Mica powders are so fun to use when making homemade soaps and a plethora of other DIY natural home goods and gifts. The powders come in a vast array of colors, offering nearly endless options when creating one-of-a-kind products.
Mica is derived from a natural stone mineral that boasts shiny flakes. Once the mica stone is ground into a powder, mica powder is created. The powder is basically a soft type of fine glitter that has a coloring or dying effect when it comes into contact with a myriad of different surfaces and materials.
The off white, gray, yellow, or slightly brown mica powders stem from muscovite – a metamorphic rock that contains potassium aluminum silicate. Mica powders routinely used to dye soap are often colored with ultramarines, titanium dioxide, and other oxides to create bright pigments.
Both natural white mica powder and colored mica powder cast a pearly, shimmery, sparkly, and metallic effect when used to decorate or dye a project.
Mica powders can be used in nearly any project that will accept dye or paint, things such as:
To use mica powders as a natural paint, simply dampen a paint brush, and then dip it into the desired mica powder color. Always wash the brush before switching colors unless you want to blend the shades together.
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Natural vs. Synthetic Mica Powder – Read Labels Carefully!
Both naturally colored and synthetically colored mica powder is typically made in a lab. The “lab” part of the coloring process is often what confuses folks when it comes to understanding the natural vs. synthetic origins of the colored mica powder they are considering buying or using.
Most of the mica powder that is used in commercially manufactured cosmetics or sold for the purpose of making them, soap, and candles at home are naturally mined – but likely underwent a coloring process in a lab.
One of the reasons manufacturers tend to prefer natural mica powders over synthetic ones boils down to cost. Synthetic mica powders or fluorphlogopite, cost more to make than mining the natural white powder and coloring it.
Is Mica Powder FDA Approved?
Mica powders are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but powders that contain ultramarine blue and chromium oxide green, for example, are not FDA-approved color additives for cosmetics.
When a color additive is used in a product that will touch the skin, the FDA does require a specific purity level – hence why mica powders are colored in a lab to achieve provable purity to meet government regulations.
To meet FDA regulations, natural mica powder designed for cosmetic use must not have a micron size that is in excess of 150. There are currently no such limits on synthetic mica powder micron sizes.
Is Mica Powder Safe?
Simply because an item is natural does not mean it is safe for everyone to use. An allergic reaction can occur when using any natural item – even wild berries as a natural paint. But, there are no known side effects to using mica powder on the skin.
Mica is not bad for your skin due to its non-irritating and soft nature – unless your skin already has a rash or similar irritation.
Repeated and prolonged exposure of mica powder dust could cause silicosis – lung disease – lung cancer, but is not expected to create any typical hazards during normal use.
Normal use, in my personal experience, involves not sniffing the little baggies the mica powder comes in (or working in a lab without a mask), and simply placing the pouch above the work surface and stirring or painting with the product.
How to Use Mica Powder
1. To Color Homemade Soap
Mica powder works best when used with melt and pour soap bases, in my personal experience. You simply pour some of the powder into the soap base after melting it and combine thoroughly with a spoon.
You can add the mica powder into the soap recipe before or after adding in other ingredients, such as essential oil for scent, shea butter, oatmeal, etc.
How much mica powder you add into a melt and pour soap base depends on the depth and vibrancy of color you want in the soap bar, and on how much of the base is being used.
I would recommend using ½ to 1 teaspoon of mica powder for every half pound of soap base. Add in ¼ of a teaspoon more after stirring until you achieve the desired color shade.
If you are using a soap mold with a raised design, mica powders can be used to paint the design to add more dimension and visual interest in the homemade bar of soap.
The powder allows you to create customized soap in school colors to make inexpensive gifts out of sports ball or mascot themed soap molds.
2. To Make Candles
Mica powder is used in much the same to tint soy wax, or white beeswax for candles as it is for soap.
The mica powder must be stirred into the wax while it is really hot and before it goes into any kind or mold, container, or is dipped onto a wick.
Mica powder can also be used to create a “marbled” look to candles or in tiny molds that are affixed to the candle as decorations. For every 16 ounces of candle wax flakes you should stir in 1 teaspoon of mica powder.
Now, some candle makers stand firmly against coloring wax with mica powder because it can clog around the wick, turn the wick into a sparkler, or appear more like colored flecks instead of a true dye on the wax.
I have never had an issue dying wax with mica powder, but if you do, or if want to avoid any such pitfalls, you can always paint the finished candle with mica powder – as many candle makers opt to do.
You can also use mica powder to create beautiful and colorful wax melts.
3. Fabric Paint
To make your own fabric using mica powder you can use the acrylic style paint instructions, and mix it with equal parts of standard school glue and shaving cream until the desired shade is mixed.
Another way is to simply mix the mica powder into the glue and shaving cream solution until you get the shade you want and then paint a design on fabric that should not wash out.
I would not recommend putting fabric with either mica powder paint option in the dryer. While this process can be used to adorn clothing, it is best used on fabric art projects.
The video below demonstrates the school glue and shaving cream method of DIY fabric paint making:
4. Bath Bombs
You can paint a finished bath bomb with mica powders or add them into the bath bomb recipe to give a deeper and more vibrant look to the entire homemade bath bomb.
Painting Bath Bombs With Mica Powder Video
Blooming Color With Mica Powder
When you bloom color with mica powder in a bath bomb the shade first appears light or pastel, but as you add in a few drops of rubbing alcohol and stir, the color becomes far more vibrant.
Watch the mica powder bath bombs video below for a step by step tutorial on how to bloom color into the homemade bath fizzies.
5. Paper Crafts – Cards, Scrapbooking, Journaling
Greeting cards are ridiculously expensive, as are the intricate and attractive journaling and scrapbook pages sold at craft stores.
Drawing or printing a black and white pattern onto paper and then painting it with mica powder allows you to customize a personalized card or paper project.
Tinting the color of DIY all natural eyeshadow and foundation makeup recipes or making your own personalized concealer and eyeliner is both fun and simple with the use of mica powders.
Mica powder has a definite shimmery effect on the skin that last for hours and hours – unless you get caught out in the rain!
You can save a ton of money making your own cosmetics, and never have to worry about slathering chemical ingredients you cannot even pronounce, onto your face.
7. Paint on dry clay project
Painting polymer clay or baked clay with mica powder brings out the fine details in the project. The mica powder fills in every nook and cranny of the clay creation, adding both depth and dimension to really bring the clay project to life.
8. Craft Paint
Making your own paint with mica powder is not only easy, but a whole lot of fun.
You can create custom shades that shimmer and sparkle and can be used on any type of paper and most other common crafting medium – tin, balsa wood, cardboard, etc.
How To Make Mica Powder Water Color Paint Video:
How To Make Mica Powder Acrylic Style Paint Video:
9. Dye Raw Clay
Customize your raw clay for ceramics using mica powders. The entire process is simple and quick – with fabulous and lasting results. There is no need to paint the clay after stirring in the mica powder.
Once the project comes out of the kiln the powder will be fully infused into it and produce an earthy hue that highlights the details of the ceramic creation you made.
10. Varnish, Glaze, Or Wax
Take your woodworking or clay craft projects up a notch by inexpensively making your own tinted varnishes, glazes, and waxes.
Refinishing an old piece of furniture or completing a shabby chic makeover with expert results and beginner skills is entirely possible when using mica powders to any standard wax, varnish, or glaze.
DIY Mica Powder Glaze Video:
DIY Mica Powder Wax Video:
11. Epoxy Resin Jewelry Making
Mixing resin with mica powders and acrylic paint adds a lot of shimmer and sparkle to any jewelry project. If you want a piece of jewelry that has a metallic facade, mica powder is the way to go.
12. Decorating Glass
Mica powder can be used to add extra designs and color in not only fused glass projects, but also when making stained glass.
The mica powder can be used to sign glass projects, as well as to adorn them.
13. Rubber Stamp Projects
Creating an embossed look to a project has never been easier. Push the rubber stamp into the ink pad or craft paint firmly and then press the stamp onto the project space – card, wood, fabric, etc.
Next, just shake a small amount of mica powder onto the damp design and allow it to dry slightly before shaking off the excess mica powder just as you would glitter.
Use only a minimal amount of paint when planning to sprinkle mica powder onto the project to prevent it from sinking into the liquid or smearing when the excess powder is shaken away.
14. Mica Powder In Decoupage Projects
Pour some of the decoupage glue into a plastic cup of bowl and stir in mica powder in increments of ¼ of a teaspoon amounts and stir to combine until the desired color is achieved.
The mica powder will add a lot of extra sparkle to the decoupage project even if you are using a pure or clear natural mica powder that has not had any color pigment added.
15. Mold Dusting
If you want to simply add a bit of flare to a resin, candle, soap, clay, or wax melt mold quickly, dusting the inside of the mold with mica powder will add the flourish you seek.
Once the mica powder color, colors, or design has been dropped or brushed into place, simply pour in your resin, wax, or melt and pour soap base and allow the project to cure.
In my personal experience, mica powder retains its sparkly nature for years when used on glass, wood, tin, paper, and even candles.
Are You Ready to Use Mica?
Mica powders are a wonderfully versatile crafting resource. They not only add shimmer and shine to any project, but allow you to completely customize shades and add texture to any homemade gift, beauty aid, or home decor project.
When mixed with paint, glaze, varnish, rubbing alcohol, wax, or a soap base, the wow factor of anything you are making to use, display, or gift is increased exponentially – even if you are a beginner at the particular crafting medium, and are working on a tight time and money budget.