What Is Mica Powder: Synthetic vs. Natural Mica Powders

what is mica powder - mica powder on hands yellow and purple

Looking for a non-toxic, natural coloring dye for DIY projects or your next cosmetics creation? Consider mica powder! 

Mica powder is a versatile colorant for arts and crafts projects, epoxy resin crafts, soaps and cosmetics. Just a teaspoon of this natural mineral can add shimmer, sparkle and vibrant color to any project. Unfortunately, it’s not as widely known as other industrial colorants like dyes. 

We think that should change. That’s because mica powder is: 

  • Natural 
  • Non-toxic 
  • Free of heavy metals 
  • Available in hundreds of dazzling colors 
  • A source of natural shimmer 

You might be wondering: What is mica powder exactly? And what is it used for? This guide features everything you need to know about mica powder, with tips and ideas for how you can use it in your next project. 

Need some inspiration? Check out the Quickstart Mica Guide for project ideas and tips.

What Is Mica Powder & How Is Mica Powder Made?

Mica is a colored powder that’s made from a natural mineral called muscovite. Muscovite is a silicate mineral, in the same family as quartz. Before it’s processed, mica comes out of the ground in large pearlescent sheets or flakes, which have a naturally shimmering, iridescent property. 

Mica flakes are ground into a fine powder, which is usually an off-white or khaki color. Natural oxides are then applied to the mica with heat to transform it into a vibrant color. Mica powder can also be made from the lab-created version of the muscovite mineral, which is called fluorophlogopite.

Natural vs Synthetic Mica Powder: Key Differences

Natural mica is mined muscovite, which is prized for its glittery appearance. Synthetic mica, on the other hand, is made from natural minerals, but is created in a lab. The result is a mineral called fluorophlogopite, which mimics the shimmering effect of natural mica. Key differences between natural and synthetic mica include: 

  • Color purity - Synthetic mica has a higher purity, and therefore bolder, more consistent colors are possible.
  • Particle size - Synthetic mica is smoother in texture. Therefore, it’s a popular choice in cosmetics like eyeshadow and lipstick.
  • Mining - Some prefer synthetic mica to natural mica due to the environmental and mining practices. Because natural mica is mined in poverty-stricken areas, there are concerns over child labor practices. (Note: All of our natural micas are ethically sourced. See FAQs to learn more.) 

Mica FAQs: Everything to Know About Mica Powder 

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about mica powder:  

What’s the difference between mica powder and pigment powder? 

Pigment powders are either natural or synthetic colorants used in art projects. The biggest difference between mica and pigment powder is in appearance. Pigments have a matte finish, whereas mica adds color along with a natural shimmer. 

What’s in mica powder made of? 

Natural mica powder is made from mica minerals, typically muscovite (although there are about 30 different types of mica minerals). The muscovite is ground into a fine powder, and mixed with natural oxides to color the powder. Synthetic mica is made similarly, but the base mineral is lab-made fluorophlogopite.

Where does mica powder come from? 

The majority of mica is mined in India. In fact, more than half of all mica originates in two Indian regions: Bihar and Nellore. Countries like Belgium, Brazil and China also produce mica and mica powders. 

What is ethical mica powder? 

Ethical mica refers to mica that’s sourced from mines which do not rely on child labor and explotative practices. Because mica originates in areas of extreme poverty, illegal mines can and do rely on child labor. That’s why when shopping for mica powder it’s vital to source from ethical suppliers. 

All Slice of the Moon mica powders are child labor free. We work with organizations to verify that every step of the supply chain, from the mine, to manufacturing, is free of child-labor or exploitative practices. 

Is mica powder considered natural? 

Natural micas are made from naturally occurring minerals, which are ground down, and tinted with tin or iron oxide or dye. Therefore, for most natural micas, all of the components can be found in nature. Browse our selection of natural mica powders.    

Synthetic mica powder is different. Synthetic mica is created from a lab-made mineral, fluorophlogopite, which has similar chemical properties to muscovite. Synthetic mica isn’t mined, and it tends to have a smoother texture and higher color purity than natural mica. See our synthetic mica powders

Is mica safe? 

Mica powder is prized for cosmetics, as it is non-irritating, skin-safe and non-toxic. However, because mica is a fine dust, long-term inhalation can cause lung scarring and other respiratory ailments. Always use a mask when working with mica powder. 

What Is Mica Powder Used For? 

DIYers, artists, soapmakers and cosmetics makers all use mica powder to add color and shine in their work. Really, there are numerous ways to use mica powder. Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • Use mica as a colorant 
  • Add shimmer with mica powder
  • Swirl colors in soaps and epoxy resins
  • To finish paper crafts and projects 
  • To create custom paint colors 
  • For coloring cosmetics 
  • Use mica to color epoxy 

  • There are really endless uses for mica powder in arts and crafts projects, in soap making, epoxy/resin craftsDIY cosmetics and for creating custom paint colors. (See our guide: How to Make Watercolors with Mica.)

    Shop Our Mica Powders Now 

    Get started using mica powder! Read our Mica Quickstart Guide for some tips. We offer a wide range of vibrant micas and glow-in-the-dark pigments that are perfect for a wide range of projects. 

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