Silica Microspheres

What is it? Silica microspheres is an “an amorphous hydrated silica” in a microsphere (super tiny ball) format. Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in everything from granite to sand.
INCI Silicon Dioxide
Appearance Very fine white powder.
Usage rate 1–15%, up to 100% (watch for the product being too drying)
Texture Incredibly soft and smooth with a silky, dry finish.
Scent Nothing noticeable.
Solubility Insoluble
Why do we use it in formulations? Because they’re magic, basically. Silica microspheres improve slip, reduce the oily feel of products, and help improve the appearance of the skin by diffusing light for a real-life airbrushing effect.

I use silica microspheres in a lot of eye makeup formulas because they improve the slip/glide of the product and help with oil control, which helps improve wear time.

I include silica microspheres in cream cosmetics and oil serums because they give the end product a beautiful dry-touch finish that is incredibly luxurious and feels very expensive. Try blending a drop or two of oil with a tiny sprinkle of silica microspheres and rubbing that into your hand to see what I mean!

I love silica microspheres in all kinds of cosmetics for oil absorption, light diffusion, and improved slip.

Do you need it? If you want to make colour cosmetics I highly recommend owning some silica microspheres.
Refined or unrefined? Silica microspheres only exist as a refined product.
Strengths Extremely effective oil absorption, light diffusion, and improved slip.
Weaknesses They can be hard to find in some parts of the world, and may be too drying for some skin types.
Alternatives & Substitutions Silica microspheres are hard to substitute well. Sericite mica can be a decent alternative, but it is not nearly as oil absorbent so if the recipe relies on the silica microspheres for a dry-touch finish that likely won’t be present. Calcium carbonate has similar oil absorbing properties, but the pH is much higher so it isn’t a good choice for eye products. Calcium carbonate also has none of the light dispersion/blurring properties of silica microspheres.
How to Work with It Wear a dust mask! Silica microspheres are very lightweight and prone to floating around and being inhaled.

Stir or hand-mash into powdered cosmetics after you are done using your coffee grinder; grinding silica microspheres compromises their teensy sphere-ness. Silica microspheres can also be stirred into hot or cold liquid cosmetics that won’t be ground.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry,
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks In my book, Make it Up, feel free to replace calcium carbonate with silica microspheres in any recipe for a better end result. I used silica microspheres sparingly in the book as they can be very expensive in some parts of the world, but if you have an ample supply I think you’ll enjoy the swap!

Some companies sell straight silica microspheres as an expensive setting powder—check your ingredient labels!

Recommended starter amount 30g (1oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Formulations that Use Silica Microspheres


Posted on

February 1, 2019