Mineral Colorants - What is mica?

Posted by Michelle Neathery on

Let's set the record straight about mica! There's been some confusion, but we're here to clear it up and spread some good news about this amazing mineral. First off, mica used in cosmetics can either be naturally mined or lab-made synthetics. While some people may think that lab-made mica is cheaper or purer, that's simply not true. Both options have their advantages.

Naturally mined micas are typically less expensive, while synthetic mica - also known as fluorphlogopite - is a bit pricier. But don't let the cost scare you away from synthetic mica, because it's actually superior in many ways! Synthetic micas are brighter, more pure, and have superior color clarity. 

Now, you might be wondering if naturally mined mica colors are natural. The answer is yes and no. In its raw uncolored state, mica is an off-white mineral with brownish tones. To achieve bright colors, pigments are applied to the mica using heat. These colors are lab-made and are not natural, but they're often made to be nature-identical. And that's a good thing! The FDA has strict standards for color additives in cosmetics, so using lab-made pigments helps us meet those standards and ensure the purity of our products.

Speaking of standards, the FDA defines natural mica as a white powder obtained from the naturally occurring mineral, muscovite mica. There's no definition or regulation for synthetic mica at this time, but that doesn't mean we can just use any old thing. Synthetic mica must still contain FDA-approved color additives to be considered cosmetic grade. Mica is in things like eyeshadows, highlighters, and lip gloss.

One advantage of synthetic mica is that we can have more variance in micron size and mica use in cosmetics. Naturally mined mica is not approved for use in cosmetics at a micron size higher than 150, but synthetic micas may be used at any size. That's definitely something to celebrate!

We hope this clears up any confusion about mica and the different types available. Whether it's naturally mined or lab-made, mica is an amazing mineral that helps us create beautiful and safe products. So go ahead, sparkle and shine with confidence!

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