What is mica and why would you go mica-free in your makeup?

pink and brown makeup brush set

What is mica and why would you go mica-free in your makeup?


macro shot of three brown makeup brushesI am going to do a post a little different this time. I am working out some ideas for a book and these are a few questions I am working on trying to figure out the best way to answer them. So, here we go

  1. What is mica?
  2. How is mica mined?
  3. What are some of the bad reactions to it?

These are the three questions this post is going to answer and hopefully give you a better understanding about mica.

So let’s start off with the basics,

WHAT IS MICA? Mica minerals are often used as color additives in cosmetics. They also have reflective properties, allowing for a shimmery effect in mineral foundations. Long term inhalation of mica poses a health risk to workers, specifically those working in muscovite (the most common form of mica) mills and other occupations such as agriculture and construction work.

Mineral makeup has been around for a long time.

I have been selling mineral makeup for years. My brand is called Overall Beauty MINERALS, sold at kmms.etsy.com

I got asked a few years ago if I could create colors that are mica-free. I had no idea about how to go about it, but I had to start at the basics. Why not? Well it seems that when it comes to mica, and the desire to go mica-free comes down to 2 main reasons.

The first reason comes down to personal reason. Mica comes mainly from 2 areas in the world, India and China. Mica coming from China is ok, its the mica that comes from India that can be a issue. Why? After the major companies tap out a mine (meaning it cost more to mine than what you are able to get out of the mine) they leave and move on. Now what happens is because India is a very poor country, families needing money to eat with, they will use their children to go back into those mines, becoming child labor to help their families eat. But also unfortunately they sell that mica to the cartels for way less than its worth. It’s difficult to think that mica is being mined by children so someone would rather not have mica in their makeup.

Each time I ship out an order I ask my customers the reason why they are in need of mica free colors and here are some of their answers:

“I have to use mica-free eye shadows, because I am allergic to them, and I have sensitive eyelids.”

“It’s the weirdest thing–last year, all of a sudden, my skin went crazy dry (hello menopause) and I got insane eczema and the mica makes micro abrasions that swell up and turn bright red. It’s a huge bummer as I’ve had to toss so many products I loved.”

” I suffer from facial eczema so finding a suitable makeup brand is very difficult.”

The issues with mica can be pretty much two reasons why someone would want to go mica-free. Personal choice or due to skin reactions to it. You know, I never really thought about it till I started getting questions about it, and if I had colors that did not have mica in them.

macro photograph of eyeshadow palette

This is what one of the main companies I buy supplies from that state about mica:

“We enthusiastically research each pigment, it’s source, safety and application. We require from all our suppliers a Certificate of Analysis for every pigment, SDS Sheets, letters stating their animal testing policy and letter stating that they monitor all mines where they source their pigments and make assurance that no children work in those mines. We realize that it may be almost impossible to assure our mica has not been sourced from a mine that employs child labor but feel it is important that our supplier know we care about this issue.”

What can be done about how it’s mined? That is a question I do not have the answer to. But if you are having reactions to your makeup? Check for two ingredients on the labels, Mica or Talc. It seems if those are found together in your makeup? They can be the biggest reason why you can no longer wear your favorite major brand any longer.

Here is a link to where I as a very small brand offer mica free colors.

Website post: about How Mica is mined

This is a wonderful article that really covers the reasons way better than I can on the issues behind mica and child labor mining.

The Beauty Industry’s Darkest Secret

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Owner & creator of Overall Beauty Minerals - vegan mineral makeup line. Beauty blogger, writer of articles about pretty much anything to do with beauty, with product reviews. Lover of guinea pigs, supporter of no-kill shelters for small animals.
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