If you would have ever told me that I would fall in love with a powder foundation, I would’ve told you that you’re nuts. Now, look at me! I swear by this Black-owned brand that I was introduced to only two weeks ago and I cannot stop myself from raving about it whenever someone compliments how airbrushed my face looks.
The weekend before Mother’s Day, I was invited to an exclusive launch event in New York City for The Good Mineral. While I had no idea what the brand was, I was excited to learn more during the brand’s interactive brunch and masterclass experience. When I arrived at Maman Soho Garden, I was personally greeted by co-founder Ego Iwegbu, who walked attendees through an IRL makeup demonstration. We were presented with cute pink boxes with our names on it and once we opened them, each box contained a Jumbo Brush, a Mineral Powder Highlighter, a Mineral Bronzer Powder, two Blush Boost powders, and their raved-about loose powder foundation. I knew this was going to be a fun morning! Who else can say they drank a matcha green tea latte in the floral backyard of a brunch cafe while trying out a new beauty product in front of a gifted LED-light mirror?
To our surprise, each of us had already been color-matched through a deep dive of our social media accounts to find our perfect shade and undertone for their 3-in-1 Loves You Back Powder Foundation. I was originally matched for Caramel 4 and Coco 1, probably because I had just come back from a sunny vacation, but once I was properly matched with Caramel 3, I was instantly in love. It looked just like my skin but airbrushed. With the help of the Iconic Flat Blending Brush, I was able to stipple (not brush) the powder right onto my face without creating a mess and using minimal product application just to hit my most oily spots.
Normally, I shy away from powder foundations because I look for coverage and powder foundations that I’ve tried have never given me that. As soon as I wore The Good Mineral for an entire afternoon out on the town, I was sold. The makeup translated so well on camera with zero flashbacks, my skin felt lightweight as if there was no makeup on it at all, and I didn’t even need a setting powder to keep it all in place. Did I forget to mention that The Good Mineral’s foundation product is sunscreen, too? Talk about minimizing your makeup routine!
“We hope to basically inspire women, especially women of color, to understand that they don’t need 15 layers of makeup to feel and look their best. We want to inspire women to understand that they can dab and match their well-groomed hair and nails to a really groomed face that still looks like them rather than overdoing it when you don’t need that,” co-founder Ego Iwegbu told me about the concept behind The Good Mineral. “The message is ultimately if you need coverage, if you want to tidy up your look, you don’t have to lose track of yourself in the process. You should enjoy the application. You don’t have to be a makeup artist to do it, and you don’t have to put stuff on your skin that’s not good for you all in the name of coverage. Every ingredient is super clean and minimal so you don’t put any unnecessary chemicals on your skin.”
During a second lunch meeting in the city, when she also generously did my makeup between courses at The Smith Hotel, I had the opportunity to get to know Ego for ESSENCE as we talked about the origin story of The Good Mineral, the common misconceptions and myths about powder foundation, and her hopes for the growth of the brand.
ESSENCE: Tell me about how The Good Mineral got started and your working relationship with your sister Natasha.
Ego Iwegbu: Natasha formulated all the powders years ago and basically, I have turned them into a business by introducing them to our salon clients. We have a lot of clients in the salon and they were our first test run. They absolutely loved the product so much that we sold out and we kept on selling out. Natasha kept on mixing more and we kept on selling out. It got to a point where it became clear that there was a real business here and we needed to take it to another level, so we did.
We found real manufacturers; we found better packaging because people complained our initial packaging was quite messy; we found better pricing for the production of the product and the logistics. We ended up getting into quite a large chain of stores in South Africa and doing exceptionally well there. That’s when we caught the eye of venture capitalists. Based on how well we’ve done in South Africa and my experience in business as an entrepreneur, they invested in the launch of The Good Mineral in the US. In 2020 in the depths of COVID and lockdown, we signed the deal for the investment and in August 2021, we managed to bring it to market, D2C, online.
ESSENCE: What inspired the creation of The Good Mineral products?
Iwegbu: The inspiration came from the desire to have makeup that A, matched your skin tone, and B, felt light and didn’t feel like a mask. My sister Natasha was getting married and she went out looking for the makeup for her wedding and was faced with really thick, heavy products and couldn’t understand why she had to look so made up when she just wanted a nice, natural look. Everywhere she continued to look, she couldn’t find anything that was going to give her the look that she wanted. Being a scientist and a cosmetic chemist, she decided that she was going to make it herself. She approached the formulation process like an elimination diet as in took everything out and said, “Okay, what do I need for coverage? What do I need for the light? What do I need to take out to make it light? What do I need to put in to give the color?” It was a very sort of scientific way of doing it and that’s how she started the process.
I think that the massive advantage of her not being a typical manufacturer in a lab meant that she didn’t have any preconceived formulation ideas about what a foundation is supposed to have. Sometimes in the labs, they just start off with a basis like, “Every foundation has this, this, this, this, and this in it.” She, on the other hand, didn’t have that. She just thought, “Look, I want something from my face. I want coverage, I want a bit of color and I want it to stay light.” Because of that, she wasn’t tarnished with a back stereotypical formulation for the foundation. That’s why we call we chose the alchemy symbols for the logo because it was like alchemy turning something, simple ingredients, into something extraordinary. Basically, nobody else has done it that way.
ESSENCE: One thing I really love about your products is that you have something for everybody. As Black women, we come in so many different undertones – pink undertones, neutral, warm, cool. Why was it so important for you and your sister to include the various undertones in your products?
Iwegbu: Well, what’s the point of creating a foundation if you’re not going to give these beautiful options for every woman? Natasha started off by formulating for her shade and my shade. Once she got that right, she would literally stop women on the street to get a color match, to get them to sit for her for eight hours to shade match them for the product. She built the formulations for the product from scratch for every tone. When you say undertones and all of that sort of stuff, the product was created on actual skin rather than on a piece of paper or in a lab or using Pantone colors, which are never right. She actually formulated it from the skin.
ESSENCE: What made you go with a powder formula as opposed to the stereotypical liquid or cream formulas?
Iwegbu: Liquid and creams immediately require preservatives. As soon as you put aqua into anything, it can grow bacteria. The thing about a loose powder is that it’s inorganic and doesn’t grow bacteria, which means it doesn’t need a preservative. Less is more, less ingredient gives better coverage [and] gives less dilution. The powders are concentrated pigments of color rather than filled with preservatives, talc, and all sorts of other fillers that bulk it out unnecessarily. That’s why you get so much color in every drop of powder. One of Natasha’s biggest desires was that she wanted each gram of powder to have the power to do what it’s meant to do, which is to create coverage but without weight.
ESSENCE: What are the most common misconceptions about powder foundation?
Iwegbu: People ask the question, “Is it going to dry out my skin?” No, it’s not going to dry out your skin because it doesn’t contain talc or fillers that literally soak up oils. However, the Coco shades and the Caramel shades do have kaolin clay to allow for a bit of oil absorption in them because most women of color have oiliness in their skin. The Beige shades don’t have kaolin clay in it. The Coco shades don’t have titanium dioxide in them because they cause white flashbacks on deeper shades. Everything was designed specifically for the actual skin.
The other misconception is that that powder can’t give you coverage. That’s because you’re thinking of some kind of a talcy powdery thing. Our product is an actual foundation. It’s a three-in-one – it’s a concealer, a foundation, and a powder. Those three steps of applying concealer, blending it in, applying foundation, rubbing it out, and then powdering everything to just firm it down and set it are not required. You get that coverage because there are no fillers, there’s no dilution in the powder, and you’ve got real concentrated pigments in there. The important thing is to use the flat blending brush and press the powder down and not sweep it and drag it around the face. If you want real coverage on a particular area, it’s always best to just press the powder down.
ESSENCE: The process of your products is so minimalistic. What was so important to you and your sister about minimalizing a makeup routine from 10 to 15 steps, to just giving us the most necessary products?
Iwegbu: I have severe to moderate acne and, I’ve lived with acne most of my life. Certainly, during the years that Natasha was formulating the makeup, which took her over five years to formulate, the idea of putting a lot of products on your acne or on your eczema was not ideal. People with acne, sensitive skin, eczema, and things like that also need and want coverage, and you’ve got to think about those people. When you say minimal, each powder is undiluted, which means that you get the maximum effect from minimum harassment of the skin. Don’t agitate your skin and don’t put too much on and you just look better and feel better and you get great confidence.