What is mica? You would be surprised to know that it can be found in almost every cosmetic or beauty product that has any color, sheen or pearlescent hue to it. What you probably don’t know is that the mica itself may be a natural mineral, the color that is applied to the mica and therefore your product, is not.
So, let us get started first with defining mica: a soft, flexible mineral that is formed in layers, often referred to as sheets; there are 37 different micas but the most common are purple lepidolite, black biotite, brown phlogopite and clear muscovite. The only colors that mica naturally comes in is purple, rosy, silver, gray, dark green, brown, black, yellow-brown, green-white, and colorless. If you notice, that isn’t exactly the large color selection that you see in make-up products such as eye shadow and blush. Bath and body products such as bath bombs/fizzies, lotions, and soap also use these for coloring or the metallic sheens. Though the organic mica itself has no documented health side effects when used in products, you would not want to inhale it as a powder or flake form. The chemical coloring applied to the mica however, is a different story. First let’s talk about where mica comes from.
India and Russia are the largest suppliers of mica and like many other minerals that are mined, it is not done so in the best conditions. India has had a lot of negative world attention because of children dying in the mines and the inhumane working conditions. One in five workers in the mines and quarries is a child. Mica is also used in constructions, electronics and a variety of other industries. Not only is mica harvested questionably it is then treated with chemicals to get the wide variety of colors you see today for beauty products.
To get the full array of hues you see in products, Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) colors are applied. These colors, though approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), are chemicals and have serious health side effects such as causing cancer. The top approved color additives to be cautious of are: blue 1, blue 2, citrus red 2, green 3, orange 8, red 3, red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6. These dyes are mixed to make a rainbow of colors so read your labels carefully.
Products can be colored safely using a botanical extract, as is done in all B&W Apothecary products. Though you won’t find shimmery or metallics in our list, it is the luster of your healthy skin that will glow from our products.