Best mineral makeup to use for acne/dry flakes combo?
April 29, 2008 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Acne plus dry flakes -- should I make the switch to mineral makeup?

I have acne including purple/red scars on my cheeks and am looking to make the switch from liquid foundation to mineral powder makeup (i.e. Pur Minerals or Bare Escentuals). I try to avoid makeup for obvious reasons but when I need/want to use something, I would ideally like coverage that does not highlight the fact that I have dry, flaking skin.

Any advice on the best mineral makeup for my predicament before I head to Sephora? I have looked at MakeUp Alley and previous AskMe threads on the subject of makeup for those with acne. I would also appreciate any tips acne sufferers have on eliminating dry flakes.

My skincare routine - Proactive x2 day, moisturizer (also Proactive) x2 day.
posted by laroodles to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm researching mineral makeups for my own use right now, and the one thing that has really stood out to me in the reviews is that some companies like BE include bismuth oxychloride, which can be very irritating to sensitive skin. I'm probably going to start out by trying Everyday Minerals, which is bismuth-free and has just four (4!) ingredients in their foundations.
posted by vers at 1:15 PM on April 29, 2008

In my experience, mineral makeup makes flakey skin look much, much worse. I've got acne and used Proactive with much success during my teenage years. Then in college I started flaking and no amount of moisturizer or exfoliation helped. Through trial and error, I realized that benzoyl peroxide, in any concentration, is just too harsh on my super oily though surprisingly delicate skin. I never adjusted to it after my teenage skin became my similar though pickier adult skin.

Now I use a 2% salicylic acid liquid at night (and AM too if I'm very broken out), an 8% alpha hydroxy acid a few times a week in the AM (I like Paula's Choice because it's a straightforward preparation), and benzoyl peroxide (2.5%) very sparingly as a spot treatment. It takes longer to clear me up after a breakup than Proactive did, but my skin is much happier.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:16 PM on April 29, 2008

I'd advise you to carefully research mineral makeup before trying a particular brand. I have Lupus and a quite often sport a facial rash as a result, and have referred to many Lupus-related message boards when it comes to makeup. The general concensus I've found is that mineral powder makeup is very drying to the skin. Personally, what I've found helpful to cover up my various red patches is a green cover stick. Apply that to the discolored portions of your face first, blend it in a bit, and then use whatever traditional foundation you'd normally use over it.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:17 PM on April 29, 2008

And on preview, seconding vers on the dangers of bismuth oxychloride. The first time I used a mineral makeup, I couldn't figure out why my face was so itchy and miserable, but turns out that was the culprit.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:19 PM on April 29, 2008

Many dermatologists think that Proactive is much too harsh. If would recommend going to see a derm and seeing what therapeutic options s/he recommends. And in the meantime, you should use a very mild toner (no alcohol) to deflake your skin, immediately followed by a substantial, oil free moisturizer. Cetaphil is a good one.

Mineral make-up as well as powders in general do not look great on dry, flaky skin. The powder tends to highlights the flakes. You can still use it, of course, but I'd be really diligent with exfoliating and moisturizing before applying make-up (just with a cotton ball and some gentle toner. No physical exfoliants or anything else gritty as they are almost always damaging and counterproductive).
posted by buka at 1:30 PM on April 29, 2008

While I was on Accutane, I used Physician's Formula compact mineral powder. I bought a decent quality kabuki brush for application. My face was very red, sensitive, and flaky, and the PF powder did a nice job of toning down the redness without caking. This was the only foundation my poor skin would tolerate!
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 2:10 PM on April 29, 2008

okay, i have the same kind of skin you do (purple marks included). i say bah on the mineral shit.

but, when i'm feeling self-concious, i dab some concealer on the bad spots, then brush my entire face with the Physician's Formula green stuff. it really helps, surprisingly.

also, i've used proactiv, and you might want to try a slightly more moisturizing moisturizer to combat the flakies. i didn't find there's to be very...moisturizing.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:26 PM on April 29, 2008

(i am so embarassed by "there's" for "theirs").

also, i wanted to add, i have pretty oily skin for the most part, and was always afraid of using moisturizer thinking it would add to the grease sheen. but actually, i'm slightly less oily now that i'm moisturizing most nights.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:29 PM on April 29, 2008

I used to have this problem. I used to a use a rather heavy moisturizer from Paula's Choice (similar to this, they don't make the exact kind anymore), which I would mix with foundation before applying. It would go matte without drying out my skin and without powder, which I found made everything looked worse.

At night I would use her blemish fighting solution and BHA.

From what I know, mineral makeup is kind of overrated. Just because it is natural doesn't mean it's good. I think powder is ultimately a bad choice for this sort of problem. If you do try some out, I'd suggest looking at EWG's Skin Deep database. I used it to find natural eyeliners when mine started becoming irritating. Although, hilariously, BISMUTH OXYCHLORIDE is listed as low hazard...with a 91% data gap.
posted by melissam at 2:34 PM on April 29, 2008

Dan at suggests mixing Jojoba oil into your moisturizer to combat flakiness.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:38 PM on April 29, 2008

Best answer: I have some dry spots on my face due to acne treatments, and the mineral makeup does accentuate them, due to the way you put it on (with the brush and all the rubbing). Gentle (!) exfoliation (I use Kiehl's Pinepple Papaya Scrub) and some heavy face cream (also Kiehl's- I love that stuff) have helped the best with the flakes.

Also, if you want to try some different foundation shades, Everyday Minerals offers a free sample kit of 3 foundations, 1 blush, and 1 concealor for the price of shipping. A bunch of us over at Metachat ordered the kits, and we've all been happy with what you get for the price.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:40 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can try adding some jojoba oil to your moisturizer. That might eliminate some of the flakes. Or switch to a moisturizer that is specifically for dry skin. Both have helped me; my skin is dry anyway, regardless of whatever acne treatment I'm using.

If I were you, I would go off the Proactiv and switch to a milder benzyol peroxide formula. I use the regimen described at and my face is dramatically, dramatically different. It is totally clear and now I just use the BP at night. I use 2.5% BP - and I've tried 5% and 10%. The 2.5% is just as effective and won't dry your skin out as much. I told my dermatologist about the regimen at and he thought it was great.

And I definitely would not go with the mineral makeup. I tried it once and it was horrible - I felt like it was just falling off my face in clumps.

If you are unwilling to go off the Proactiv, there are some liquid foundations out there that come with moisturizer in them. I use a Bobbi Brown liquid foundation that's made for dry skin. You might want to ask the people who work at Sephora what they recommend - I bet they get this question all the time.
posted by sutel at 2:43 PM on April 29, 2008

I've used mineral makeup for years now, and I feel that for me personally it's helped with acne. You do have to exfoliate, because every little flake will show. I advise you to stay away from both those companies you mentioned, because they are expensive, don't have samples, and use Bismuth oxychloride, which many people find irritating. I think mineral makeup is really a "try before you buy" product, because it's not for everyone.

Everyday Minerals, as TPS suggested, is good, but I found a better match with Aromaleigh. Their formula is very basic- I'd suggest the Glissade if you're a bit dry. There's a minimum 10 dollar order, but if it's all samples, it will ship for free. Plus, you can place sample order after sample order forever, if you're anything like me and enjoy having scads of fun colors to wear without buying full sizes (I find their lines of eyeshadows, blushes, and lipsticks to be top-notch as well). I've also liked Lumiere foundations- they have some very soothing formulas with silk, squalene, or vitamin E. I order form them less often though because Aromaleigh is always coming out with stunning collections. Lumiere has a sample packet under "specials" for first timers.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:18 PM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

A little swab of glycolic acid liquid -- I use "NeoStrata Toning Solution" but any similar product will do it -- totally de-flakes me.

I also use mineral make-up sometimes, and it is the wrong thing for when you're flaky.

Nth that your routine might be too harsh and that a moisturizer would be a good call. The jojoba oil suggestion is a sound one, but I swear by Aquatain and, when I can't find it, Complex 15, both fantastically non-greasy. The tiniest dab right after your shower/bath makes all the difference in the world.

I enthusiastically recommend Lancome Teint Idole and a very fine concealer brush for the job you're trying to do, but really, really not mineral powder. It will just cake in the flakes.
posted by kmennie at 3:19 PM on April 29, 2008

I find that a spritzing liquid sets the mineral powder stuff and cuts down on the chalkiness. Mine is distilled water, lavendar, and a little (really little) glycerine.
posted by answergrape at 3:19 PM on April 29, 2008

OOps, for got to mention that many people with sensitive skin find that applying minerals with a flocked sponge is much less irritating than a brush. So if you decide to order, consider throwing one of them into your cart.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:23 PM on April 29, 2008

mostly this is emphasizing what other people have said, but I've definitely found that using multiple acne products at once can be way to harsh and lead to uncontrollable flaking. If I were you, I'd cut out a Proactive step or two. Like use Cetaphil wash and use Proactive treatment/lotion at night and then Cetaphil moisturizer in the morning.

Also, let the moisturizer sit/dry a minute before you apply the makeup.

On brand -- I've been pretty happy with everyday minerals. I like their green under-concealer, and the original-glo makeup. You should get samples of a couple of the finishes (matte, original glow, semi-matte, and see what you like. I didn't think that was very predictable.)
posted by mercredi at 4:25 PM on April 29, 2008

I agree with the others about proactiv vs. - proactiv was way too harsh for my ridiculously sensitive skin, and it dried it out much more than regular. Over the past year I've been using the 2.5% benzoyl peroxide formula from (just once a day), combined with a whole lot of cetaphil moisturizer (luckily, it comes in a giant pump size on the cheap). This has made a huge difference in my skin, allowing me to wear makeup much more easily.
posted by Herman Hermanson at 4:37 PM on April 29, 2008

My very sensitive, rash-prone, skin has improved on mineral make-up (pressed powder in my case). I hadn't worn makeup in years before I tried the mineral stuff. However, my problems aren't the same as yours -- I get some pimples, but mostly my problem is a nonstop facial peeling that is helped by nothing. If I exfoliate, I don't look like ole dandruff face when I use the makeup. I don't use any products for that, though. Less is usually more when it comes to products and your poor face, acne or no acne.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:15 PM on April 29, 2008

You can try adding some jojoba oil to your moisturizer.

Or you can use a moisturizer with jojoba oil already in it. This is my favorite moisturizer of all time, and my skin is extremely sensitive - in fact, when I started using the Nivea, my cheeks had been covered in angry red patches of unknown origin for months. They disappeared within two weeks. I totally grabbed it on a whim, too, just because I was at Walgreens and desperate and they had a $2 sample.

Anyway, I agree that mineral makeup will emphasize flakes and the Proactive may be too harsh. On Makeup Alley they always recommend prescription retinoids, which will irritate your skin at first but eventually calm it down. Harsher products irritate your skin like crazy and may actually make your acne worse.

I don't know about foundation, but I'd think that a liquid foundation designed for sensitive skin would be preferable to mineral makeup. I personally use Prescriptives custom blend and I love it, but my acne is not as severe as yours. (P.S. WEAR SUNSCREEN with any sort of chemical exfoliant - including proactive - or you are doing way more harm than good.).
posted by granted at 5:59 PM on April 29, 2008

It sounds like your skin is very similar to mine. I've tried dozens of brands and have come out with two favourites: and Both have sample sizes you can order so you can figure out your exact shade. There's a huge price difference between the two; Inika is a bit better in my opinion, but I don't think it's quite that many times better as the price would indicate!
posted by Lucie at 2:35 AM on April 30, 2008

Response by poster: My sixth month report:

Thanks to people on this thread, I successfully changed acne regimens and am now following the one suggested at It has been six months, and I have had virtually no pimples, even during the most stressful of times! I highly recommend making the switch from Proactive to the regimen if you are still struggling with acne.

I have also been very happy with Everyday Minerals although I try to really keep my make-up wearing days to a bare minimum.

Thanks mefites!
posted by laroodles at 12:28 PM on October 22, 2008

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