What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products?

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products? The makeup industry’s darkest secret is hiding in your makeup bag.

The reality behind the bitter truth regarding the mica mines in India, to expose the reality about child labor rings behind this mineral.

Mica, an ingredient used in most makeup products is mined by Indian children! This is truly heartbreaking.

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products?


What is Mica?

Mica is a shiny silicate mineral with a layered structure, found as minute scales in granite and other rocks, or as crystals.

Mica is a colorless, odorless solid that easily flakes into powder.

Mica is one of the most important mineral ingredients in cosmetics, used widely to add shimmer and sparkle.

It is typically used in industrial settings as electrical insulation, and in the production of roofing shingles, wallpaper, paint, plastics, even toothpaste and largely in the cosmetics industry.

Because it is naturally produced it is a particularly well-loved ingredient among organic and natural beauty brands and is safe to use on almost all skin types with little to no side effects. However, the dark side of mica is the mining of it. 

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products?

Mica the dark side of your makeup product

Makeup and other cosmetic products have become an inevitable part of our lives. Today, favorite cosmetic products, such as highlighters, glitters are used daily and are widely used because of their beauty and shine.

Go through your makeup bag and look through the ingredients list and you may be surprised to find out that a lot of those products contain Mica.

But what really happens in the background of such products?

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products? Children as young as 5 years old are working in mines in order to get the mineral called “mica.” That mineral is what provides the shimmer that you see in so many makeup products.

Seeing the conditions in which these kids and their families are living is extremely hard to see.

The cosmetics industry has a huge demand for shimmer in makeup. For example, highlighter is one of the products that has become very popular where mica is usually an important ingredient.

Now the question arise is where from this mica comes? Most of the world’s mica comes from India. 

The Jharkhand state in India had the largest deposits of mica in the world, however the abundance of poverty in the region has led to widespread child labour in its mining.

The 2016 Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed that it was being mined by children and had a deadly cost.

It forced the beauty industry to take action. Companies such as Chanel, Estee Lauder, and L’Oreal have said they will work with the mining communities in India to create a sustainable supply chain.

Lush is one of the companies that has pulled out of mica completely. In fact, they now use synthetic mica in their products where there is more variety.

Wherefrom Mica extracted?

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products? The mica industry is worth half a billion dollars and India is at its center. It has the worlds largest and highest quality mica.

Jharkhand is one of the mining states with reserves of copper, coal, and mica.

Illegal and unregulated mica mines dominate the trade in rural areas of this state. Lots of the mines are abandoned and scavenged. The others are run by illegal operators.

The children sift the mica through as it’s mixed with gravel. Then they’ll take the mica out where it is then taken to somebody who will ship it overseas.

Many of the families don’t have any other option, but to do this for their sirvival. Some of the children started working in the mines at age five.

After the mica leaves the mine, it is funneled into a process that conceals the fact that children ever had anything to do with it. 

Traders pedal the mica to intermediaries who often sell it under the license of a legal mine from another part of the country. By the time the mica is exported, its illicit origins have been stripped away.

Unfortunately back in Jharkhand, it’s impossible to escape the realities of the trade and the risks that go with it.

For example cuts and broken bones, respiratory illnesses that can damage or possibly scar the lungs, and sadly sometimes death. It’s estimated to be ten to 20 deaths that occur every month.

Natural and synthetic mica

A natural mica mineral can be found in nature. There are many types of mica and it can be found all over the world, but in recent years the cosmetic industry gives India’s favor for good quality. It is used in various industries, in all colors of cars, inks, edible shrubs, as well as in cosmetics.

On the other hand, synthetic fluorflogopit, better known as synthetic mica, mimics the effect of natural mica but is created in a laboratory. Such as natural, synthetic alternative provides a touch of shimmer in make-up. Despite the fact that this substance was made by man, the synthetic mica is a safe alternative to plastic shimmer.

Synthetic mica is characterized by a much lighter color, and since it is synthesized in the laboratory, it is high in purity and is not contaminated with heavy metals such as natural mica.

The harmful effects of powdered Mica

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products?

Mica is a colorless, odorless solid that easily flakes into powder. As a powder, it is pearlescent and satiny – a quality that also makes it a common ingredient in mineral cosmetics where it provides a glittery effect.

Though mica is harmless as a solid, its powder or dust can cause both short and long term health problems.

The adverse effects of Mica on health

Acute Health Effects

# In some people, mica can have the immediate effect of irritating the eyes and skin, causing redness and itching.

# Inhaling mica can cause wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath as it irritates the mucous membranes lining the lungs.

# For contact with the eyes or skin, the area should be flushed with clean water for at least 15 minutes.

# In cases of inhalation causing acute symptoms, the person should be moved to a space with fresh air and given oxygen if breathing is difficult.

Chronic Health Effects

# Repeated high exposure to mica can cause fibrosis in the lungs, where the constant irritation from inhaling mica dust causes scarring of the lung tissue.

# This results in the chronic coughing and shortness of breath typical of pneumoconiosis, a disease often seen in people who work in mines where they are exposed to coal dust.

# The carcinogenic effects of mica are unclear, but considering other known health effects it is probably best to avoid exposure as much as possible.

Prevention before exposure to Mica

What is the dark secret behind your favorite makeup products?

# Wearing protective clothing, gloves, goggles and face masks when working with mica is the best way to avoid skin contact and inhalation.

# Protective gear should not be taken home, instead it should be washed on site every day.

# Using engineering controls such as isolation and proper ventilation of work sites is also essential for reducing exposure.


Natural mica itself is not a problem, but the ethical issues surrounding it are related to mineral gain. As already stated, the cosmetic industry preferred Indian mica because of the quality.

The problem arises in obtaining minerals in India, where exploitation of children is present.

Children and young people are forced to mine (without proper protection) in difficult conditions to feed their family, and in such conditions often suffer from various types of injury, respiratory tract, disease, and often death.

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