What is Mica? What Do We Use It For And How Is It Sourced?

What is Mica?

Mica is a group of minerals of similar physical and chemical properties. They are one of the most well-known sheet silicates. 37 different varieties of mica are found among sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. The perfect cleavage into thin sheets is the most distinctive characteristic of mica. The name “mica” comes from the Latin word “Micare” to mean sparkle and shine and the minerals have gained such name for their lustrous shimmer and high reflectiveness.
mica powder

What is it used for?

Cosmetics and skincare
Reflective and refractive properties of mica have made it a huge trend in the cosmetic and skincare industry as it adds shimmer, shine, glow to the products.
Some call mica “the re-discovery of color" and micas are widely used in most make-up and cosmetic product such as eye shadow, blusher, lipsticks, bronzer, nail polish, body moisturizer, etc. Cosmetic companies are the 4th largest buyer of micas and love it for its shimmer that makes skin look wrinkle-free and youthful. Mica is also used in toothpaste to improve the color and add shine to the paste.
cosmetic mica powder
Automotive coating
Mica is used to make reflective, metallic and pearlescent paint used in automotive coating. It creates iridescent prism-like effect that changes the color when looked at from different angles.
automotive coating with mica powder
Additive for paints and other coating and vanishing materials
Mica powder is used as additive for epoxy resin, concrete and paint to create various colors.
Widely used in everyday items
On top of those, mica is also widely used in the production of daily items such as kitchen appliances, cellular phones, plastic container, rubber products and so forth.
How is mica sourced?
Mica is extracted from the ground by mining. It is mainly sourced from India and Madagascar. Extracted mica is sorted and get sent away to become processed where it is pulverized down into small flakes and fine powder to be used in various production and manufacturing processes.

Ethical problem in Mica mining

There is a big concern over the mining environment as there are children involved and the safety and working condition of the mining site is very poor.

Movements to improve the sourcing of natural mica

Governments and communities are working to prevent worker exploitation and regulate the working condition by implementing laws and initiatives. Companies are either switching to synthetic mica or committing to use only ethically sourced natural mica.

Natural mica vs Synthetic Mica

There are two types of mica used in the products around us.
Natural Mica
As mentioned above, natural micas are a group of minerals that are mined and processed.
Natural mining was done in small batches and hence struggling to meet the demand, which why the development of synthetic mica was decided. There were a number of attempts in the 1870-80 but it was not until 1887 that the first synthetic mica was successfully created.
Synthetic Mica
Synthetic mica, fluorphlogopite is created in the lab, replicating the shimmering effect of natural mica. Although it costs more to produce and therefore to sell out compared to natural mica, synthesized mica has some advantages.
1. Controlled, consistent and more stable quality
2. Free of natural radiation
3. High purity
4. Greater reflectivity
5. Resistance to higher temperature
6. Contains almost no heavy metal
    We supply both natural and synthetic mica. We only use natural mica confirmed to be free of child-labor and animal testing. We use synthetic mica for any products that are applied on lips as stated in the FDA Color Additive Laws, Regulation, and Guidance.

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