Mica powder is a group of silicate minerals that are made up of layers or flakes that are ground down to very fine powder. Mica is known for its shiny and sparkling appearance, which is where it gets its name, the word ‘mica’ comes from the Latin word “micare” which means “to sparkle or glitter”. There are 37 different types of mica minerals in total. The commercially important micas are muscovite and phlogopite, which are used in a variety of applications.
Natural Mica vs Synthetic Mica
Mica can be mined from the ground (natural mica) or it can be made in the lab (synthetic mica).
Natural mica is a mineral that is mined from the earth. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in various parts of the world, including North America and India. Natural mica is ground down into a fine powder and coloured to be then used in a wide range of cosmetic and industrial products.
‘Natural’ mica is something of a misnomer, because after the mica is mined, it is coloured in a lab. So while it is of natural origin, there is no such thing as a truly ‘natural’ mica. The preference for natural mica often boils down to cost. Natural mica is cheaper to produce than synthetic mica.
Synthetic mica, on the other hand, is created in a laboratory. It is manufactured using a combination of ingredients, the result is a mineral called fluorophlogopite which mimics the shimmering effect of natural mica. Synthetic mica is usually more expensive and more consistent in colour and quality and is often brighter and more vivid in colour. Synthetic mica contains fewer impurities and is a more regular shape without the sharp edges of natural mica.
Controversy over natural mica
In recent years, there has been some controversy about the use of child labour to obtain mica, and many companies have moved away from using natural mica in preference of synthetic mica.
Our natural mica is ethically sourced
We sell both natural and synthetic mica, because people tend to have a preference for one or the other. Some people prefer to use ‘all natural’ ingredients in their products, and therefore require natural mica. We only stock and sell ethically sourced mica where NO child labour has been used in obtaining the mineral. See our FAQs for more information. Others prefer the purity and vibrance of synthetic mica, and the guarantee that the product is ethically made
What is mica used for?
Mica powder is used as a colouring agent and can be used for a wide range or purposes, most commonly:
- Cosmetics: Mica powder is often used in makeup, particularly in mineral makeup, as a natural alternative to synthetic pigments. It can be used to add shimmer and sparkle to eyeshadows, blush, and lip products. Note that not all micas are safe for use on the skin, check for cosmetic grade micas.
- Painting: Mica powder can be added to paint to create a metallic or iridescent finish. It is also used as a pigment in making art and crafts.
- Soaps and candles: Mica powder can be used to add color and shimmer to soaps and candles.
- Industrial applications: Mica powder is used as a filler and insulation material in the manufacturing of electrical components, as well as in automotive and aerospace parts.
- Epoxy and Resin projects: Mica powder is widely used in epoxy and resin projects, such as making coasters, Jewelry, and other decorative items.
- Nail art: Some people use mica powder to create special effects on nails, such as a metallic or glittery finish.
In terms of arts and crafts, there are truly endless ways to use mica. You are limited only by your imagination. Mica is inexpensive, and even more affordable when you buy one of our sets.
What’s the difference between mica powder and pigment powder?
Technically mica powder is a kind of pigment powder. But the meaning of ‘pigment powder’ in general usage usually refers to either natural or synthetic colourant powders that have a matte finish. Mica powder, on the other hand, is a fine powder that always has a shimmery finish. How shimmery depends on the particle size. There is more informaiton on the difference between mica powder and pigment powder here.
Is mica powder safe?
In short, yes, mica pigment powder is very safe. Mica powder is very commonly used in cosmetics and bath and body products as it is non-irritating and safe to use on the skin. Not all mica is cosmetic safe, however, so it is very important to check. All our mica powders are cosmetic safe, unless listed as otherwise.
It’s very important to always wear a mask when working with mica powder, as inhaling the fine powder can cause damage to your lungs.
We stock a range of mica powders, in different particle sizes for different amounts of sparkle and sheen. We have a wide range of mica pigment powders in many different colours. As well as a range of specialty pigments including chameleon powders, super chameleons and interference powders (also called ghost pigments)
Show our mica collections now: