Hematite microparticles are becoming increasingly important components in the soft matter field. The remarkable combination of magnetic and photocatalytic properties that characterize them, coupled with the variety of uniform and monodisperse shapes that they can be synthesized in, makes them a one of a kind colloidal model system. Thanks to these properties, hematite microparticles have been recently applied in several important soft matter applications, spanning from novel colloidal building blocks for self-assembly to necessary tools to investigate and understand fundamental problems. In this review article we provide a detailed overview of the traditional methods available for the preparation of hematite microparticles of different shapes, devoting special attention on some of the most common hiccups that could hider a successful synthesis. We furthermore review the particles' most important physico-chemical properties and their most relevant applications in the soft matter field.