Child Labor & Mica – What The Beauty Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know

Everyone loves sparkly makeup. And the secret to that shimmer? It’s mica. Mica is a globally sourced mineral used in many of our day-to-day products—from automotive paints, to electronics, to beauty formulas. Mica is the beauty industry go-to for creating that shimmery glow we all know and love (think highlighters, eyeshadows, and pressed powders).

If you want high-performing color cosmetics, you need mica. But the mica industry is known for some alarming and unethical practices. For decades there has been public outcry around corruption in mica mining, including child labor, forced labor, and wage theft.

Mica: The Cosmetic Industry’s Dirty Secret

According to this Refinery29 article, “Mica linked to child labor is littered throughout the cosmetics industry — taking up residency in everything from high-end eyeshadows palettes to drugstore lipsticks. Listed as ‘mica,’ ‘potassium aluminium silicate,’ and ‘CI 77019,’ on ingredient lists, it’s what gives body lotion or eye cream a light glow, makes toothpaste look extra bright, or provides BB cream with a subtle radiance. Unlike chunky glitter often made from plastic, mica’s delicate shimmer is one of the pillars of modern makeup — and 60% of the high-quality mica that goes into cosmetics comes from India, mostly from neighboring regions of Bihar and Jharkhand, where child mining and worker exploitation is the norm.”

BeautyCounter Cleans Up Mica Supply Chain

While some cosmetics companies look the other way after getting a killer deal on the natural pigment, the solution for brands who don’t want to be associated with child labor isn’t as simple as pulling out of problematic countries and sourcing mica elsewhere. That’s because abandoning the existing sources leaves communities economically worse off.

As a leader in clean beauty, BeautyCounter is taking the lead on the mica issue. The company recently issued a statement saying “It’s not enough for us to only use safer ingredients. We’re committed to going beyond clean to become the first beauty brand with a fully traceable mica supply chain. Our team spent over a year traveling the world conducting on-the-ground audits to make sure people who mine our ingredients are safe and treated with respect.”

In addition to personally auditing all of their mica suppliers, BeautyCounter teamed up with two partners to validate their supply chain: the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (named after the Nobel Prize-winning advocate for children’s rights) and Sourcemap, a technology platform developed by MIT to provide brands with additional traceability of their products

BeautyCounter also produced this 12-minute documentary titled “Transparency: The Truth About Mica” that exposes many of the issues in the mica supply chain and tells consumers how and where to take action.

Learn more about BeautyCounter’s actions to source mica responsibly HERE.

Appalled? Three Ways To Get Involved

  • Share the mica documentary.
  • Shop brands that are working to eradicate child labor.
  • Text MICA to 52886 to ask our government leaders to act.


Mica, an ingredient that gives cosmetics their sparkle, is often mined using child labor. Learn how to ensure your beauty products are ethically sourced.
Mica, an ingredient that gives cosmetics their sparkle, is often mined using child labor. Learn how to ensure your beauty products are ethically sourced.

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