|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.|
|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.|
|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.|