Laura Mercier Mineral Powder

Best Loose Mineral Foundation Powders

Foundation and powders with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) can be a great way to add to the daily protection of your face against the sun’s damaging rays. Mineral foundations mostly have a SPF around 15-20, if they contain one or both of the two physical sun filters titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. However, unless you apply your foundation in a very thick layer (and who does that nowadays?) you will not reach the level of SPF stated on the product. Therefore a foundation with SPF should be considered as “topping off” any other sun protection product (sun cream, moisturizer with SPF etc.) you are using daily, rather than providing sufficient protection on its own. Sun protection or not, the most important thing about a mineral foundation is that it looks and feels great on your skin, so below we recommend five of the best loose mineral foundation powders. They range from very affordable L’Oreal Paris to luxurious Laura Mercier and all have a subtle glow, without being too shiny or shimmering. If you are not so keen on loose powder, check our list of the best pressed mineral foundation powders. Another option is a BB cream with SPF.

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15

Picking a Shade

Many brands who offer mineral foundations could learn from Jane Iredale and BareMinerals in terms of providing (online) customers with proper color charts with photographs of faces and the shades which match them. Being “matched” by a salesperson in a department store is also not fool-proof as their training in this discipline is often so-so or the electrical lighting indoors can make you choose a shade which is too warm or too light. That being said, it is often possible to blend a not-quite-right foundation shade to fit your skin tone in a decent manner – unless you went way off the map and chose mahogany for porcelain skin or vice versa.

Speaking of mahogany versus porcelain, it is hardly a secret that mainstream makeup manufacturers have often been quite negligent in providing decent color options for women with darker skin than fair to medium, meaning women of African, Native American (south and north), Aboriginal or South Asian descent – which is quite a big group to ignore! Among the mainstream brands we have looked at, we made sure to include mineral foundations which come in a broader range of shades. If you can’t find a shade that suits you among these, try to have a look at Blac Minerals Cosmetics or Sterling Minerals which have more options for darker skin as well as the more “common” fair shades.


The beauty industry cannot really agree on what a mineral foundation is – or isn’t. A lot of makeup products contain talc – a naturally occurring silicate mineral, yet they are not classed as mineral makeup. A common perception is that mineral makeup should contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide to qualify for the designation “mineral”, but as the International Mineralogic Association (IMA) acknowledges more than 5000 mineral species as being minerals, there is quite a lot to choose from besides these two. Apart from this myth about titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as being “The Only True Minerals”, there are a lot of misapprehensions about the other minerals used in mineral makeup, such as talc or bismuth oxychloride. Therefore we have included a short clarifying description of these feared ingredients in the following.

Bismuth Oxychloride

Bismuth oxychloride is also known as “synthetic pearl” and it is exactly due to its properties of giving a soft pearly shimmer and staying on the skin effortlessly, that it is often included in various kinds of makeup. However, bismuth oxychloride has gotten a bad reputation for being an irritant – which is not completely true. Some people can get a reaction from using products with bismuth oxychloride due to its pointy crystalline structure, but that does not mean that bismuth oxychloride is a bad ingredients per se – unlike an ingredient as alcohol which is troublesome for all skin types. Bismuth oxychloride is more likely to cause trouble, however, if it is one of the main ingredients – which is why we excluded the otherwise popular YoungBlood Mineral Foundation from this list. In smaller amounts it is unlikely to cause a reaction.


Mica has many of the same properties as bismuth oxychloride, e.g. providing shimmer and sitting well on the skin. The only problem you will have with mica in makeup is if you are working in a factory producing it and thus exposed to long-term inhalation of large amounts of the fine dust. So, unless you are intent on snorting a jar of mineral foundation powder every day you should be fine.


Talc or talcum powder has mainly gotten its (undeservedly) bad reputation from the possibility of it being contaminated with asbestos. However, there should not be a problem with cosmetic grade talc – which is of course different from talc for industrial use. In the FDA’s 2010 survey of a range of makeup products and baby powders containing talc, there wasn’t found a trace of asbestos in any of them. In a review of the epidemiological evidence, talc without asbestiform fibres was also cleared of suspicion for causing lung cancer by inhalation, but of course you should be careful with sprinkling baby powder around an infant. Talc has also been accused of clogging pores, but this is once again a fallacy. If a product containing talc is clogging your pores, it is most likely due to another more emollient ingredient in the product.

The Line-Up: Best Mineral Foundation Powders

Best Mineral Foundation powders

Overview of the Best Mineral Foundation Powders

Product:Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder SPF20Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15Mary Kay Mineral Powder FoundationBareEscentuals BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder SPF15L'Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation SPF19
Size:10.5 g/0.37 oz.9.6 g/0.34 oz.7.9 g/0.28 oz.6g/0.21 oz.10g/0.35 oz.
Shades:18 (range can vary between countries)7 + 1 bronzer1220 (range can vary between countries)12 (range can vary between countries)

I. Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder SPF20

Jane Iredale Amazing Base Color Chart

Jane Iredale Amazing Base Color Chart – range may vary between countries

Jane Iredale launched her Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder in 1994 and the brand has since then slowly, but securely gained a stronghold in the beauty industry. Especially in Europe it is considered as “THE mineral foundation” and also yours truly swears to it. Amazing Base goes on smoothly and provides medium to full coverage, with just the slightest bit of shine that keeps it from looking flat. The 18 shades available in the States cover a wide range of light to medium skin tones ending around Mediterranean-looking Caramel and Latte, then to make an abrupt jump to the darker Butternut, Mink and Maple with a warm undertone. (Notice that different shades might be available in other countries as seen on chart). If you have darker skin, but with a slightly more neutral/cold undertone, check out the Bronze (2-5) shades of the Mary Kay Mineral Powder below.

Active ingredients:  Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide

Other ingredients – Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder: Mica • Boron Nitride • Zinc Stearate • Dimethicone • Stearic Acid • Plankton Extract • Algae Extract • Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract. Certain shades may contain: Iron Oxides (Ci 77489, Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499) • Ultramarines (Ci 77007) • Chromium Oxide Greens (Ci 77288)

Jane Iredale Amazing Base SPF20

has been rated the following:

5 out of 5 (expert review)

3.8 out of 5 (273 reviews)

*as of March 30th, 2018

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15: (from the top) Soft Porcelain, Tender Rose, Classic Beige, Natural Beige, Rich Vanilla, Real Sand, Pure Honey.

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15: (from the top) Soft Porcelain, Tender Rose, Classic Beige, Natural Beige, Rich Vanilla, Real Sand, Pure Honey.

II. Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15 is by many (including Paula Begoun and her team at Beautypedia) considered to be the best mineral foundation available. But while the mineral powder goes and stays on beautifully, it is also the line with the most limited range of shades. As it is quite impossible to find a color chart for Laura Mercier Mineral Powder, we went on to do a little research on this topic by reading hundreds of reviews on and other websites. Here women with olive or Asian skin have reported that Rich Vanilla is great for their darkest (summer-time) and Real Sand or Natural Beige for their lightest skin tone (winter-season). In a similar manner, women with tan skin are often between Rich Vanilla and Pure Honey. Women with medium skin and blond/light hair (and green or blue eyes) are usually between Real Sand and Classic Beige whereas those with darker hair and eyes will often match their medium skin somewhere around Rich Vanilla and Natural Beige. Women with fair skin can choose between Tender Rose (which has pink undertones – unlike the majority of the shades) and Soft Porcelain. The shade Warm Bronze is more meant as a bronzer rather than a foundation.

– For shades Natural Beige and Soft Porcelain:

Ingredients – Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15:  Mica • Pearl Powder. May contain: CI 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride) • CI 77947 (Zinc Oxide) • CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide) • CI 77491 (Iron Oxides) • CI 77492 (Iron Oxides) • CI 77499 (Iron Oxides).

– For all other shades:

Active ingredient:  Zinc Oxide.

 Other ingredients – Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15:  Pearl Powder. May Contain (+/-): Mica (CI 77019) • Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163) • Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891) • Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499). 

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15

has been rated the following:

5 out of 5 (expert review)

4.0 out of 5 (592 reviews)

*as of March 30th, 2018

III. Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation

Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation

Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation

Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation is and isn’t a “real” mineral foundation, depending on who you ask. Those against would point to the absence of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide in the formula and thus the lack of sun protection. Those in favor would point to the main ingredient being talc – which indeed is as much of a natural mineral as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. We choose to include Mary Kay on this list of the best mineral foundations due to its beautiful finish and the fact that it is one of the few main stream makeup lines which offer some great color options in mineral makeup for women with darker skin than plain old fair. The 12 shades include Bronze (1-5), Beige (0.5/1/1.5/2) and Ivory (0.5/1/2) – the numbers in brackets indicate the depth of the particular shade. Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation has less shine than most mineral foundations and provides light to medium coverage. Again, it was impossible to find a decent color chart (picture to the right is from Mary Kay’s Winter 2016 USA online catalogue) and reading reviews did unfortunately not provide much useful info.

 Ingredients – Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation:  Talc  • Zea Mays (Corn) Starch  • Zinc Stearate  • Dimethicone  • Boron Nitride  • Zeolite  • Methylparaben  • Sorbic Acid  • Ethylene/Methacrylate Copolymer  • Propylparaben  • Tetrasodium EDTA  • Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate  • BHT  • Iron Oxides  • Mica

Mary Kay Mineral Powder

has been rated the following:

5 out of 5 (expert review)

3.7 out of 5 (186 reviews)

*as of March 30th, 2018

IV. BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder SPF 15

BareEscentuals BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder Color Chart

BareEscentuals BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder Color Chart

First any confusion should be eliminated: (I.D.) BareMinerals is a part of BareEscentuals and vice versa (as the BareMinerals line has become so successful that it has almost overshaded the brand name of BareEscentuals). It started out with the Original BareMinerals Foundation, but since then a multitude of other mineral-based products has been introduced as well. Among these is the BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder SPF15, which we prefer over the Original because it has less shine – without being entirely matte (in spite of the name). The powder can provide medium to full coverage, but is not suitable for neither those with very oily skin (due to the shine) nor those with very dry skin (due to the formula with silica and calcium silicate). One of the main reasons that we included BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder on this list is because it has one of the broadest color ranges for women with darker skin tones.

 Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide • Zinc Oxide.

 Other ingredients – BareMinerals Matte Foundation Powder SPF15: Lauroyl Lysine • Silica • Calcium Silicate • Soil Minerals. May Contain: Mica • Titanium Dioxide • Iron Oxides

BareMinerals Matte Powder SPF15

has been rated the following:

2 out of 5 (expert review)

3.4 out of 5 (762 reviews)

*as of March 30th, 2018

V. L’Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation SPF 19

L’Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation: Available shades underlined on color chart

L’Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation: Available shades underlined (black) on color chart

L’Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation is the cheapest product on this list, but nonetheless it is actually a very good product which provides a natural look with just the slightest bit of shine. It works best for non-dry skin types and gives light to medium coverage, but the low-quality brush included is not worth using for anyone. Like the Laura Mercier mineral powder above, it is nearly impossible to find a color chart for L’Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation. However, by comparing color names, skin tone codes and color chart with the True Match Super-Blendable Makeup, we are quite comfortable pairing the following colors with their respective skin tone codes (in brackets); Buff Beige (N4), Classic Tan (N7), Creamy Neutral (C3), Light Ivory (W2), Natural Beige (W4), Natural Buff (N3), Natural Ivory (C2), Nude Beige (W3), Soft Ivory (N1), Soft Sable (C6) and Sun Beige (W6). On the chart to the right we have underlined the skin tones which are covered by the True Match Mineral Foundation – again there are not so many options for women with darker skin than fair-medium.

 Active ingredient:  Titanium Dioxide 10.0%

 Other ingredients – L’Oreal Paris True Match Mineral Foundation:  Boron Nitride • Kaolin • Isononyl Isononanoate • Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax • Calcium Gluconate • Manganese Gluconate • Magnesium Gluconate • Copper Pca • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice • Tocopherol • Panthenol. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide • Bismuth Oxychloride • Mica • Iron Oxides

L’Oreal True Match Mineral Powder

has been rated the following:

4 out of 5 (expert review)

3.3 out of 5 (206 reviews)

*as of March 30th, 2018

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  1. Hi, I want a mineral powder but I hate that shimmery look on my nc40/42 Indian skin tone…would you be able to suggest a shade for me.

    I want to try the Laura mercier can you tell me if this has that shimmery pearly look or it’s normal.


    • Dear Soni,
      the Laura Mercier foundation does contain pearl powder as the first ingredient in the shades which could be relevant for you, so I’m afraid that it might have that glow that you are not too fond of. I use the Jane Iredale Amazing Base which is more matte (without looking flat), so that might be something for you? The pressed equivalent PurePressed is even more matte (loose powders are often luminous). Jane Iredale also offers a much wider range of shades – check the shade chart under the product above to see where you might be at. Otherwise you might find a good match in the list of best pressed powders – for example with Pur or Glo Minerals or Nars? Hope I could be of some help. Best, Laura P.

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