What is mica powder? In short, it is a natural mineral that is ground into a fine powder. It has a range of uses, from crafting to cosmetics. In this guide, we will provide more detail on what mica powder is and how you can use it to create beautiful things. We’ll also provide some examples of projects that you can make with mica powder!
What is Mica Powder
Mica is a natural mineral containing silicates, manganese, iron, aluminium, potassium, and water. It is found in sedimentary rocks and is light and soft with flexible flakes. Mica is often milled into a fine powder and used in a variety of applications.
It can be used to add color and shimmer to paints, cosmetics, and crafts. It is popular because of its natural pearlescent and glimmery properties. It can also be used as an insulating material because it is resistant to heat and is not electrically conductive.
Flake mica may be produced from sources in the United States. It is typically found in places like North Carolina, South Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, and Georgia. Other common mining locations include Madagascar, China, Brazil, and India.
Natural mica comes in a range of colors that could be described as greyish or cloudy. The synthetic version, however, comes in an even wider range of very bright colors, which are shinier due to the manufactured version’s larger particle sizes.
How is Mica Powder Made
Mica powder is extracted from the earth and then milled into a fine powder. The milling process varies depending on the desired final product. For example, Cosmetic grade mica powder is milled to a very fine consistency so that it does not irritate the skin.
Craft grade mica powder is milled to a slightly coarser consistency so that it can be used for a variety of applications as we cover later on. Once the mica is milled, it is ready to be used in your favorite projects.
Mica powder has a variety of uses, from cosmetics to crafts. Some of the more common uses are in skincare products, bath bombs, cosmetics, and body washes.
Cosmetic grade mica powder is often used in mineral makeup and lipstick. It can also be used to add shimmer and sparkle to eye shadows, blushes, body glitter, mascara, and nail polish. It is used in some toothpastes for its abrasive properties.
The craft grade version can be used for a variety of projects including painting, resin casting, and decoupage. It can also be added to slime and bath bombs for color and shimmer. One of the most common craft uses is as a resin color pigment.
It is also used as thickening and smoothing agent. It may be an ingredient in something you already use. Other names for mica that you may see on ingredient lists include Muscovite mica, Sericite, Pigment white 20, and C177019.
Other uses include:
- The manufacturing of joint compound for drywall
- As an additive to drilling fluids
- As an extender, filler, or reinforcing material in automotive parts
- As a filler and mold release compound in the rubber industry
- The insulation of wiring used in aluminum manufacturing plants, some wiring circuits, heaters, boilers, smelters, and furnaces
- The production of electrical components like optical filters, thermal regulators, parts of microwave ovens, and heater element, defense missile systems, laser devices, and medical electronics
- Atomic force microscopy
Generally speaking, mica powder should not be inhaled. If you are using mica in industrial applications, you would want to be using protective gear like a respirator.
If you are using it for cosmetic purposes, you should be safe if you avoid breathing it in. The FDA’s regulations provide for the usage of mica powder in the eye area and on lips.
If you are using it in larger quantities, perhaps when crafting for example, you may want to consider using a mask or respirator. This is good practice anyway if you’re working with some types of resins.
Since natural mica comes from the ground, there is the potential that it may contain some heavy metals. However, doesn’t present an issue unless you ingest it.
Heavy metals are not an issue with synthetic mica. Cosmetic mica powder is completely safe to use externally is a common ingredient in skin care products.
Use in Crafting
In terms of crafting applications, mica powder can be used for many things from resin coloring to craft painting and more. Here are some more details:
- Resin pigmentation: After mixing resin and hardener, simply sprinkle in your choice of mica powder. Mix slowly to avoid air bubbles. Remember to add very small amounts at a time as a little goes a long way.
- In paints: You can either mix mica powder in manufactured paint to increase its sparkle, or you can create your own by mixing it together with water and gloss varnish. The varnish keeps the powder adhered to the surface of your medium.
- Sprays: Inside a spray bottle, mix 1/8 tsp of mica powder with 3 oz of 91% rubbing alcohol to create a shimmery spray. Since this will create a suspension, you want to shake the mixture vigorously before use so the particles are evenly disbursed. Cut the bottom of the spray tube so it stays off the bottom and avoids sucking up the powder particles.
- Soap making: When using a melt-and-pour soap base, simply melt the soap base and then add your mica powder until you reach your desired color depth. A good starting point is about 1/2 tsp per half pound of soap base. Note that vibrant colors will typically end up a bit more dull.
- Candle making: While your wax is still hot, and before pouring into a container or adding a wick, simply mix in your powder until the right color is reached. Start with 1 tsp per 16 oz. of candle wax flakes before deciding whether to add any more.
- Fabric paint: Mix 3 tbsp shaving cream, 1 tbsp white glue, and 1 tsp of acrylic paint in a container and add mica powder for color. For a video tutorial of the process, check this out.
- Polymer clay: Simply mix your mica directly into your polymer clay to achieve really cool effects. This will not affect the ability of your clay to bake properly. You can also combine it with a clear coat base and brush it onto the surface of baked pieces to add shimmer.
Use in DIY Cosmetics
Mica powder also has many uses in DIY cosmetics. Let’s go over some of those:
- Foundation: Create your own foundation by taking a pre-made moisturizer base and then mixing your mica powder in until the desired color is achieved. If you even more control over the final product, check out this DIY foundation post for inspiration.
- Eye shadow: After a primer and a coat of base shadow, simply use a slightly damp flat head brush to dab the mica powder around the eye area. Do this in layers, with each layer adding more intensity to the color and more glimmery shine. The flake composition of mica powder makes it difficult to achieve a matte look
- Lipstick: Make your own lipstick with coconut oil, beeswax, shea or cocoa butter, your preferred essential oil, and mica powder. Check out the full recipe here.
- Bath bombs: Apart from the bath bomb mold and your mica powder, you probably have the ingredients for this one in kitchen already. They are baking soda, olive oil, citric acid – that’s it. Follow the seven step process discussed here to create your own bath bombs!
- Nails: Either mix mica powder in with the nail polish suspension base or dab it onto the nails using a brush immediately after applying polish.
Mica Powder Tips
- Synthetic powders are of greater purity so they tend to have a much more bold color
- A mask is recommended when working with raw mica powder
- When using it as a resin colorant, remember that a little goes a long way. You should start with about 2-4 g per gallon of resin, which is 0.5-1g per 32 ounce bottle. You can always add more.
- To add a shimmer to any painting project, simply apply mica powder directly to any paint before it dries. Note that this won’t work well with water-based paints.
- For bath bombs, 1-2 tsp of mica powder for every pound of bath bomb works well
- When creating alcohol ink or dies, use a 1:3 ratio of mica powder to isopropyl alcohol for best results
- When using mica powder in soap making, remember that a translucent base will work best for allowing the true color of the mica to show through.
There you have it – a little background on what mica powder is, where it comes from, and what it’s used for. Hopefully this has given you some ideas on how you will use it in your next project.
Remember to checkout places like YouTube for more inspiration. Feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or ideas for future articles.