what is mica?
By Dr. Carolyn Bessette, M.D.
Mica is a natural mineral that is mined from the Earth. It is used to give sparkle to consumer products. Here at Dr. Bessette Naturals we only use natural ingredients in our skincare products, so why don’t we use mica?
Although mica is natural and perhaps eco friendly there have been several reports coming out of Africa, India and Madagascar where most of the world’s mica is mined. These reports describe atrocious human rights violations especially with children who are forced to work long hours in terrible conditions. There is an excellent documentary on this topic from Refinery29 and it can be found here.
Micas are used in eye shadows, highlighters, bronzers, nail polish, and some handmade soaps. If it sparkles, it’s probably mica. Glitters are similar but an even bigger problem. Glitter, which is a topic for another time, is actually little pieces of plastic that contaminate our oceans and water supplies because they are not easily degraded.
Many micas are ground to a fine powder and then tinted with synthetic FD&C colorants that give intense hues from the colorant and sparkle from the mica. Although FD&C colorants are deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration for food and cosmetic use, we use natural colorants like fruit purees, seeds, and clays in our soaps and skincare. Natural colors are more subtle and there are few neons or brights. All FD&C colorants are synthetic and made in a lab.
Natural mica may cause micro lacerations of the skin and there is also a concern for the presence of lead, arsenic, and mercury therefore synthetic micas have been developed as well. Although these synthetic alternatives alleviate the human rights violations concern, these synthetic micas are just that, synthetic. Our mission at Dr. Bessette Naturals is to use the highest quality natural ingredients while being sensitive to the sourcing of our raw materials. For that reason, mica is bad in our book because there are other natural alternatives. Finely milled sugar, real gold or silver leaf, even some exotic salts give us natural sparkle we can feel good about!