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When cosmetic companies first brought their lines of what they called "mineral makeup" to the public in the late '70s, corporations called them radical, and quickly pushed them out of the mainstream market. However, after grinding it out for the last 30 years on infomercials and by word of mouth, mineral makeup is finally getting the public's attention. Today, it's in the pages of magazines and at the top of celebrities' must-have lists. But what is mineral makeup? Read on to find out. What is mineral makeup? "The whole idea behind mineral makeup is to not use anything known to interrupt the skin's natural function," explains Ruben Potrebenko, makeup artist and national educator for Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics. "What makes it so unique," he continues, "is that it's usually free of fillers like talc -- which clogs pores -- and FD&C colour -- a known carcinogen." According to mineral makeup manufacturer Pure + Simple Cosmetics, the minerals themselves, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and iron oxide mixed with pure pigment offer many skin care benefits. Titanium and zinc are natural anti-inflammatories, so they calm and soothe the skin; titanium dioxide is a natural sunscreen and carries an SPF of 15 to 20; and the minerals won't support bacteria growth like standard makeup, because the minerals are inert. Quick application Most mineral foundations are four products in one -- foundation, concealer, powder and sunscreen. What this means for you is that it's faster to put on. "Another thing that makes this product so easy," explains Potrebenko, "is that it can be as simple as possible for the makeup beginner or challenging enough for the makeup artist -- it covers every realm. The more you put on, the more colour, coverage and sun protection you get." While it's true some women swear by mineral makeup, others find it can look or feel dry or even cakey. If so, manufacturers recommend trying a lighter application of the product, or waiting for your moisturizer to completely absorb before applying. It may be worth trying it out at a makeup counter before buying. Get some glow Not only are the minerals lighter and easier to put on, but they also give you a fantastic natural glow. "The reason mineral makeup is doing so well is because it makes the skin look fantastic," Potrebenko says. "The minerals actually reflect light off the skin like millions of little mirrors, which make the wearer look flawless. This product is also highly water resistant, so it won't rain off, snow off or cry off, and you can swim in it for up to 80 minutes without it lifting off the surface of the skin." Mineral vs. traditional According to makeup companies Jane Iredale and Pure + Simple Cosmetics, mineral makeup is pure, lacking talc and other fillers; allows the skin to breathe; is a natural sun protector; and can relieve skin problems such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Mineral-based makeup is also gentler on skin, they say. Where to buy it • Try a Sephora store or www.sephora.com for a quality mineral foundation and powder line called Bare Escentuals, which has garnered lots of praise on the beauty blog Jolie in NYC. • Shoppers Drug Mart carries Mineral FX ($37: www.shoppersdrugmart.com), which is talc free. • Visit spas and dermatologist offices for the Jane Iredale cosmetics line, which also include lipsticks and eye shadows. • Try shopping on the web. Derm Store and the Spa Boutique specialize in mineral makeup products.