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mica 101: a beginner's guide to using mica in soap, wax, and more Learn how to use mica powder to add shimmer, sparkle, and color to your creations.

Micas are a must-have for customizing homemade soap, DIY wax melts, or other body care products. But what is mica, and how do you use it? In this article, you’ll learn about mica powder, how to use it for vibrant colors and sparkle, and get tips for working with it.

What is mica powder?

Mica is a naturally occurring mineral that's ground to a fine powder for use in products like soap, cosmetics, wax melts, and bath bombs. 

What is mica powder used for? Some mica powders are used as colorants, while others impart a shimmery or glittery effect. 

Mica powder is naturally gray or white in appearance. To achieve vivid colors or shimmery, glittery effects, manufacturers coat mica powder with lab-created pigments.

Is mica powder natural? Mica can be made from a natural mineral called muscovite or created in a lab. The lab-created version is known as synthetic mica, or fluorphlogopite, and is also composed of minerals. 

Cosmetic mica powders, whether natural or synthetic, are not considered 100% natural because the pigments that coat the mica powder are created in a lab. 

How much mica powder should you use?

A little goes a long way! When starting out, stir a small amount of mica powder into your base to see the resulting shade, then add more until you achieve the desired color. Different amounts of the same mica powder can result in a wide range of hues, so it may take some adjustments and testing to achieve your desired color.

For small batch projects, we recommend using microscoops or the smallest measuring spoon you have around. Keep track of the scoops used so you can replicate your results in the future. You can find crafting microscoops online by using the search term “microscoop.” Remember, don’t use crafting tools for food preparation after using them for crafting purposes. 

The color and opacity of your base factors into color payoff, with more translucent bases resulting in more vibrant colors. The natural color of the base affects the final color after mica is added; yellow bases like beeswax will retain their yellow tint and white bases will result in more pastel hues. 

Are you surprised that we didn’t recommend measuring on a scale? If you’re familiar with making candles or using fragrance oil and essential oil, you know that we always recommend measuring materials on a scale. Like fragrance oils and essential oils, mica powders vary in density. While weighing materials that vary in density is a more accurate method, the weight of mica needed for many small-batch projects simply won’t register on many scales. 

To weigh mica powders, you need a scale that measures in 0.01 gram increments, like a jewelry or cosmetics scale. Cold process soap and cosmetics makers often work with small weights like this.

While weighing mica powder is the best way to ensure accuracy, it’s okay for beginners to start out by measuring with scoops or teaspoons. If you graduate to larger batches, we recommend upgrading your scale and measuring by weight.

Using mica in soap and cosmetic bases

Mica powders result in vivid, steadfast colors, but it works a little differently than liquid dye. Mica powder is suspended within a base, while liquid dyes combine with and saturate the base. So while liquid soap dye is fantastic for simple designs and making ombre soap, mica powders are more able to achieve complex designs where the colors stay put.

Melt and pour soap bases

  • Clear melt and pour bases are the best option for vibrant soaps. Shimmery or glittery mica powders also shine more in clear bases.
  • Using mica in white melt and pour bases will produce a more pastel color, and shimmering effects will appear muted.
  • To add extra shimmer or glitter effects to melt and pour soap, dust your molds with mica powder before pouring your soap or dust your soap before it completely cools.
  • Mica powders can be combined with soap dye! For projects where you prefer using liquid soap dye but want a touch of sparkle, use liquid soap dye for color and a sparkly mica powder for shimmer.
  • Mica powder sometimes clumps together when added to a base. To avoid clumping, mix your mica powder into a small amount of oil, glycerin, or isopropyl alcohol before adding it to your base. You can also press clumps up against the side of your pouring pitcher to break them apart.
    • Note: Don’t add more oil than your soap base can handle. The maximum amount of additives is listed on the product description page for each melt and pour base.

Cosmetic bases, body oils, and other bath and body products

What else can you make with mica powder? There are many possibilities! Mica is great to work with because it’s inert in many bases, meaning it won’t react or dissolve. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about water or oil solubility. A few popular body care products you can use mica in include: 

  • Shimmering body oils
  • Body lotion and butter
  • Powder cosmetics like eyeshadow, blush, and highlighter
  • Lipgloss and lipstick
  • Nail polish

Mica powders are approved for different applications, or types of products. While some mica powders are approved for use in eye products, lip products, and bath bombs, other mica powders may not be.

Learn how to determine which mica powders can be used in different applications here

Mica in wax melts, wickless candles, and other home fragrance products

Can mica be used in wax products? Yes! However, it might not be the best way to color your wax. 

Mica particles are suspended in wax after it solidifies. When warming a wax melt made with mica powder, you’ll notice swirl patterns as the wax melts. These swirl patterns occur because as the wax melts, the mica powder is released from where it was suspended in the solid wax. The mica particles move around as the wax changes from a solid to liquid state. 

When wax is fully melted, mica powders eventually fall to the bottom of the melt pool. The wax above the fallen mica returns to its original color as it cools.

Mica powders can be a fun way to customize your wax melts and wickless candles if you’re okay with the look of your wax changing after each melt cycle.

Wax melts and wickless candles

  • Candle dye can be combined with mica powder for wax melts and wickless candles. If you’d like your wax to maintain some color after melt cycles, we recommend using candle dye to achieve the desired color and supplementing with mica powder for shimmer or glitter effects.
  • Mica can be incorporated into your wax, or you can use a light dusting technique. Try dipping a brush into mica powder, then hold it over your wax melt mold or clamshells. Tap the brush to sprinkle it over the surface of the wax.
  • Pouring temperature affects the way mica powder is distributed and settles in wax. Hotter pouring temperatures can cause mica to sink to the bottom faster, while cooler pouring temperatures help keep it more evenly suspended throughout the wax.

Can you use mica in candles?

Mica powder can clog the wick and create issues like tunneling or self-extinguishing in candles. If you’d like to use mica in candles, we recommend sticking with wickless candles to avoid burn issues.

Can you use mica in reed diffusers?

We don't recommend adding mica to your reed diffusers. Reed diffuser sticks work by drawing the scented reed diffuser solution up to disperse it throughout the air.

Like candle wicks, mica powder can clog diffuser sticks and prevent your reed diffuser from throwing scent to its full potential. Aesthetically, mica powder tends to settle to the bottom of liquids, so the mica will eventually form a layer at the bottom of your reed diffuser solution.

Get creative with mica

There are so many things you can make with mica! We hope this mica overview inspires your creativity, whether you plan to use mica in soap, wax melts, wickless candles, or a bath and body product.

Explore our collection of premium micas here.