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What is the difference between mica powders and pigment powders?

Dec. 04, 2021

Both mica powders and pigment powders can be mixed and used to add color to resins, soaps, candles and translucent polymer clays. They are both colorants and can be used to color the surface of polymer clay. But they are not the same thing.

Mica is shiny. Pigment powders are matte. They behave differently. But online listings are often confusing, and sometimes they are sold mixed in the same package. This may mean that the powder you buy will not be used as you expect.



Mica Powders

Mica is a natural stone mineral with shiny flakes. When mica is ground into a powder, you get mica powder. As a result, mica powders are shiny, sort of like very fine glitter. They are used to produce metallic or shiny pearl-like effects. They come in a variety of colors. Although mica powders are usually available in colors, they are not the best choice for coloring because their main purpose is to produce glitter or shine.


Pigment Powders

Pigment powders are ground up colors, sort of like powdered colored chalk. The pigments themselves are the actual colors and have names such as ultramarine blue, cadmium red, ochre yellow and titanium white. There are also some artificial pigments. Pigments are what manufacturers use to give paint its color. They do not sparkle. Pigment powders are excellent at coloring. Pure artist's pigments (solid colors) are quite expensive, so the pigments you buy from cheap sellers online are usually mixed with fillers (like chalk) to make the color go farther.


Used in cosmetics

Both mica powder and pigment powder are used in the cosmetic industry. In fact, a combination of pigment and mica powder is used to make eye shadows, blushes and powder foundation makeup. These can be used together with polymer clay. Cosmetic supply companies are an excellent source of pigment and mica powders. But choose a reputable company to make sure you are getting exactly what you need.


Pigments and Mica Powders for Artists

All pigments will have the following two characteristics in common.

1. They will saturate to their darkest hue in transparent media

2. They will shade lighter in opaque media and their base color will appear

Mica powders and our new Mica Glitter Gold and Glitter Silver offer a metallic color that is versatile, though somewhat limited. Artists can mix mica powder and glitter into a medium, but only transparent or translucent. They can be used to create opaque metallic colors, or just to create a metallic sheen. The effect is controlled by how much is added and the transparency of the medium.

Some of the ways artists can use our mica and glitter powders include:

▴ Egg tempera painting

▴ Oil paints

▴ Varnish, bugloss, topcoat

▴ transparent polymer clay

▴ art, wall and furniture waxes


While both mica powders and pigments can be used to color the surface of polymer clay, they behave very differently. Knowing which material you have will help you understand how to use it in your clay projects. These are incredibly versatile materials that can be used in a variety of ways beyond adding rosy cheeks to cherubs.

Have more questions about mica powders and pigment powders? We'd be happy to answer them for you.

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