DIY Mineral Makeup

Basic mineral makeup is comparable in quality to commercial cosmetics, but customizable for your skin and far less expensive.

  • When you first test your homemade mineral makeup, put a swatch on your cheek and compare the color to your skin tone.
    Getty Images/Yue_
  • In general we want our cosmetics to have these characteristics: slip, adhesion, pigmentation, and opacity.
    Getty Images/InkkStudios
  • The vitamin E oil in our homemade mineral makeup will keep it from going rancid for at least a year.
    Photo by Getty Images/JeanUrsula;
  • Always begin by adding less pigment than you think you'll need; you can add more later, but if you add too much, you'll have to start over.
    Photo by Marie Rayma

I grew up in a family of makers. My mother made costumes and curtains, cookies and casseroles. My father made cabinets, staircases, and an amazing treehouse for our imaginative childhood games. I grew up knowing that although clothes, food, and furniture could come from stores, they could also be created at home. But makeup? Makeup was a substance in and of itself, a mysterious subclass of colorful creams and powders that could transform different bits of my face into something new.

Eventually, I started to create my own skin care products — lip balm led to body butter and then to lotion — and at some point, the idea of homemade makeup came onto my radar. I wasn’t a devoted cosmetics user, but once I began to learn what makeup was made of and how those ingredients worked together, I started mixing powders and butters into my own colorful concoctions. I could make lip balm, and I had some pigments — and isn’t that basically lipstick? The power to create and customize was mine in a whole new way!

Choose the Right Equipment

Thanks to the web, making your own cosmetics is more accessible than ever. In the United States, TKB Trading is an excellent source for makeup ingredients and packaging; in Canada, try Windy Point Soap Making Supplies. Makeup ingredients are inexpensive and have long shelf lives; you can purchase the supplies for what might be a lifetime’s worth of mineral makeup for less than $40!

For equipment, you’ll need a standard blade coffee grinder (reserved only for your DIY projects), a dust mask, standard measuring spoons, and a set of small “dash” measuring spoons in 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 teaspoon. You’ll also need a few disposable pipettes for measuring drops of the oils you’ll use; keep the pipettes in service as long as possible by storing them on the side of the oil bottle with a rubber band.

Gather Your Ingredients

In general, we want our cosmetics to have a variety of different characteristics: slip (ability to spread well, with a nice feel against the skin), adhesion (ability to stay on), pigmentation (strong colors), and opacity (coverage). Of course, we also want our cosmetics to be non-irritating, to feel nice on the skin, and to be safe. For mineral makeup, we’re looking for moderate to high coverage, strong and accurate pigmentation, great slip, and at least 8 to 12 hours of comfortable wear time.

Different ingredients bring different characteristics to our cosmetics, so we blend them to create a perfect final product. A little coverage from this, some adhesion and slip from that, and so on — it’s a lot like cooking in this regard. Many makeup recipes online will tell you that high-quality cosmetics can be made using only common kitchen ingredients, such as cocoa powder and turmeric, but that’s just not true (I’ve tried). We’ll be using pure mineral ingredients to create makeup that’s comparable to the high-quality, store-bought options.

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