Udayavni Special

The Dark secret behind your favourite Makeup products

Team Udayavani, Sep 12, 2020, 11:45 AM IST

Makeup and other cosmetic products have become an inevitable part of our lives. Also, today, cosmetic products like highlighters, eye shadows are used daily and are widely popular for its ‘glow’. But many people are unaware of what really happens in the background of such products.

From nail polish to lipstick, Mica is found in cosmetics that we use every day.


Mica is a glimmering silicate mineral that has a layered structure. It has various properties and multiple uses. Due to its high thermal resistance, it is an excellent industrial insulation material.

It is often found mixed up with granite or rocks like crystals and is used famously for day-to-day products such as paint, electronics, and cosmetics.

Its shiny and glittery appearance makes it ultimate for cosmetics. They have reflective properties, allowing for a shimmery effect in mineral foundations

The mined mica splittings are processed into various mica products. This fabrication results in built-up mica and sheet mica, both of which have a broad range of applications in various settings.

Mica Mining in India

The dark side of mica is the mining of it. India is one of the foremost suppliers of mica to the world. India single-handedly accounts for a large portion of the world`s export of mica splitting and block mica

The Jharkhand state in India has 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 local Santhal tribal population is completely dependent on mica mining to earn its livelihood. Children as young as 5 years old are working in mines in order to get the mineral

According to The Guardian, in July 2016, even beauty brands dedicated to cleaning up their mica supply chains have struggled due to the difficulty in tracing the true origins of the mineral.

Mica is bought by intermediaries, resulting in the mixing of legal and illegal mica which is then sold on to processing companies, whilst poor social conditions exacerbate the issue.

The raw material excavated by the kids will be collected by a broker who sells it to an exporter, who then delivers it to a manufacturer, typically in China. It is then milled into fine, pearly pigment that is purchased by international beauty companies to add a reflective finish to eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, and more.

In August 2019, a couple got buried and killed when a mica mine collapsed in Santganwa area of Koderma district where the husband and wife were collecting mica scrap. In 2016, six children died in mica mines within a period of three months.

Also, a report, ‘Child labour in mica mines of Koderma & Giridih districts of Jharkhand’, by Ranchi-based non-profit, Child in Need Institute, has recorded 45 known deaths due to mica mine accidents in five years. Some other unconfirmed reports allege 10-20 deaths per month in collapsed mica tunnels.

Although mica mining is officially banned in Jharkhand, in the absence of any alternate source of livelihood, local villagers continue to descend into mines to look for mica scrap.


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