Mica (CI 77019) is an inorganic, colorless silicate mineral that provides luster and adhesion. Mica is used in most mineral cosmetics for its luxurious silkiness and subtly reflective properties. It is available in many grades, some known as “sericite” or matte, that range in textures from matte to shimmery. Approved for use in cosmetics in the U.S., E.U. and Japan.
The word "mica" is derived from the Latin word mica, meaning "a crumb", and probably influenced by micare, to glitter.
Mica is widely distributed and occurs in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary regimes. Large crystals of mica used for various applications are typically mined from granitic pegmatites.
Until the 19th century, large crystals of mica were quite rare and expensive as a result of the limited supply in Europe.
Wet-ground mica, which retains the brilliancy of its cleavage faces, is used primarily in pearlescent paints by the automotive industry. Many metallic-looking pigments are composed of a substrate of mica coated with another mineral, usually titanium dioxide (TiO2). The resultant pigment produces a reflective color depending on the thickness of the coating. These products are used to produce automobile paint, shimmery plastic containers, and high quality inks used in advertising and security applications. In the cosmetics industry, its reflective and refractive properties make mica an important ingredient in blushes, eye liner, eye shadow, foundation, hair and body glitter, lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, moisturizing lotions, and nail polish. Some brands of toothpaste include powdered white mica. This acts as a mild abrasive to aid polishing of the tooth surface, and also adds a cosmetically pleasing, glittery shimmer to the paste. Mica is added to latex balloons to provide a colored shiny surface.
Throughout the ages, fine powders of mica have been used for various purposes, including decorations. Powdered mica glitter is used to decorate traditional water clay pots in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; it is also used on traditional Pueblo pottery, though not restricted to use on water pots in this case. The gulaland abir (colored powders) used by North Indian Hindus during the festive season of Holi contain fine, small crystals of mica to create a sparkling effect. The majestic Padmanabhapuram Palace, 65 km (40 mi) from Trivandrum in India, has colored mica windows.