Monday, December 17, 2007

Mica Is A Problem For Your Sensitive Skin!

Do you have sensitive skin which may include acne, rosacea or a contact dermatitis? If you do, then mineral makeup which contains Mica or Sericite (finer version of Mica) as its’ primary ingredient may just be the next worse thing to using Bismuth Oxychloride. It can literally feel as though you have scrubbed your face raw. Tiny little lesions that become sensitized to touch or anything you may apply to your skin outside of using plain water.

Sensitive skin can be characterized as skin that is sensitized to ingredients applied to the face which may cause incessant burning, or a stinging sensation. When experiencing this after applying any skin care product, you can be assured you are having an allergic reaction to something in your cleanser, toner, makeup or face crème. This is another argument for also not using washcloths to bathe sensitive skin.

Mica (Sericite) as a general rule is safe for the skin and usually will not cause any significant problems for women with normal complexions; however for those of us, like me, with sensitive, allergy prone skin issues, this ingredient can cause severe distress to the wearer. Mica is made from pulverized (crushed) rock which tends to have sharp microscopic edges causing micro-tears when buffed onto the skin. It can also cause further irritation to women with acne and rosacea making both of these conditions worsen. Certain coated Mica based products will wreak havoc on acne prone skin due to its' heavier consistency which requires more buffing onto the skin in order to disperse pigment and keep it from slipping into fine lines. It is this same action which forces the makeup into the pores which in turn can plug them and create an environment for more acne to grow. The typical coating of choice on Micas for formulators wanting a creamier feel is Carnauba Wax, yet this usually contributes to melt out in the mineral powders and is rarely included in the ingredient list.

Mineral Makeup however, is an excellent way to prevent most skin problems for most women but it is better to use a mineral makeup line that does not use Mica or Bismuth as its’ leading ingredient. This is why alternative fillers can be quite beneficial over and above these other fillers since they can bring additional healing benefit to the skin and buffing is greatly reduced. In fact, avoiding Mica based products and Bismuth altogether is preferred for sensitive-allergy / acne / rosacea prone ladies. The main reason for using mineral foundation is to calm erythema and protect the skin from further sun damage and to reduce problems from further irritants.

Treated or coated Mica (sericite) may reduce some of this problem by giving the Mica a more creamy texture, but it doesn’t remove the problem with itching or stinging in most cases, especially once you perspire. As long as it is the main component, and a woman can still experience enough irritation, unfortunately, she may eventually give up on using minerals altogether despite the benefits.

For those of us who have experienced this frustration, there is still hope for getting away from all the synthetically processed chemical makeup out there. I have found a way to incorporate Mica by using it sparingly and having it treated with Methicone in order to make it the best for your skin. This process encapsulates the Mica, giving it a ball bearing effect when applied to the face. It is by far the safest method to combine this inert ingredient to achieve the light refracting properties it can offer without causing further micro-abrasion to the skin. Another added benefit of Methicone is its' ability to protect the skin from tansepidermal moisture loss which is wonderful for ladies with dry skin. Mica serves no healing purpose except to create bulk and a finer texture to the minerals in the product and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Using Methicone treated Mica in smaller portions will still offer this benefit for youthful looking skin, but without the added irritation. This is why I use very little Mica in all of my foundations and the Mica is always treated with Methicone.

For the most part, mineral makeup is about applying the essential minerals like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide to the face in order to achieve the proposed healing treatment for the skin. Then combining these with other minerals or botanicals is the best way to deliver these to the skin without causing more inflammation. Methicone treated Mica, Rice Powder, Oat Powder, Boron Nitride, Kaolin Clay, Aloe Powder and Allantoin to name a few are excellent for creating the lowest risk of irritants within a mineral cosmetic. Also, using a high quality synthetic brush to apply minerals can prevent further distress to the skin.

One more thing to consider when looking for that perfect mineral makeup, Titanium Dioxide when used with little filler, can also cause irritation to the face even in the absence of Mica and Bismuth. Although an anti-inflammatory, in high proportion, Titanium Dioxide can cause a strong reaction to sensitized skin and can also contribute to dryness and leave a chalky appearance to the face. With little filler it may also require more buffing in order to get it to cover and disperse on the skin.

For best results, read the ingredients and make sure there is a balance of your two very important skin calming minerals combined with a nice blend of skin conditioning powders which will glide across skin with little buffing action. You will have a lovely smoother application of our mineral cosmetics that will meld with your skin, leaving it rose petal soft, and reduce risk of irritation.

So explore further and try others besides the typical 4-5 basic ingredient mineral makeup. Your Face Will Love It!

Below is an example of emails I received from mica sensitive customers. In the interest of saving time I decided to post an update and provide the answer to all that may still be experiencing this similar problem:

Good Afternoon Katherine,

I have tried samples of your foundation, and I love the way they feel and how they look on my face. I have never worn a mineral makeup that has looked as good. However, I'm still experiencing some itchiness when I get warm, and I think I have an allergy to mica. Do you have a mica free version of your foundation?

Smiles, Melanie
Portland, OR

UPDATE 3/15/2008: After receiving many emails and phone calls in regards to this article and in the interest of further assistance to these women who may be mica sensitive, I did some follow up. Since a small number of ladies were still experiencing slight itching when they perspired after using Sterling Minerals Foundation, though their skin problems had greatly improved, I decided to do further research with my dermatologist since it was known that my formulations should greatly reduce most sensitivities of the skin. Furthermore, I reminded the women that slight itching is normal when skin is trying to heal.

Together we investigated the skin care regimens with these women and in every instance they were using either AHA's, Retin A, Facial Scrubs, Acne Treatments, mainly Benzoyl Peroxide and washcloths on a daily basis. Their skin was overly sensitized. Once these women reduced exfoliation practices, the mild itching they were still experiencing was resolved. Women with sensitive skin should not over exfoliate, but reduce it to 2-3 times per week which gives skin time to rest and rejuvenate.

Also our minerals do not need to be buffed onto the skin. Just press and sweep for perfect application, and only slightly buff to blend for even shading. Also make sure you are using a clean brush to remove old problem causing makeup before trying something new. Also, using a high quality Synthetic Brush can be key to greatly reducing that irritation or itchy feeling from the skin. I hope this update will help those who had this similar question about their mineral makeup.

Don't hesitate to write to me or my staff if you have further questions at

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  1. Do not EVER buy "THIN LIZZY" mineral foundation or make up if your skin relates to the article above. It is mainly made up of the two nastiest ingredients, Mica and Bismuth Oxychloride! I have been using it daily for two weeks and I have since been using it to try and cover my latest blemishes, which have become MUCH worse in the last 3-4 days. I look terrible, I had mild blemishes before but now they are irritated, inflamed and ugly!!! I was curious to find out what was doing this to my skin so I typed in the ingreadients on google and I found this website, THANK GOD!

    1. Hi Steph! I was considering to buy things lizzy because I have the same problems like redness and I have dark circles which I really want to hide. I went to a store and tried a bit of the concealer tester and a few minutes later, I felt a stinging on the area. What kind of makeup are you using now if you don't mind please? Struggling right now lol