Colouring Agent/Pigment

No known benefits

Mica at a glance

  • General term for a group of 37 earth-derived silicate minerals
  • Often included in cosmetic formulations to impart iridescent or opalescent shine
  • May also be used to impart varying degrees of opacity
  • Light-reflective quality makes it highly desirable for giving skin a healthy-looking glow
  • Mica is considered safe and can be ethically sourced through the Responsible Mica Initiative

Mica description

Mica is the general term given for a group of 37 earth-derived silicate minerals that are often included in cosmetic formulations to impart sparkle in the form of an iridescent or opalescent shine. The amount and look of the shine depend on the exact mineral itself, how finely it’s milled for use in liquid, cream, or powder products, and how much is added to a given formula. Mica can also be used to impart varying degrees of opacity. Mica’s light-reflective quality makes it highly desirable for giving skin a healthy-looking glow and can even be used to brighten a shadowy under-eye area. Hues of mica cover a wide spectrum of the rainbow, though in cosmetics it is typically used in its pearlescent white form. It is often coated in titanium dioxide, which maximises the colour resulting from iridescence. Mica is considered safe for use in cosmetics, including those applied to the eyes and lips. Its usage concentration range is wide, going from 1% or less (depending on desired result) to upwards of 60%, although even higher concentrations are permitted. Mica can also be synthetically manufactured. In this form it is often referred to as synthetic fluorphlogopite mica or artificial mica—and takes on a different role as a bulking agent to thicken emulsions. In recent years, controversial child labor practices around mining mica have been exposed. For ethical sourcing, companies can choose suppliers who are members of the Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI). Paula’s Choice only uses suppliers of mica who are RMI affiliated.

Mica references

  • CosmeticsInfo.org, Accessed July 2021, ePublication
  • Responsible-mica-initiative.com, Accessed July 2021, ePublication
  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration (Color Additives Permitted for Use in Cosmetics), Accessed July 2021, ePublication
  • ACM Transactions on Graphics, November 2020, pages 1-15
  • International Journal of Toxicology, November 2015, pages 43S-52S
  • Coloration Technology, October 2011, pages 310-313
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, February 2006, pages 74-75

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.