The Many Shades of Mineral Pigments

Inorganic minerals and pigments used in makeup have many categories, origins, refinement processes, and applications. They can be heavy or light as air, mined from the earth or synthetically created in a lab. They are a mainstay in the world of cosmetics as they are stable colors, unlike their organic counterparts extracted from fruits and vegetables.

Mineral pigments, used as colorants for thousands of years, include a large variety of pigments including micas, iron oxides, sericite, silicas, titanium dioxide, etc. Historically, minerals have been used to color everything from clothing to paint. Modern minerals are comprised of both traditional minerals and new technology that involves lab created pigments that are unique in color, texture, and performance.

When possible, Au Naturale’s color additives are naturally derived and are always purely processed. Our mica pigments are vegan, cruelty-free and naturally derived. We source our mica pigments from companies that have complete control over their supply chains from start to finish to ensure traceability, safety and purity. Our oxide pigments (iron oxides, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide) are all synthetically made pigments in compliance with the FDA, that are nature identical in order to ensure complete safety for our consumer. Our micas and our oxides are purely processed to ensure the highest quality of purity and color payoff. 

But why do all cosmetic pigments need to be processed? The reason is that there are naturally occurring elements in the earth (i.e. heavy metals like lead and arsenic) that can impact the extracted mineral. Minerals need to be purified and checked for heavy metal content so that they do not contaminate you through your skin - the standards for heavy metal content in cosmetics are determined by the FDA. 

We are pleased to see that the conversation around ethical extraction is taking place in our industry. Most notably is the concern around the abuse of children in mines, historically in India. Due to the small size and translucence of micas, they can be hard to harvest from the earth. Children have been, and are still presently used for labor in many mica mines. We are sure to source our micas from verified suppliers who own, operate and audit their mines both internationally and domestically. Because our suppliers own their supply chain from harvesting to processing and distribution, we can assure only the highest quality micas, mined without the use of child labor, are used in our formulations. We are able to make this process happen as we manufacture our makeup in our own private facility. This is quite uncommon in the world of color cosmetics, and offers unparalleled transparency.

As the process of refinement and use of inorganic minerals is complex, we at Au Naturale find that our stance on color additives is evolving every day. One thing we can promise you is that we will always ensure the use of ‘Conscious Color’. We believe these two words precisely define what we do: offer you color that is ethical, safe, and sustainable; values we believe our consumers treasure.


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