, so I'll think about adding more to the colors I'm having trouble with. I guess in my mind, "didn't stick" meant "needs to be more adhesive," but now I'm getting some feedback saying that the colors looked patchy when applied, but build well. So I would assume slip is the main issue.

I'm definitely going to order some Dimethicone to give it a try. I looked for dimethicone treated sericite and everywhere I looked, it's been discontinued. :( I did find some at, but I'm not familiar with that website. I think I may just up my slippery ingredients to counteract the waxy mica, since I can't find too much on the dimethicone mica.

I still can't find too much info on whether jojoba oil needs a preservative- if I added a drop in, would I also need preservative?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah! I'll refer you to the what you need to know about making products, part one in the newbie section of the blog for your answer about preservative.

I will encourage you to try different ingredients to see what you like. I have a base that I love and that the people for whom and with whom I make products enjoy too, but making that takes time. I'm so glad you're open to feedback and making changes!