I remember the day I first applied some glittery eye shadow, I was awestruck and happy. I was feeling beautiful, I mean why shouldn’t I? It was shiny, it was sparkling and it felt like I gathered a bit of confidence too! The feeling in a single word was- “bloody gorgeous!”♥️. Yes, bloody indeed. Because little did I know the truth behind these sparkling beauty products! Little did I know I was not just applying makeup, I was rubbing invisible blood too!
Maybe we’ve always wanted to know why these beauty products are so shiny? The answer is- ” Mica“, a glittery mineral collected from mica mines around the world. And the invisible blood is smeared on it….
Before I reveal what is the “bloody secret“, let us just get brief information of what mica is, Its resources, and how it impacts the whole region and system. And then we’ll dive beyond the surface.
What is Mica?
According to the Britannica dictionary, mica is-
“any of a group of hydrous potassium, aluminum silicate minerals. It is a type of phyllosilicate, exhibiting a two-dimensional sheet or layer structure. Among the principal rock-forming minerals, micas are found in all three major rock varieties—igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.“
Formula- AB2–3(X, Si)4O10(O, F, OH)2
Color– it comes in different vibrant colors. Like purple, rosy, silver, gray (lepidolite); dark green, brown, black (biotite); yellowish-brown, green-white (phlogopite); colorless, transparent (muscovite).
This one is naturally occurring minerals in clusters. They represent phyllosilicate minerals and have a layered/platy surface. The commercially valuable micas are muscovite and phlogopite, which are used in a variety of applications.
Synthetic mica aims to replicate the effect and appearance of the Natural Mica, whilst alleviating the negative or toxic minerals that can be found in some naturally occurring minerals and also the human rights conditions and concerns associated with some of the mining of natural micas.
Synthetic Mica is the name generally used for a range of glistening pigments – blended creating Sparkly color in other products.
They are widely used for soap making; like- bathing Crystals, bath bombs, or make-up items (eye shadow, lip gloss, highlighter, blushes, and so on).
Note that Synthetic mica is way more expensive than Natural mica.
Where has it gone wrong?
A piece of information will make it more clear to you. The cosmetics industry is known to be the 4th largest buyer of mica after electronics, painting, and construction industries. It is found in almost every hair and beauty care stuff we use.
You may find them in the ingredients list labeled as C17709/ Muskovit/ Glimmer/ Potassium Aluminum Silicate etc.
★The problem is the sourcing of mica and the method of collecting them and the underprivileged laborers; especially underaged (even from 5-6years old children are forced to work there).
World’s biggest mica suppliers are-
1- China 780,000 780,000
2- Russian Federation 100,000 100,000
3- Finland 53,394 53,394
4- United States 48,100 48,100
5- Republic Of Korea 30,000 30,000
6- Canada 22,000 22,000
7- France 20,000 20,000
8- India 14,250 14,250
9- Argentina 10,000 10,000
10- Madagascar 9,600 9,600
11- Taiwan, Province Of China 8,931 8,931
12- Brazil 6,200 6,200
13- Islamic Republic Of Iran 5,000 5,000
14- Malaysia 4,000 4,000
15- Spain 3,850 3,850
16- Sri Lanka 3,000 3,000
17- South Africa 400 400
18- Sudan 160 160
19- Peru 90 90
(Source: United States Geological Survey Minerals Resources Program.)
The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s investigation shows some disturbing truth. Also, their findings were affirmed by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s child protection group Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) – or Save the Childhood Movement – which documented over 20 mica-related demises in June 2016 – including the death of Madan and two other minors – double the monthly standard.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan also discovered four children were killed in July 2016!
* Dutch campaign organization SOMO claims up to 20,000 children are involved in mica mining in Jharkhand and Bihar.
Ghost mines are those which have no legal approval but somehow are still functioning without the acknowledgment of the authority. Sometimes ghost mines are also referred to as abundant mines.
As we can see, most of the supplier countries are comparatively poor and underdeveloped. So, the labor is cheaper and easy to manipulate. The mica laborers earn only around 4 dollars after working the whole day!! But to know how this system functions? You’ll have to wait till part-2!!
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Nishat Azad Chua
Intern, content writing department