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Comparatively Speaking: Pressed vs. Loose Powder
By: Anthony J. O'Lenick Jr., Siltech LLC, and Nick Morante, Nick Morante Consultants
Posted: August 7, 2012
page 2 of 2The use of a jet mill is preferred in pressed powder foundation to give the product its elegant feel characteristics. This will be evident by running a finger over the surface of the powder. The jet mill’s mechanism is a bombardment of particles against one another, resulting in a much smaller particle size (~1 micron) and a unique spherical shape. These properties contribute to feel as well as compaction and stability of the product. Powders that are jet milled have much better drop test results than conventional powders that are ground with a hammer mill or micro-pulverizer. These powders can have an irregular shape and are much larger (3-5 microns) than jet milled powders. These powders are also more difficult to press consistently because of this and drop test results can vary. Powder presses must be constantly adjusted to account for the differences in formula and high binder levels.
In all cases, powders may contain the same ingredients that contribute to feel and application. Many talc-free products have been introduced on today's market. Talcs are being replaced with natural materials or synthetic polymers. Some of these ingredients include polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), boron nitride (BN), various types and grades of silica (SiO2), various nylon powders, micas, sericites, etc. These ingredients are on many powder cosmetic ingredient labels at fairly high levels because of their unique feel, application and visual properties. Some provide a ball-bearing effect to provide a smooth glide when applying to the skin.
Pearls, mainly mica-based ingredients with titanium dioxide and colors, are widely used in powders for they coloring properties and visual effects. They exist in many colors and many particle sizes, but are at a maximum of 150 microns in eye products. They are all available from a number of sources. Other pearlized ingredients such as borosilicates are used in powders and are based on ceramic glass for their reflective, scattering and other unique visual effects.
Color, feel, application and special visual effects (and sometimes fragrance) along with long wear are the main properties behind all types of powders.