Mica and Oxide Colors

Are Micas and Oxides Natural?

What is mica?

Online, some soap makers will tell you…

·   “Mica pigments are mineral colors that lend themselves beautifully to any soapmaking process. They are non-toxic.”

·   “Mica is the name of a group of naturally occurring Earth's minerals which are mined from around the world, purified, and crushed into fine powders.”

So… are the micas used in soap making and cosmetics really non-toxic, naturally occurring minerals?

Unfortunately, NO.

Some mica colorants begin with naturally mined mica, but the beautiful colors you see in cosmetics and soaps are created by coating the mica with oxide colorants or FD&C lab colors.

What’s more, many micas have been deemed unsafe for use in cosmetics. However, since the FDA does not consider soap a cosmetic, soap makers are free to use these micas to color soap. With that said, a reputable soap maker is not likely to use non-cosmetic-safe micas in their soap, but a reputable soap maker will not label mica-colored soaps as "all natural" either.

What are iron oxides?

Online, some soap makers will tell you…

·   “These pigments are mined from the earth (inorganic) and approved for use in soap, mineral cosmetics and toiletries.”

·   “…color additives which are derived from the earth would not be considered "Natural". Rather, mineral pigments are called "Inorganic" ("non-living"). There are a number of inorganic color additives used in soap and cosmetics: iron oxides (browns, blacks, reds, etc.), ultramarines, chromium oxide green, and a variety of whites such as titanium dioxide.”

So… are the iron oxides used to color cosmetics and soap mined from the earth, and are they as safe as any natural colorant?

No. Due to high levels of toxic contaminants such as arsenic, mercury, lead and selenium found in naturally occurring iron oxides, the iron oxides used in cosmetics and soap have been manufactured in labs since the 1970’s. The purpose of this was to make these colors safer by manufacturing a product with fewer toxins. As a result, iron oxides may contain fewer toxins, but they are certainly not natural.
What’s more, manufacturing these oxides in a lab does not eliminate the toxins, it merely reduces the toxins to an amount deemed “safe” by the FDA. * The FDA considers the following amount of toxins safe:
·         Arsenic (as As), not more than 3 parts per million.
·         Lead (as Pb), not more than 10 parts per million.
·         Mercury (as Hg), not more than 3 parts per million
Some iron oxides may still be mined naturally, but they are often high in toxic metals and are NOT approved for cosmetic use in the United States. ONLY synthetic iron oxides are approved for cosmetic use in the United States.