The recipe is anything but new: The Egyptians knew the advantages of finely ground stones and quartz and applied them specifically for beauty. The cosmetic industry has rediscovered this ancient wisdom and is now promoting make-up, powder and eye-shadow based on minerals as the latest "magic powder". It's the beginning of a new trend.
"Minerals ingredients in cosmetics are clearly in vogue," said Martin Ruppmann of the German cosmetic association based in Berlin.
Among the array of products designed to protect the skin from harmful sunrays, mineral-based creams for years have been replacing their chemical-based counterparts. Now mineral-based make-up is aiming to knock the competition out of the field. And they have their advantages.
"Mineral cosmetics promise to be free of additives such as oils and perfumes. That makes them very tolerable," said Britta John of a German association of perfumeries in Bielefeld.
"These days almost every woman has a problem with her skin," said make-up artist Janette Schwericke of Berlin. Make-ups that are without preservatives and fragrances are especially desirable.
For example, in Germany, L'Oreal, one of the best-known brands in the market, has introduced a preservative - and fragrance-free make-up series that includes powder, eye-shadow and rouge.
It's old hat in the US. More than 10 years ago, Jane Iredale released a make-up series based on titanium oxide and zinc oxide. She advertises her line with the arguments that it is especially healthy for the skin and well-tolerated.
Iredale began her career as a casting agent in Hollywood and she knows well the concerns and needs of people who tax their skin daily with cosmetics.
Titan dioxide and zinc oxide are derived from black ilmenite or titan irons and provide the best coverage of white pigments. Studies conducted thus far show it to be completely nontoxic and is also used as an additive in products such as toothpaste and cough drops.
As titan dioxide particles reflect light, they serve well as an immediate sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection.
Zinc oxide is derived from red zinc ore and has been used for a long time as a white dye. Due to its antiseptic properties, it is found in many skin products and salves for treating wounds. It also reflects light and, like titan dioxide, is used as a sun block.
Mineral-based cosmetics are not only good because they are easily tolerated, experts say. They also work to inhibit inflammation, soothe the skin and at the same time guarantee a natural protection from UV sunlight because their small particles reflect the rays.
Aside from that make-up made from minerals doesn't clog the pores, as is often the case with ordinary makeup because it doesn't soak into the skin so it can breathe.
In addition, mineral-based make-up is fortified with vitamins and antioxidants. "This mixture protects the skin from environmental effects and also precludes aging of the skin," said star makeup artist Horst Kirchberger of Munich. Kirchberger has just converted his rouge series completely to a mineral-based product.
Makers of mineral-based creams and powders say it fuses optimally with the skin, covering it evenly and concealing redness and impurities. The result is an even complexion. Even wrinkles are reduced, said Ruppmann.
"The micro-fine particles reflect the light like soft focus filter on a camera," he said.
Despite the enthusiasm for the products, there are critics who don't believe in the 100 percent effectiveness of the "magic powder". They argue that ordinary cosmetics are put through such extensive testing that there is hardly a risk of allergy, said Ursula Haas, director of a makeup school in Frankfurt.
"In my experience people with very dry skin don't look good in mineral-based makeup," said Schwericke. Also, the colours that are available thus far are not ideal for every skin tone.
And while the maker of mineral-based makeup consider it the cosmetic of the future, Schwericke sees it as a short-lived trend. The cosmetic industry always has to come up with something new.
"Tomorrow there will be something new on the market that you've just got to have," she said.