What is Mica?
“The word mica, from the Latin micare—to shine, flash, or glitter
actually refers to a group of 37 crystalline (silicate) minerals that have dozens of industrial applications and are used to add shimmer to everything from car paints to cosmetics. ” – Jacelyn C. Zuckerman, MarieClarie.com
Muscovite Mica, specifically in cosmetics is classified as a silicate. Naturally forming on earth, it is found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.
Why is Mica in Cosmetics?
Mica as an ingredient can be found in numerous cosmetics. Due to its characteristic of shine and shimmer, Mica is used as a color additive to products to enhance their overall appearance. High quality ground Mica, also known as a mineral dust, can be found in the following but not limited to:
- Eye shadow
- Hair and body glitter
- Lip gloss
- Nail Polish
Why is Mica Controversial?
Mica in its purest form does contain trace amounts of heavy metals. This poses a threat those involved in the mining and manufacturing process of Mica. Prolonged exposure can cause shortness of breath, coughing and lung irritation.
60% of the high quality Mica that is used in cosmetics is mined in India. of that percent, 70% of those mines are operating illegally.
Global Mica Mining and the Impact on Children’s Rights, is a study done by Terre De Hommes. The study was conducted in March of 2018 highlighting the magnitude of child labor exploitation in Mica. At the time, there was a reported 22,000 children working in Mica Mines.
In May 2019, Refinery29 posted an article written by Lexy Lebsack. They shared the story of Pooja Bhurla, an 11 year old girl who works for roughly 35 cents a day in a Mica mine in India. The conditions in the mine are brutal with poor safety regulations. The constant exposure to the raw mica as well as the unstable conditions of the work environment puts Pooja and thousands of children at risk.
What YOU can do
As much as we enjoy product it is also our responsibility to know where it comes from. Arming yourself with knowledge is crucial to making a positive change. Be mindful of the products you consume, do your research. Boycotting the use of Mica in the cosmetic industry is not the solution. Despite the poor circumstances, Thousands of families in India rely on the sourcing of Mica to provide for their families.
There are cosmetic companies out there who are aware of this situation and are doing their best to prevent the use of child labor and seek out more sustainable and ethical sourcing methods. There is still a percentage of Mica that is mined outside of India as well as mines in India that are operating legally. The best thing to do in this situation is to be conscious and be kind.
Shine in a different way and donate today if you can. Every little bit helps.
Below are three organizations working to protect children from the exploitation of child labor:
Terre Des Hommes
If you are aware of any other foundations that are working towards a solution, please feel free to leave their link in the comments down below.
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Help spread awareness.