If you’re anything like me, you find joy in picking out makeup and beauty products, creating new looks, and having fun within the world of makeup. If you don’t particularly care for buying and wearing makeup, that’s okay, but we might have another factor in common: caring about human rights. How are the two linked? Mica.
If you don’t know, mica is a sheet mineral and it is a great compound to use in a variety of purposes because of its properties. It is elastic, flexible, hydrophilic, insulating, lightweight, platy, reflective, refractive, resilient, ranges in opacity, and more. For this reason, mica is a high demand ingredient for beauty products, such as blushes, eye liner, eye shadow, foundation, hair and body glitter, lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, moisturizing lotions, nail polish, and even toothpaste. So what’s the issue with mica?
According to the British Geological Survey, the Jharkhand state in India had the largest deposits of mica in the world in 2005, but has been rivaled by Madagascar, a large producer of sheet mica.
To be frank, I did not even know that mica mining was an issue until I read this article by Refinery29. According to the article and a report by Terres de Hommes, an estimated 22,000 children work in the mica mines of the Indian states of Jharkhand and Bihar, and at least 10,000 children work in the Madagascar mining sector. The reality of this situation is that for many of the families involved in mining, survival depends on child labor and family work. With few other economic opportunity for the families, children as young as 5 years old may go to work in the mines. The conditions in the mines are dangerous, crushing children, causing disease due to inhaling dust, and on top of that, there is a lack of medical care and compensation for those who are injured or suffer fatalities. According to an article by insideover.com, “… promised compensation payments of between 30,000 to 100,000 rupees (£320 – £1000) for the loss of a child are frequently missed or forgotten, leaving families not only without their loved ones but bereft of a sustainable source of income.”
So, when I learned this information, it left me feeling hopeless, shocked at the reality of our world, and yearning to do something, anything. Maybe I can’t take the next flight to the nearest mica mine and physically stop child exploitation. However, as an American consumer, there are steps I can take towards change.
Firstly, learn which cosmetic brands take pride in transparency regarding mica sourcing. I took to this Reddit post to gain some insight, and I learned the following:
*Please note that the information presented in the above images was taken directly from this Reddit post, and should be cross-referenced with your own supplementary research and findings, or may have been updated or changed since the original posting.
Secondly, as a consumer, once you have completed your own research, you have the choice of purchasing from the companies that fit your cause. This means that if you want to help solve the issues associated with mica mining, you can choose to support brands who have confirmed ethical mica sources. You might not feel like your single contribution helps, but it is a step in the right direction.
Lastly, you can donate or plan fundraisers for groups like KSCF, Terre des Hommes, or BBA, or you can start a petition on change.org. You also have the power to use social media platforms, such as WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to get in direct contact with the brands, or start a public thread and get people talking.
*Disclaimer: The points and citations presented in this blog have been curated from the sources linked, and are paraphrases and summaries of my own research, and may not be credible or up to date. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I encourage you to do your own research and do not rely on one source.