The list of claims for this product make it sound like Nirvana for the skin. For all intents and purposes the showcased ingredient in this product is, well, dirt. (Dirt is my term, Bare Escentuals uses the term “Jurassic, virgin soil,” but by any name, soil is just another term for dirt, although I have to agree soil does sounds less, well, dirty). I have to admit that seeing dirt advertised as skin care is a first!
RareMinerals Skin Revival Treatment is supposed to contain 72 organic “macro” and “micro” minerals. However, you won’t find 72 minerals listed on the ingredient label, just Soil Minerals—so you have to take their word that these 72 minerals are present in the “virgin” dirt. According to the company, this mixture, along with the other ingredients, will produce firmer, smoother, and brighter skin while at the same time prompting exfoliation and reducing pore size. Essentially, this is being sold as a one-size fits all “skin-care” product “feeding” skin with everything it needs to look its best and function optimally. That part is definitely a stretch because, first and foremost, this powder-based product isn’t moisturizing in the least (minerals aren’t moisturizing, if anything they absorb oil), nor does it provide sun protection. Its mica base is there for the shine, and while other absorbent minerals are included they also prevent the skin-identical ingredients in the product from having much, if any, benefit for skin. Actually, the formula isn’t too far removed from the original bareMinerals Foundation SPF 15. Both are loose powders that go on smoothly and impart a radiant glow to skin, the latter the result of those shiny particles of mica.
RareMinerals Skin Revival Treatment comes in four shades, including a Clear option that still imparts some color, and most of them provide enough coverage to camouflage minor flaws and redness, so you will perceive that your skin looks better. The recommendation to wear this at night is just shocking to me. Be forewarned that sleeping with this product on your face will result in makeup stains on your pillowcase, and that leaving this stuff on overnight would most likely be drying and irritating. Minerals on the skin, even plain talc or chalk or soil of any kind, aren’t soothing in the least, and need to be washed off, not worn to bed, and this product is no exception.
Getting back to the mineral claims, is there anything to them? Does this “pure mineral concentrate” hold the secret to revitalized, youthful skin? Regardless of the purity of the soil, minerals cannot be absorbed by skin (their molecules are just too big), so any effect would be entirely superficial. Moreover, while there hasn’t been much research on topical application of minerals, we do know that whether they are applied topically or ingested, minerals depend on other factors (most notably coenzymes) to work, and even when that happens the benefits aren’t all that exciting (Sources: Cosmeceuticals, Elsner & Maiback, 2000, pages 29–30; and International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 1997, page 105). There is no substantiated research proving that minerals, whether concentrated or not, exfoliate skin or have any effect on pore size. Any perceived reduction in pore size from using this product is solely from its reflective quality and natural opacity, the same as any other powder foundation. It can work to temporarily fill in large pores, but when it’s washed off any potential benefit is washed away at the same time.
You may be wondering about the vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in this product. According to the chemists I spoke with, ascorbic acid tends to remain stable in an anhydrous (waterless) product, which this powder certainly qualifies as. How much of the vitamin C reaches the skin is a question, however, along with whether RareMinerals uses an effective amount.
The bottom line is that although RareMinerals may be unique in terms of its extraction process and its use of virgin soil, those elements won’t translate into skin care. It’s just another form of powder, and a rather expensive one at that.
Mica, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Soil Minerals, Illite, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopherylacetate (Vitamin E), Ectoin, Cyclopia Intermedia (Honey Bush) Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Extract, Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract, Aspalathus Linearis (Roobios) Leaf Extract. May Contain: Bismuth Oxychloride, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides
Makeup is what this San Francisco-based cosmetics line is primarily about, and they use the pure and natural marketing angle to entice consumers. The self-proclaimed "healthiest, purest makeup in the world" was founded in 1976 by Diane Ranger, who left the company in the early '90s, and is now run by Leslie Blodgett, who appears regularly on QVC and the company's own infomercials to support and demonstrate her products. Blodgett is largely credited with turning the line she began into a $150 million business—no small feat. The products are sold in most Sephora boutiques and Ulta stores, though the full selection of skin-care products is most often found at the Bare Escentuals freestanding stores scattered throughout the United States.
Supporting the company's portrayal as a leader in purity are the corresponding claims that the bareMinerals makeup does not contain fragrance, oil, binders, preservatives, emulsifiers, or any other harmful chemicals. Although this line does have its advantages for someone with sensitive skin, as it turns out, bismuth oxychloride, a major ingredient in the powder formulations, can cause skin irritation, while the other minerals can be drying (Source: www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Bismuth_oxychloride-9923103). Regarding bismuth oxychloride, it is interesting to note that bismuth (a metallic element) seldom occurs in nature. Instead, it is a by-product of copper and lead refining, or is manufactured synthetically. Chemically, it's similar to arsenic, a fact you won't see in any advertising for bareMinerals. However, just as cosmetic-grade mineral oil is not identical to the petroleum from which it originated, neither is bismuth oxychloride identical to bismuth. The bismuth oxychloride used in cosmetics is non-toxic, but this background offers a good example of how skewed a company's definition of "natural" can be.
Aside from the health and purity claims, loose powders are as messy as it gets in terms of your vanity (countertop, not ego) and your makeup bag. The powder just gets all over the place, and the very basic packaging does not do much to minimize the mess. Additionally, while there are softer neutral shades, and some fairly exotic shades as well, most are mildly to extremely shiny and make any amount of crepey skin look more so. The face powder does provide some amount of opaque coverage, but the shine and the thickness can be a bit much. The loose powder eyeshadows and blushes apply in a somewhat lighter way, though they still provide significant coverage. Many women ask me about mineral makeup and whether or not it really is better for skin. The answer to that question is "No."
Although most mineral makeup is innocuous, the texture, appearance, and application have difficulties that make it not comparable to today's best liquid or pressed-powder foundations. We agree with bareMinerals' stance that foundation shouldn't look or feel like a mask, nor should there be a line of demarcation where the application stops. However, their foundations are not the only ones able to achieve this, and there is no inherent benefit to this type of foundation over numerous other options.
There isn't much to say about the skin-care products, but what's worth paying attention to is noted in the At-a-Glance section.
For more information about Bare Escentuals, call 1.888.795.4747 or visit www.bareescentuals.com.