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Am I Allergic to Bare Minerals? Here’s How to Tell.

By Amalah

I have been reading your blogs on and off for a lot of years now. Sometimes I get a little too addicted to the Internet and have to make myself stop for a while. But I always come back. 🙂
Anyway, I have a question. It’s sort of time sensitive since it involves whether or not I am having a makeup reaction and should stop using it before my face falls off (but I know you receive zillions of e-mails and might not be able to respond right away–just thought it wouldn’t hurt to try asking you). I just recently purchased the Bare Minerals starter kit because I wanted something very light and natural. Confession: I am mostly a makeup virgin. Ok, I have worn it before. I have some makeup that I break out for special occasions. But no one ever really taught me how to use it well, and I never felt like I needed it. Now, I still don’t think I NEED it, but I have had makeup done on me (by salons, at Mary Kay parties, and so on), and I’ve seen how a nice, simple “routine” can make me look just a little fresher and feel just a little nicer. So I finally went to the Sephora store and got some goodies. But I digress. My point is that I’m new to being “serious” about all this stuff, and I want it to work. I know you recommend trying different things, but truthfully I don’t really have the money or the inclination to experiment with a ton of different things. I just want to find something that works, you know?
So I got the Bare Minerals. The salesperson put it on me the day I bought it, and I liked it just fine. No problems. Then I started reading your site and saw that some people had had reactions to it. I didn’t think much of it, but it was in the back of my mind, I guess. Yesterday I used the makeup, and toward the end of the day I noticed my left cheek was starting to look “brighter” than the right and my forehead was just a teeny bit weird-looking, sort of flushed but not really. About an hour later I washed my face and, sans makeup, noticed that both of my cheeks were very pink (my left more so than my right). Now, sometimes my cheeks do pink up a little, but I think this was different. They weren’t really itchy or irritated, but I remembered the “negative reviews” and started to worry. This morning my face looks “normal,” and I’m wondering whether I should keep trying the makeup. Was it just a fluke? Or am I setting myself up for a horribly irritated face if I keep going? I don’t want to assume things based on one experience, especially because maybe it was influenced by the negative info I had read earlier, but I don’t want to do bad things to my face, either. I couldn’t find info about the reactions people have had (am I just a bad Googler?) to see if this sounds like a reaction.
Also, I had to drive an hour to find a Sephora store, so returning/exchanging will be a pain. And then what do I buy? Because I can’t keep driving that far for makeup experiments. Please advise! Thank you.
(Oh, p.s. Skin care. Do you really need to do ALL the steps recommended–cleansing and toning and so on? I used to just cleanse and moisturize, but now they’re trying to sell me all this other stuff. I am so incompetent with this stuff that I am feeling lost, not wanting to get “taken” for lots of dollars but wanting to get things that will really be good/necessary.)

bareminerals.jpgThe important thing to remember about Bare Minerals — or any of the loose-powder “mineral” makeup clones on the market now — is that many of the “minerals” are actually finely finely ground metals and metal derivatives. Bismuth, iron oxides, titanium dioxide, stuff like that. Which is why, personally, I continue to be baffled as to how aggressively these kinds of makeups get marketed to people with sensitive skin. Sensitive skin types need to stick with foundations clearly labeled as hypo-allergenic, like Almay or Clinique. Mineral foundations are NOT hypo-allergenic, and I think the high number of reactions you hear about it simply because the stuff is being promoted and marketed to the wrong audience. (And don’t even get me started on the “BareVitamins” moisturizer that comes bundled in the starter kits, which is mostly salicylic and glycolic acids, and I think that little fact should be made MUCH CLEARER for dry- or sensitive-skin users.)
I’ve never classified my skin as sensitive when it comes to cosmetics — I’m classic combination, prone to an oily t-zone, blackheads and dry patches on my cheeks. I don’t get many bona-fide zits anymore, but my complexion is FAR from even-toned, so I really do need a decent amount of help from my foundation in order to look even and fresh-faced. And while I’ve been happy with my liquid foundation (Sue Devitt’s oil-free seaweed foundations — which are 70% water, extremely gentle and light, never made me break out AND did a decent job of hiding my splotches without ever looking cakey), I admit that I finally just HAD to see what the fuss was all about with Bare Minerals and purchased the starter kits.
While my face has never been particularly sensitive, I DO have skin allergies — although never from cosmetics! Think cheap jewelry. Nickel. Iron. Steel. And (this is weird) cold weather — I have cold urticaria, which means I get hives and other reddish irritations from the wind or sudden cool-downs on the surface of my skin (so I also get hives when my own sweat hits my skin).
So really, it was probably dumb for someone like me to even try Bare Minerals, especially after getting SO MANY STORIES from readers who experienced less-than-awesome reactions to it. But the mineral makeup is very much love it or hate it. For people with ivory, pinkish or freckled complexions, switching from liquid to loose, multi-faceted foundation can be life-changing. I imagine it would be fabulous for young, 20-something skin that just wants a touch of tint without a lot of coating. Plus, its crazy popularity means I naturally get tons of questions about it, and I figured I needed to try it out first-hand.
So I did. Like you, the first day or two were fine, reaction-wise. Although I honestly didn’t love the makeup — I couldn’t seem to apply it without spilling a fine coating of powder all over my bathroom counter, and I felt like I needed to use a LOT more than the video demos suggested. It felt kind of heavy on my face and settled into my fine lines and was really, really shiny by mid-day. If I applied less I could avoid the settling and the shine, but then I wasn’t really getting the kind of coverage I wanted — it was just like I’d used a pressed powder compact instead of real foundation, and that’s a makeup move I haven’t been able to get away with since high school. I also disliked what a MESS it always seemed to make, but that’s mostly my fault, because I’m more of a “sweep everything haphazardly in a drawer” girl and I forget to GENTLY set the makeup upright somewhere, thus I always have fourteen tons of excess on top of the sifter that poofs all over the place when I open it.
After a couple days I felt like I’d achieved more of a middle ground with the application (using a foundation primer first helped with the shine/slipping into wrinkles thing quite a bit), but…by this point I could no longer ignore the fact that my skin was ANGRY. I started noticing red patches on my cheeks and forehead, and my face had this vague itchy feeling a lot of the time. When I removed the makeup at night, I would get hives.
And then the really disturbing thing happened — the skin on my fingers started to crack and peel off in chunks. This is my cheap-jewelry allergy, which I first noticed in high school. Kind of like a form of contact dermatitis, with a weird eczema-like twist. I once got the specific kind of allergy/eczema diagnosed from a dermatologist, but I can’t really remember it anymore. Not that it matters — there isn’t much to do about it except avoid triggers, wash and moisturize my hands religiously, and apply topical cortisone cream when it gets really vicious.
And this reaction was indeed vicious. My fingers swelled, cracked, flaked and bled. I stopped using Bare Minerals and within three or four days my hands cleared up. A little more timid experimentation revealed that the Mineral Veil powder was the primary source of the reaction and responsible for the itchy feeling and hives on my face. I could use the other powders occasionally just fine, but if I wore it for several days in a row I’d pay for it with cracked finger skin for sure. (Weirdly, I could use the eye makeup without any problems — although I really only use it as eyeliner now, so we’re talking very small quantities.)
The redness and itchy feeling are probably the most common reactions I’ve heard from readers — some seem to get better after awhile, while others’ reactions get worse with regular use like mine did. It does sound like you had a mild reaction to the makeup, but no, I wouldn’t chuck the whole kit out based on one flare-up, which could realistically been caused by something else and was just a coincidence. Try using the makeup without the Mineral Veil (a “finishing powder,” which seemed to be just your average translucent loose powder to me, nothing special), or try applying a little less. And WASH THE BRUSHES.
If, however, you’ve had allergies to cheap metal jewelry in the past, or are prone to hives or other serious allergic reactions (think respiratory epi-pen type things), stop using it. Not worth it. Contact Sephora’s online customer service or Bare Minerals directly to see if you can arrange a return.
Since the Bare Minerals fiasco, I’ve tried a few other light foundation alternatives with some success. (The pregnancy “glow” has temporarily evened my skin tone out so I don’t need quite so much coverage.)
supernatural.jpgFirst up, Philosophy’s Supernatural mineral makeup. I originally planned on doing a head-to-head comparison of a bunch of different mineral makeups, but obviously nixed that idea fairly quickly. But I’d already purchased this one. Which, at first glance, is very similar to Bare Minerals. (Zinc, bismuth, iron oxides, etc.) So I was very hesitant to try it. I don’t know if it’s a different formulation or what, but I did not have AS strong a reaction to this stuff. I can’t use it everyday (the finger thing happens), but I think the packaging prevents you from using as much as the swirl-tap-buff application of the other mineral makeups. That said, this AIN’T for girls who want full coverage. If you want to really use this as an honest-to-God foundation, you’ll need to disassemble the spongey top and go in there with a foundation brush. (The spongey top also needs regular washing, which is annoying, but it gets gross and clogged if you don’t.) I like the built-in SPF and the lack of mess (you can TRAVEL with it! no little sifters to remove or tape over!), and would recommend this for anyone looking for VERY light coverage, especially if you already use mineral makeup but are looking to speed up your morning application routine.
And then there’s also Benefit’s Some Kind-A Gorgeous, which is…well. I’m not sure what it is. It’s a foundation faker. At first glance, it looks like stage greasepaint makeup, but it’s actually oil-free and feels like a powder once you’ve put it on your face. It’s only available in two shades (light and dark, take your pick), but is very sheer and natural-looking that I’d put this in the “plus” column, especially if you’re the type who gets intimidated when trying to pick the right shade of makeup from dozens of slightly-different bottles. It also makes a great eyelid base.
For anyone looking for a really good really real foundation, let me repeat (for what feels like the zillionth time) that Sue Devitt’s seaweed gel foundation is fantastic. It’s not like other liquid foundations at all — super light, won’t clog your pores, easy to remove and the whipped gel-like texture makes application (whether you use a brush or just your fingers) a total snap. There are two variations on this foundation — the stuff in a tall pump and the stuff in the small tub. The pump is the lighter option, while the tub offers fuller coverage. Infuriatingly, Sephora has stopped offering the brand in stores and online, but it is available many other places, from to Amazon.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • robin

    July 24, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I think part of the success bare minerals has had (ugh) is because for a lot of people they do not have a reaction until a month or so later, so you’ve already bought 10 products from them and then the redness shows. Everyone just buys into their claims about sensitive skin and I can’t believe they get away with it.
    There are a lot better (esp. for sensitive skin) products out there that are a lot cheaper :).

  • Julia

    July 24, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Sounds like an allergic reaction to me! I have heat related uticaria which sucks big time since I pretty much walk around all splotchy and hive-y from May-October. Hot showers and exercising make me look like a splotchy freak! I never found mineral make-up to provide enough coverage for my regular splotchiness.

  • Cassandra

    July 24, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I think it’s terrible that the Bare Escentuals line is being marketed so aggressively to those with sensitive skin. Hell, that “handy buki” brush is stiff and scratchy enough to rip the skin off your face sometimes.
    That being said, I absolutely love this line of makeup. I’m 23, and have super-breakout prone, oily-ick skin. It’s also very rough and tumble, if you will, and I have no reactions to anything. After I switched to this makeup, my skin really started to clear up, and it was able to provide the same amount of coverage as a regular foundation without feeling as if I had STUFF on my FACE all DAY. And it probably also helped that the stuff is applied with a brush, so I was touching my face a lot less.
    So, I think it’s a great idea if you have skin like mine (and if you do, I’m sorry) but if you’re at all sensitive… no go.
    And don’t sleep in it, for the love of all that is fluffy and adorable.

  • Amyella

    July 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I just wanted to chime in with what will hopefully be helpful to Gretchen. I was getting sick of liquid foundation and really wanted to try mineral make-ups but I had also heard mixed reviews (a lot them here!) I went ahead and tried Bare Minerals for myself and -ugh – itchy! I also have a nickel allergy and even the smallest earring made of cheap metal will have my whole ear swollen, red, bumpy and itchy.
    So that was a no go, but I didn’t give up. I researched and found Everyday Minerals and since they offer a free sample kit (free!) of any colors you like. I gave it a go. I have to say, I’ve had no problems at all. My skin is classic T-zone as well and I have a lot of broken capillaries around my nose (sexy!) but this give me pretty good coverage, even there.
    I also found this online:
    which compares Everyday Minerals to Bare Minerals and some of the reasons why EM might work for you even if BM doesn’t.
    Hope that helps!

  • Emily

    July 24, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Amy, just a quick note…no need for the quotes around minerals up in the first paragraph, metals are minerals!

  • Jess

    July 24, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I am 26 and with not sensitive skin, but certainly not tough skin and I have to say I really like the Bare Minerals. I was having a hard time getting the light to medium coverage for my dark under eye circles as well as covering what I”m refusing to admit is rosacea around my nose. I’ve had none of the reactions but agree that it’s probably not great for sensitive skin.
    That said I also am one that had horrible results with the Philosophy face wash that Amy (and so many others) love and went back to my BELOVED Proactive. My boyfriend, however, is now using Philosophy products with great results and I’m excited to try the Philosophy Mineral Foundation!

  • Melissa

    July 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Bare Minerals is definitely a love it-hate it brand. I have sensitive skin (although not allergy sensitive) and Bare Minerals works great for me in terms of coverage and break outs. Like a commenter above, my complexion has actually gotten better from using BM and I always get compliments when I go out. But great reviews aside, don’t mess with allergies…they will always win. 🙂

  • Critty

    July 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    There are soooo many people that can’t use mineral makeup, be it the bismuth, the fact is makes large pores look even larger, or that is slides off oily skin. Mineral makeup is ok for some, but not a cure all for everyone.
    And Amy – I have autoimmune urticaria – my body just started hating on itself 4 years ago – not fun! I can control it with lots of meds, a stash of epi-pens, a limited diet and avoiding nice things like the outdoors. Oh and reading every ingredient that goes on my face, body or hair.
    Critty 🙂

  • mary

    July 24, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I posted about Bare Minerals when I bought it a few months ago. I had a couple commenters saying they broke out not from the makeup itself, but from the BareVitamins.
    I love BM and my skin has looked better since using it. But makeup and skin care products are never going to work the same for everyone using them.

  • Erin

    July 24, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve never used bare minerals, but I have used Almay’s mineral foundation, and it’s not awful. Better as just a powder.
    Now, if you’re looking for something easy to use and no fuss, try the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer. It’s like a cross between foundation and tinted moisturizer, has spf 20, and some retinol too. My skin is oily, but my face is actually less shiny than usual at the end of the day. And you just smear it on with your fingers until it looks blended. I’m kind of in love with it.

  • StarHopper

    July 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    If you’re not used to makeup, try the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer. It’s like a cross between foundation and tinted moisturizer — just evens you out, so you can conceal redness without getting all masky. And there’s spf 20! Yay!

  • Miz Jawnson

    July 24, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Obviously I love Bare Minerals since I did the eye demos last year! I too have experienced itchiness, especially around my jawline. I figured out two things.
    First, I really needed to moisturize and start applying the make-up when my moisturizer was still damp. The drier my skin is, the itchier the make-up was. Of course, my itchiness goes away in 5-10 minutes, so it doesn’t bother me that much.
    Second, I too have problems with the Mineral Veil! They should reformulate it. I can’t use it in the winter really (see, dry = itchy). However! I’ve had great success with the FeatherLight Mineral Veil. That works much better for me.
    I’d offer to be the Test Subject for a mineral make-up Price Tag Cage Match, but sadly I can’t afford to invest in other make-up when I’ve got a carton of Bare Minerals at home.

  • Stephanie

    July 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I second StarHopper’s recommendation for the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer. I’ve been using it for quite sometime and I think it’s great. For those sort of cosmetics, I go the Neutrogena line all the way (3-in-1 concealer for eyes, Healthy Skin Loose Powder, SkinClearing oil-free concealor). It gives great light coverage (I have pretty good skin and freckles I don’t want to hide, just looking to even things out a bit), and is more reasonably-priced for the just trying things out stage. Plus, you can always find deals on it in drugstores.

  • Izzy

    July 24, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I think I’m allergic to Bare Minerals as it makes me want to claw my face off because of the ungodly itching. Oh and I have that contact dermatitis/eczema/cheap jewelry thing going on, too.

  • Nicole

    July 24, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Oh wow. Okay. That explains things. I have dry-normal skin (not to be confused with normal-dry skin), the occasional flare-up of eczema/dermatitis (allergic to cortisone too – that’s fun), a bit red sometimes when my seasonal allergies flare up, etc. etc. But generally good skin.
    I picked up a starter kit of Bare Minerals when we were in Chicago (along with some Stila eyeshadow – love the stuff and Sephora there is the only reason I’m considering going to Chicago over New Years with partner. Oh and Filene’s basement too). And quite honestly I love the stuff – the concealer is great, the bronzer/blush is great and the eye makeup is fantastic. Yet there is this vague, itchy feeling on my face. I now suspect its the mineral veil because I put that on and that itchy feeling starts immediately.
    I have noticed no other side effects mind you. No redness or anything, despite leaving it on all day.
    But I’m going to skip the mineral veil now (I’m just about out anyways) and see what happens. And now I will go wash my brushes.

  • Stephanie

    July 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

    If you get to exchange your Bare Minerals at Sephora, maybe try Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer. It’s got SPF, is very lightweight, and I’ve found that it gives you just enough coverage to even out your skin wihtout looking too “made up.” I’ve got pretty even, but very sensitive skin. I used Clinique religiously for years, then had my face “done: at the Laura Mercier counter during a shopping party and loved it. Not all the Sephora stores carry LM, but it’s available online.

  • JennyM

    July 25, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    I was going to suggest the same thing as Stephanie. I am in love with the Laura Mercier tinted-moisturizer with SPF, especially as it comes in a oil-free version. I use it as “foundation” and I’ve found that a little bit goes a looooong way, and the coverage is great (for me, anyway, ymmv). Anyway, it’s light and very natural looking and, again, the fact that it’s oil-free is great because I have fairly oily skin that gets gross pretty easily, so I stay way from anything heavy. The price may give you pause, but one tube really does last an insanely long time, like months, so I figure it all comes out in the wash, you know?

  • Suzy Q

    July 25, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I haven’t tried Bare Minerals but I did try the Maybelline version of it (way cheaper). It sucks. It seems to actually MAKE wrinkles on my face, even with primer!
    I have to say, though, I’ve seen the BM up close on a friend, and she looked great.

  • Eeek

    July 27, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I like the Laura Mercier mineral foundation and it also comes with a powder primer, if you need it.

  • Mel

    July 29, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I haven’t had trouble with Bare Minerals, but I thought I’d comment on the PS question since I also have somewhat sensitive skin.
    I’ve tried a few different regimens that include cleansing, toning, and moisturizing and I’ve found that my skin really reacts poorly to the toning. It gets very red and irritated. I’m not sure if that’s an issue common to all people with sensitive skin or if it’s just something I struggle with.
    I’m just using a Dove cleanser and moisturizer now and my face has no problems.

  • Danielle

    August 4, 2008 at 11:13 am

    You are so totally right with the one product does not work for everyone. Philosophy – I wanted to love it but couldn’t. I don’t know if it contributed or not but I ended up with huge cystic breakout for months that ended me up at the dr. talking about Accutane. And Sephora. It is good and bad. There are times I don’t like what they recommend. Once they pushed me onto a product line (Ole Henriksen made my face BURN, all day) just because the rep was there. Getting to my point…I use BE mineral powder. I have tried a few primers (Dr. Brandt, Smashbox, BE) and they don’t work for me. I really like mineral powder but the shine gets to be too much. Sephora girl told me the BE rep just told them if you get the burn apply MORE mineral veil. That just seems wrong! What I did end up finding which I really love is MAC Blot powder. Applied with a light touch it really does create a matte finish without a heavy layer. I also tried the Make Up Forever HD finishing powder and was not impressed.

  • Care

    August 11, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    I actually stumbled across this while looking for an appropriate face wash to use with my new Bare Minerals. It doesn’t feel as light as my Neutragina Healthy skin liquid foundation and I actually feel like I’ve had more break-outs since I started using BM less than a week ago. Since I heard only wonderful things about BM, I assumed it was the combination of my facewash and the makeup. I have the sensitive skin (alergic to nickle and other cheap metals) issues mentioned above, but haven’t had a “reaction” so to speak. It just feels a little itchy, actually slightly oily and totally gives my 20 something skin wrinkles I certainly don’t remember having before. My good skin just doesn’t seem “good” anymore… What a bummer that I bought it and tossed the box… guess that’s the price of experimentation -dang it!!

  • stephanie

    August 13, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Hi,I am African American, and finding makeup to match my dark skin can be so frustrating. I once tried BM, and I looked like an ashy fool. Years later,I was walking around Sephora and was seduced into trying BA once more, because they had expanded the color choices for women of color.
    My face was made up with foundation in dark, and with mineral veil. I loved it!! I purchased the product and went about my way. After 2 to 3 weeks, I started to experience ithching on my face. As I have asthma and allergies, I thought it was the animal hair brushes, and tossed them. Later, I developed acne like bumps on one cheek, and my forehead to which I am still trying to get rid of 3 weeks after stopping use.
    I am angry, because I told the sephora vendor that I had asthma and allergies, and had to be careful with what I put on my face. She went out of her way to tell me BA was the purest, kindest make up I could wear. Hell, she said I could even sleep in it. This was untrue!
    It is funny,I have never had an allergic reaction to my over the counter cover girl, iman, or cornstarch make up. Since sephora is pushing a product such as BA, they should be honest and forthcoming when someone tells them that they have allergies and asthma, since from what I have now learned, my allergic reaction has not been that uncommon with people with or without allergies

  • Tammy

    September 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I tried Bare Minerals and had a very bad allergic reaction. My skin was very itchy and when I washed the makeup off, I noticed red patches on my face. I woke up the next morning with a swollen face and my eyes were almost swollen shut. My face looked liked I had a bad sunburn and it was so itchy and dry. I was miserable. This lasted for almost a week. I have sensitive skin but never had a reaction like this to any other makeup. They should not advertise this mineral makeup as so good for your skin that you can sleep in it. The ingredients are not good for you. I’ll stick with my maybelline that I’ve been using forever and never had a problem.

  • maria

    October 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for setting my mind at ease. I have never had a skin allergy like the one I am experiencing right now. I wasn’t sure if it was my moisturizer, my tinted sunscreen or the bareminerals. My eyes lids have turned red, itchy and are soooo swollen. And my neck is red, itchy and blotchy. I want to scratch it off!!! I will not be buying any new BareMinerals products.

  • Jo

    October 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    I just figured out that bare minerals was responsible for my skin problems. I was recently diagnosed with perioral dermatitis, my dermatologist said it can be caused my some types of make-up, fluoride in toothpaste, and other undetermined causes. I feel so dumb that I didn’t realize the make-up was to blame. I’ve had painful burning rashes on my face, itching, tightness, and redness. I’m now on a two month course of antibiotics to clear up the problem. About a week ago I wore Bare minerals after not wearing make-up for a long time and my skin (which had bee improving thanks to antibiotics) exploded in a rash. I’m so disappointed, I loved how light it felt and how I could control the coverage. I’m also a little mad that it is marketed to people, like me, with sensitive skin.

  • Amy

    November 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I was just diagnosed with perioral dermatitis, and i use bare minerals. I never thought of the connection. just 3 weeks ago it started, i had been using bm for a year and a half. i think i am going to disconinue using it, and go back to mary kay. Very dissapointing.

  • Sara Rasmussesn

    November 11, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I’m trying to find out if anyone has developed blepharitis from using bare minerals. I have a serious issue with itchy eyes, granulation between the eyelashes, eyelashes that have gone ballistic with their growth and direction and also with them falling out. Anyone have any suggestions? My opthalmologist asked me if I had done anything different with my routine care etc. of which I couldn’t think of anything at that moment. I thought about it for a couple of days and it dawned on me that my itchy eyes started approximately a year and a half ago which was not too long after I started using the products. Help!

    • Stephanie

      February 3, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      I have blepharitis too. SUCKS.  My ophthalmologist said that it is hereditary and chronic, but I swear I got it, or it at least showed-up, because of bare minerals.  (Mascara specifically)  The best thing you can do is wash your lids with baby shampoo every night and put a hot washcloth compress on your lids for five minutes a day.  I’ve even heard some people say that cleaning your lids with the Wet Ones wipes helps. This has helped me tremendously.  I’m ready to start wearing makeup again.  Sorry to hear you joined the club 🙁  

  • Natalie

    November 12, 2008 at 11:36 am

    For me, my online research has shown that Bare Minerals and other products that contain Bismuth Oxychloride are causing this sunburn-like, dry raw itchy skin reaction that I experienced with both Bare Minerals and Cover Girl Mineral Makeups in many women. My experience was fine with Mary Kay’s Mineral Makeup. The difference between the two…Bismuth Oxychloride.

  • Remy

    November 13, 2008 at 2:39 am

    I moved to Hawaii from Las Vegas in December. My skin was normal in las vegas. Moving here my makeup fely to heavy so i switched to Bare Minerals. A few weeks later I started noticing these little bumps on my jaw mainly on the side and chin area of my jaw. They look like blackheads under the skin. I was wondering if this could be from the bare minerals. I have tried everything to clear it up acne meds everything and just clicked that it could be the makeup, Anyone have any suggestions or ever dealt with this??

  • Andrea

    February 11, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I have been a faithful Mary Kay user for years. A couple of my friends use Bare Minerials and they love it; they suggested I try it, so I purchased a kit from Ulta. I have extremely sensitive skin and I have learned that I have allergies to nickle.
    At first, I loved BM. It went on easy and felt great on my skin, but I noticed a “tightness” on my jaw line, so I just figured it was something I’d have to get use to. Well…..
    It has been only one week and I have stopped using BM. I have developed a horrid red rash on my neck and jaw line. My skin itches terribly and I still have a “tightness” feeling on my skin.
    I’m going back to Mary Kay….. Bare Minerals isn’t for me. You either love it or hate and I HATE IT!!!!

  • Cindy

    March 15, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I started using Bare Minerals in November. At first I was delighted with the results. I invested in a lot of the product. Then I started noticing huge problems with sinus difficulties–ears being blocked with congestion etc. I tried to think of things that were different in my daily living. I finally thought of my new makeup. This makeup is so fine and powdery—I concluded that I was concentrating on the process of properly putting this stuff on, that I was probably breathing a ton of those little particles in. Has anyone else has these problems with Bare Minerals?

  • Shellie

    April 19, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I started using Bare Minerals about 3 years ago and loved it. Especially the Bare Vitamins. My skin was just better when I used it. Period.
    I have been developing allergies over the past several years. It started with a scented soap and spread to shampoos and hair spray, mousse etc. It’s been annoying.
    Then last weekend I put on my make up, like usual and BAM. When I took it off I noticed that I had an itchy rash all over my face. I determined over the next couple of days that it was the Bare Vitamins that was doing it. After 3 years of use suddenly I’m allergic. So I tried using the make up without the Bare Vitamins and it was just as bad.
    I know things like this happen but it was so odd that after using the products for so long, one day I was not allergic then like magic, suddenly I am.
    I have no idea what make up to try next.

  • itchy

    April 19, 2009 at 11:19 am

    OMG!!! I was diagnosed with Excema 25 years ago and after much testing was able to determine the cause and eliminate the irritant. I have been struggling for about 9 months to 1 year with extremely dry skin that has finally escalated into my face being so red, itchy, swollen and covered in an awful rash–my eyelids are almost swollen shut. Diagnosis–another flare up of dermatitis or excema (that I had been able to control for 25 years). I am on my second round of prednisone. I am waiting until I can control the break outs so that I can go for allergy testing to determine what I am allergic to. The allergist is assuming a food allergy. I eat a very BLAND diet as it is and had pretty much eliminated everything that we thought might be the culprit. I am pretty much down to eating apples, bananas, and celery. It hasn’t improved! I was really getting worried. I recently spent over 100.00 on products recommended for excema to hydrate my skin. This morning my husband suggested my make up?!?! NO-I use bare minerals and they are all natural. Then I started thinking, this all started about the time I started experimenting with bare minerals. I remember the first time I used it the brushes felt so good on my skin but over time it now feels like I am putting my makeup on with a brillo pad. Also, 2 weeks ago we were on spring break and I wore absolutely no make up and had absolutely no problems at all. So to prove to him it couldn’t be the makeup I googled and ended up here. DUH!! It is probably the make up and I have been self inflicting this pain and discomfort on myself! We really couldn’t figure out why it was mostly the face, of course the itching would get so bad it would eventually be my neck, trunk, and arms. I have tossed all my BM and will be going back to makeup I had used for 25 years that I know will not cause problems. Hopefully this will take care of this problem!

  • Karen

    April 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I started using BM over a week ago. Immediately I got a sinus infection. I started antibiotics and after 5 days was getting worse!! I was trying to figure out why my sinus were still so inflamed and my face so swollen. I then put it together that this all started when I began to use BM. I unfortunately cannot use the product. I am sad because I really liked it. Has anyone else experienced severe inflamed sinuses and swollen eyes, face and clogged ears?? I know Cindy above had the same results.

    • Maria

      August 30, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Yes I had all the above, including clogged ears.

      Since I started using this I have had 6 sinus infections two of which have required a second course of antibiotics.

      I hope all of us can make a full recovery. I just worry that Bismuth Oxychloride may have permanently done something to our heath.

  • Anonymous

    May 2, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    I started using mineral pressed powder a week ago and now my skin is terrible! Its itchy, blotchy, dry and unbearable! The doc has given me ointments to settle the itchyness and I haven’t been wearing makeup ever since. I do not recommend mineral makeup at ALL.

  • Cheryl

    July 28, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I thought I was crazy….how could I have all of the head congestion from using BM??!!! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. I am highly allergic and have very sensitive skin. I too bought into the whole “safe” vibe. Thanks for the info.

  • Stephanie

    October 4, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    On September 15, I bought the Bare Minerals starter kit after being told by the saleslady that it was “great for sensitive skin”. I wore it the next day–no problems. On the afternoon of the 17th I started to feel what felt like hundreds of tiny bumps along my jawline. By Thursday night it was a nasty, burning, red rash all over the bottom half of my face. I tried to return the BM products on Friday the 18th and was told instead to try Bare Escentuals oatmeal cleanser (didn’t help). I have spent the past two weeks going from burning bumps to itchy red rash, then dry, scaly, flaky skin on 75% of my face (somehow my forehead is immune). It is now October 4 and I’m still trying to get rid of the rash. I wish I would have read this page first.

  • Adriana

    January 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    So this is a little werid, but after reading all this Bare Minerals stuff, I’m starting to think this may be my problem…I have woken up (several times) for the last six months with swollen lips. I have gone to every doctor you can think of to figure this out and no one know what it could be. I was given a topical steroid by my dermatologist to reduce the swelling, but as soon as I stopped using it, the swelling came back. Now that I am reading all this, BM may be the cause of my swollen lips. I have felt the ichty jaw line a few times but thought nothing of it, but now I am not so sure. Any suggestions of what to use in the mean time? I was going to try clinique or neutrogena products to see if the swelling goes away or at least decreases…anyway I lvoe bare minerals but if this is what happens after one year or more of using it, BM really needs to think about how they advertise their products… Thanks for the advice, will have to head to walmart and see what I can find to replace BM.

  • Mackenzie

    February 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I bought a BM starter kit in September and shortly after I began to get multiple painful bumps around my chin. I thought that I might be getting acne for the first time in my life, which is wierd because I’m 20 and I never broke out before. But the “pimples” never came to white heads and they did not respond to multiple acne products that I tried. I stubbornly continued to use BM until Christmas, at which point it had gotten so bad that I went to a dermatologist. The bumps were large enough that it was often painful to move my mouth, and what had started out as 2 had grown to about 5 or 6. The dermatologist told be that it was not acne, but perioral dermatitis, a bacterial infection under the skin around the mouth. The only thing that we could link it to was the BM. I have been taking 2 months worth of erythromycin which has successfully cleared up my skin, but I have been left with some dark scarring that is difficult to cover up with the new makeup that I am using (Makeup Forever liquid). I’m sure that BM works great for many women, but it’s caused me a lot of trouble.

  • Stacy

    March 6, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I have exzema but not on my face. I have been using BE for a few years now. But, I noticed last year that I started getting a rash and my cheeks would turn red after I washed the makeup off. I thought it was just my skin, but I never thought it was the makeup until this year when I barely wear it. But, when I do wear it I break out with this rash along my chin and no matter what I do, it seems to take like months to go away. I even got a ear infection when I first started using it years ago but never thought about that being the culprit until now. Now that I found all these complaints about allergies to the makeup, I need to find a different makeup and spread the word.

  • Stacey

    March 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Wow, I’m so glad I found this site. I have been having an alergic reaction for 6 months now. Mine is a red rash with white blisters focused around my mouth and eyelids. I also have painful, burning, dry lips. I have been through 3 courses of steroids, and allergy testing that revealed I’m allergic to Quaternium 15 and Nickle. The doctor disregarded the Nickle allergy & focused on the Quat 15. So I’ve replaced EVERY product I use EXCEPT my bare minerals make up…why? My dermatologist actually recommended I quit using Sheer Cover makeup & use Bare Mineals because it’s the most natural & best for sensitive skin. Now that I read all of this, especially combined w/ my Nickel allergy, I think it’s got to be the makeup. I’m switching right away & writing a “thanks a lot” letter to my doctor for recommending it!

  • Megan

    April 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    For anyone who likes the BM makeup look but had a reaction, you can try their matte foundation. I too had a reaction that started with itching and then my face appeared sunburned it was so red. After reading about the possibility of the bismuth oxychloride in the original foundation causing it, I switched to the matte foundation as it doesn’t contain this ingredient. I am even able to wear the mineral veil on top of the foundation without reaction. Wish they would remove the yucky ingredients from everything, though…

  • sharny

    May 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I used Bare Minerals for one day, I thought it was great at first but then later that same day I noticed a few bumps appearing under my skin, I washed my face and moisturised but the next morning I had the bumps all over my face and neck, swollen eyes and it was itching like crazy – been using antihistimines since but it is still not better a week later. I am furious a product marketed as good for skin can do this, I am just glad I found out after one use and was able to get a refund, I just hope no lasting effects. Wish I had seen this page first but it never occurred to me a product like this would cause such severe reactions.

  • Shari Serra

    June 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    After 7 years I no longer use bare minerals, I had a small fan in my bathroom that I used while putting on my makeup . The darn thing quit running so we shook it and you would not believe how much bare minerals came out! I had enough there to fill one of the jars. The stuff goes everywhere .. It’s horrible. I know with that much stuff fling around you can’t help but breathe it in. I will miss BM , but my asthmatic lungs sure wont. Something for everyone using this stuff to think about.

  • Shelly

    April 8, 2014 at 3:53 am

    I also tried bare minerals make up the starter kit. I have noticed problems with my lungs since I started using the products and put this all together it is the makeup causing upper respitratory problems . I am done still trying to get better developed a terriable cough itchy throat and lungs. Hope I get better soon will never use this again, glad I only used for a short time but long enough to cause problems in my health.

  • Anna

    May 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Have been using Bare Minerals original foundation for about a month now after being told by the sales person it would be perfect for my sensitive skin. Last week I noticed little red dry patches under my eyes, so stopped wearing the makeup on those areas, but still wearing it on the rest of my face. The red dry patches seem to be getting worse, spreading to eyelid and have become really itchy, my eyes are also really puffy, swollen and watery and i look horrible. So i’m no longer going to wear this makeup anywhere and hopefully my reaction will go away!!

  • Anna

    May 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Found this online which might explain some of the reactions people are getting. It seems its from the Bismuth Oxychloride in Bare Minerals.

    ”You’ve worn traditional makeup for years. You had very little or no irritation. After hearing about the benefits of mineral makeup, you decide to give it a try. It is supposed to be so much better for your skin and healthier overall, so what’s the risk? You make your first purchase and start wearing it immediately. 

    Except… you’re having a reaction you’ve never had before to makeup. Your skin may be itching, irritated, red, having small bumps, pustules, burning or looking swollen. A few weeks later you have acne. What is this? How can mineral makeup cause such an extreme reaction? n

    That reaction is likely caused by the ingredient bismuth oxychloride. While bismuth oxychloride is a common ingredient in both traditional and mineral makeup, problems with the ingredient have surface in mineral makeup because it is made with much higher concentrations. There are a lot less fillers in mineral makeup as compared to traditional cosmetics (talc, mineral oil, aluminum powder, alcohols and parabens), so the few ingredients left, most times including bismuth oxychloride, make up more of the recipe. 

    What Is Bismuth Oxychloride?

    Bismuth oxychloride is an inorganic white pigment. If you look on the periodic table of elements, you’ll notice plain old bismuth with an atomic number of 83. The symbol is Bi. It neighbors lead, tin, antimony and polonium on the periodic table. Heavy Metals. Bismuth does occur naturally in the earth, but in very small amounts. Most of the bismuth produced in the USA is as a by-product from refining lead, tin, copper, silver and gold ores. Bismuth without refinement is not safe for use in cosmetics. To make it safe it must be refined and combined with other elements to produce bismuth oxychloride. Certainly not “Natural” as most companies claim. 

    Once the bismuth has been collected, it is further refined through several stages to remove dangerous elements like lead. Then it is chlorinated, which gives us bismuth chloride (BiCl3). In this stage it still poses a dangerous risk, smelling of hydrochloric acid. When bismuth chloride is combined with water, it decomposes and part of the chlorine is replaced by oxygen from the water. This process is called hydrolysis and the end result is Bismuth Oxychloride. 

    Is It Safe To Use?

    The FDA has approved bismuth oxychloride as a safe product to use in products for the face, eyes, lips and nails. Not only is it very common, but it is a very popular ingredient in both traditional and mineral makeup. 

    However, skin irritation from bismuth oxychloride is not unusual. According the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for bismuth oxychloride, there is a risk of it being a potential irritant to humans when it comes in contact with the skin or eyes. 
    When bismuth oxychloride is purchased from countries with less stringent laws the chance for health risks are increased. So, it is important that companies spend a little more money and buy from highly regulated countries, like the US and Canada. 

    Why Is Bismuth Oxychloride Used In Makeup? Is it used in makeup because it gives the makeup a silky feel & has good slip (this means it applies well to the skin) and good adhesion, which helps it stay on your skin. It feels smooth and silky when rubbed between the fingers. It is often described as a lustrous crystalline powder. It refracts light and that helps draw attention away from, and camouflage, fine lines, wrinkles and minor discolorations. A great selling point for makeup! This all sounds great, but is it? Below we are going to break down these so called “benefits” of bismuth oxychloride to provide further insight on why it is used. 
    Silky & Good Slip
    When you touch bismuth oxychloride it feels silky smooth and most consumers love the feel of silky smooth! When you look at bismuth oxychloride on a microscopic level, it has a crystalline shape. It has sharp edges and as you apply it on your face it makes tiny micro cuts and scrapes in your skin. It has good slip or adhesion because in theory it ruffs up your skin, cuts you and basically lodges its self into you. Most likely this is why so many people have irritation from bismuth. Imagine how many consumers worldwide that do not have any irritation problems, but are still probably hurting the skin.
    Light Refracting
    As we mentioned above, when light is refracted from your face it helps hide your flaws. This is the 2nd major reason why companies need bismuth oxychloride in their minerals. They have not figured out how to properly formulate a mineral makeup that will actually cover up your flaws. So instead they are using a potentially harmful product to trick you from seeing your flaws which in the end works very well to hide imperfections and make you look good. In the long run I can’t imagine this being good for your skin.”

  • Maria

    August 30, 2014 at 5:42 am

    one TIP to help your skin post BareMinerals:

    For those trying to recover I have found one thing that may help: EPSOM SALT.

    1) Soak your skin in it >> for me this helped get rid of dry flakes
    2) Dissolve one tea spoon in a cup of warm water and use it as a toner >> for me this helped with the itching though it might sting for a minute or so
    3) Gently scrub with it >> only after your has completely stopped being red and angry

    Epsom Salt opens the pores allowing the metal particles that are causing your reaction to exit faster. Do not scratch (easier said than done) and do not push the metal particles further into the pores.

    In my view cortisone only works AFTER the metal has exited the skin during the healing process. While the metal particles are STILL in the pores nothing can help. It is like having a knife in your leg and taking pain killer at the same time.

    I bought one BareMineral blush last year. I used it for 4-6 months.

    Symptoms during use:
    severe eczema on the face, neck and chest including large itchy blisters that look like cystic acne but are not, inflamed and blistery eyelids, asthma, ongoing sinus infections, coughing.

    Symptoms post use:
    extreme dry, flaky and itchy skin, flaking eyelids, sinus infection and asthma.

    For me it took 6 months before I started to look and feel normal. So the recovery is slow because skin has to naturally expel the Bismuth Oxychloride from the skin. So be very patient.

  • Liz

    April 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    But the Sue Devitt foundation you are recomending has Octyl Palmitate, high in the ingredient list. Thats a very comedogenic ingredient.

  • Antonela Ferreira

    September 9, 2015 at 5:27 am

    I bought a kit of mineral makeup “Nude by nature” and since the first day my skin is itching, red and burning! Terrible!

  • Angie

    January 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    I have really bad sensitive skin and tried everything and this loose power from bare essentials is the only thing that doesn’t break me out.

  • Maria

    March 5, 2016 at 12:40 am

    My eyes are terribly swollen and I have a pictures of a reaction to bare minerals I went to two different doctors and after a month of not using products, being on steriods and creams. bare minerals swelled my eyes to the point of finding blood spots on my pillows. I never had problems with anything I ever used.