Mica is a naturally occurring mineral found in stone, such as granite. It is often found in cosmetics thanks to its reflective properties which create a beautiful shimmer effect. This natural glitter can be found in many colors thanks to different minerals. It can be used in larger pieces for a glittery effect or ground into a fine powder, which has a satin-like shimmer. Most products with a brightening or illuminating effect contain mica. The use of this cosmetic ingredient itself has virtually no side-effects, but the natural ingredient does come with some major downfalls.
The Mining of Mica and Human Rights
The first problem that comes with mica has to do with human rights, more specifically in relation to the mining of this mineral. Indian mica is renowned for its quality. But unfortunately, due to large deposits of the mineral, its value, and the overall poverty of the regions in which it is found, there has been widespread use of child labor for the recovery of this mineral. In addition, it is near impossible to accurately track the true source of mica, causing problems for companies, like us, looking for ethically sourced mica. When we decided to start using mica in our SkinOwl products, we knew we needed to find a solution. For us, that solution has been synthetic mica.
Synthetic vs Natural Mica
Synthetic mica is chemically the same as naturally forming mica, except for the fact that it’s created in a lab. This man-made alternative has the same shimmery effects of the natural stuff, just without all the ethical baggage. Although the idea of using a synthetic ingredient in our natural skincare formulas might sound strange, there are many reasons why we believe synthetic mica is better than natural mica.
As we mentioned before, the mining of natural mica is linked to several ethical issues, ranging from child labor to the overall health of the miners, child and adult alike. Breathing in the dust and sediments in the air puts miners at a health risk.
Mining also puts the earth’s health at risk by destroying natural ecosystems. Being made in a lab, synthetic mica doesn’t have these environmental implications. Plus, synthetic mica doesn’t have the environmental impact of plastic glitters, as it’s still made of natural minerals
The sharp edges of natural mica can cause micro-tears in the skin’s surface. Synthetic mica has smooth, uniform edges, making it a better choice for use on the skin, especially the delicate facial skin. It also allows for more sparkles! Synthetic mica particles can be larger than natural particles and still be worn comfortably.
Brighter and more Luminous
Synthetic mica, because it’s made in a lab, is purer than its natural form. This means that it’s brighter and more luminous, allowing for higher pigmentation and stronger hues.
How You Can Eliminate Natural Mica from Your Beauty Routine
It’s relatively easy, just look at your ingredients! Natural mica will be listed under the name “Mica”, “Potassium Aluminium Silicate”, or “CI 77019” and synthetic mica will be listed as “Synthetic Mica” or “Synthetic Fluorphlogopite”.
Where You Will Find It
Our Body+ Highlighting Oils (a trio of face and body illuminators inspired by our favorite crystals) are the ultimate body oil for tired, thirsty skin. Indulge in highly absorbent antioxidants and pure plant oils, intended to replenish and rejuvenate the skin from within. The perfect post-shower smoother to enhance your skin’s natural radiance and visibly reduce the appearance of stretch marks, wrinkles, and dark spots
Curious and interested in learning more about mica in cosmetics? Marie Claire Magazine has a wonderful article where they breakdown the ethical issues associated with using natural mica and how the cosmetic industry is evolving to develop child-labor free sources of mica. This article even mentions SkinOwl as a industry leader by setting a trend of using synthetic mica.
It gives us great joy to formulate our products with sustainable and integrity-rich ingredients that are ethically sourced. Thank you for being along for the journey, beauty birds!