Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mineral make-up ingredients: Zinc oxide

Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a staple in mineral make-up products. So why do we use it?

Zinc oxide tends to whiten skin, so we use it in MMU as a skin whitener that is going to be less opaque than titanium dioxide (more about this product tomorrow). It offers good coverage - the more you use, the less translucent your product - and you can make some heavy coverage products with it. (It is especially good combined with titanium dioxide to make concealers).

It is approved for use as an anti-chafing and soothing ingredient (in the U.S. it is classified under category 1, skin protectant) and as a sunscreen - but not in mineral make-up that you make! It is slightly astringent, so it is great for oily or inflamed skin. It is anti-septic, anti-microbial, and fungicidal, so it can act as a treatment for annoyed skin as well. And finally, it is good for relieving the prickly feeling and irritation of heat, so it is a good choice for summer products.

(Please do not make claims of any nature about your mineral make-up products, except they are awesome and make you feel prettier!)

When making mineral make-up products, we want to think about the light scattering and hiding properties. Zinc oxide isn't that great at the light scattering bit - titanium dioxide is much better - but it is good at hiding imperfections. It's also great for adding to eye shadow or blush bases to lighten the colour and improve the adhesion.

It does have a tendency to clump, so you'll want to make sure you sieve it well before using.

(You can find the list in this post...)
Usage rate: 0 to 100% (but I wouldn't recommend going higher than 10% or so unless you want heavy coverage)

Whiteness or opacity: Zinc oxide offers both of these and offers light to heavy coverage, depending upon usage rates.

Translucency: Yeah, zinc oxide is not so much about the translucency, but it's more translucent than titanium dioxide.

Skin protection: This is where zinc oxide shines (not literally as it's quite matte)! It's great for all skin types, and is actually classified as a skin protectant.

Slip: Not great here. It's a little draggy at times, which is why we don't use it in massive amounts.

Adhesion: Yep, zinc oxide will help with adhesion in your products.

Absorbency: It's okay in that it will absorb some of the oils from your face being that it's astringent, but it's not going to hold a ton of oils. It won't morph your colour, though.

Light scattering properties: It does help scatter light, but not as much as titanium dioxide.

Join me tomorrow to have some fun with titanium dioxide!


Ben said...

Hi Susan! Just wondering about the solubility of this product. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi I love your blog very informative for newbies!
I'm trying to create a diaper ointment with zinc oxide. I have a recipe I want to modify to my own but wondering about preservative. This is the recipe:
16 oz Sweet Almond Oil
8 oz Shea Butter
8 oz Jojoba Oil
4.5 oz Virgin Coconut Oil
4.5 oz Beeswax
2 Drops Calendula Absolut

Robert said...

Can you use zinc oxide as one of the ingredients for lip balm? If so, how much is recommended and SPF equivalent.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Robert! You could, but you can't make any claims about it being a sunscreen as you cannot figure that out without extensive testing. (I've written about this a lot.) I have a recipe for an eye shadow primer on the blog - find it here - using titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Feel free to modify it to use more or less of either ingredient.

Sherry Mata said...

I've been researching zinc oxide and found that almost all of it is synthetic. I'm wondering what that means as far as this is concerned and is it something that I need to worry about?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sherry. Synthetic doesn't mean bad for you, so it really doesn't mean anything if it has been created or found naturally in the ground. Zinc oxide has tons of great features - it's soothing to our skin, it's anti-septic and anti-fungal, and anti-chafing, to name a few things.

Check out this information from Wikipedia on how zinc oxide is processed! Fascinating stuff!

Nurse Mi'el said...

Thank you for this page and pretty much every other one. Such an incredible resource. I am going to browse a little more but I'm certain I'll donate soon, and I love the idea that it's going to a good cause (although I believe you should be compensated for all this work as well, but to each their own).

Any chance of future forays into the world of mineral makeup? I went from mixing shea butter with lotion to wanting to formulate all different types of lotions from scratch thanks to your site, and I want to feel as knowledgeable about mineral makeup, if possible.

I'm not, nor do I intend to use any of this for commercial or for-profit use, in case, I don't know, you'd like to know more about your community? I will definitely be making plenty of gifts though once I learn more about preservatives and get a few key ingredients.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nurse Mi'el! I've written pretty much all I want to write on mineral make-up at this time. I have about 90 posts on the topic, and they cover what I know. I have written since about different colour combinations, but there really aren't any new and exciting ingredients for MMU coming out.

If you want to make things for yourself or to sell, either way it's all good!