Makeup set with a contruction helmet and glove, symbolizing child labor in the makeup industry

Mica Ethics: The Child Labor Cost of Shimmer

Children may have died so you can have some shimmer in your makeup or soap. This happens in regions of the world where the children are used to help support their families financially. These children are primarily a victim of circumstance, they have no choice but to enter the workforce by illegally mining micas in unsafe and abandoned mines. 

Mica is a term used to describe a group of silicate minerals that are characterized by their sheet-like structure. These minerals are typically formed in various types of rock. Mica is known for its excellent flaking or splitting properties, splitting into thin, flexible, yet durable glossy sheets. Due to these properties, mica is used in a variety of applications including electrical insulators, cosmetics, paint, fillers for plastics, soaps, and other materials.

Mica can come in two forms. The first form is naturally occurring from the earth, developed in rock deposits and mined. The second form is synthetically grown in a lab. This leads to a dilemma for businesses that require mica for their products. The issue being a forced decision of using natural or synthetic micas.

We at Blnded Bliss LLC have made this decision ourselves, we choose to not use micas in our soaps in any amount. We used to buy from retailers who sold only ethically sourced mica (so we did include this in our ingredient list on our soap labels). Even if you are buying mica from companies that have not sourced their mica from organizations or regions that use child labor, it might still contain mica mined by a child without that organization's knowledge because this practice is so wide-spread it's almost impossible to tell. We would love to use micas if not for the connections it has to rampant international child labor. 

We wanted to go further than just making this ethical decision about which type of mica to use and why, we are choosing to also educate others about this problem. If we can collectively influence the market, rejecting mica mined off the blood, sweat, and tears of children, then we can make a marginal difference. A marginal difference is better than no difference and a step in the right direction. With all this said, let us take a look at some facts which will help illustrate the scale of this problem.

 Map of countries where child labor is supported

Figure 1. Mica Producing Countries Classified by Risk (of child labor). Adapted from “Global Mica Mining,” by SOMO, 2018 (


SOMO and Terre des Hommes are organizations which did studies on this problem in 2016 and 2018. The initial investigations by SOMO and Terre des Hommes in 2015 highlighted the involvement of around 22,000 children in mica mining operations within the Indian regions of Jharkhand and Bihar, which contributed in exposing the link between mica sourced from India and severe child labor practices. According to SOMO, a country's substantial mica imports from places like Madagascar and India, where child labor in mica mining is a concern, is an identifier of its contribution to child labor issues. The report identified China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Russia as key intermediaries, linking the global market to mica associated with child labor, thereby posing a risk for companies sourcing mica or mica-containing products from these nations in having child labor within their supply chains (SOMO, 2018)[1].


The inception of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1919 was a direct outcome of the Versailles Peace Treaty, partially fulfilling long-standing aspirations of 19th-century labor and social movements for enhanced living conditions and social justice for the global workforce (Moeskops, Nobel Prize, 1969)[2].

The ILO adopted a treaty, referred to formally as Convention 182 (informally as the “Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999), to ratify across all UN states protections for child labor. The ILO's Convention 182 aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, which is very relevant to mica mining, especially in countries like India where child labor is prevalent. By adhering to this Convention, countries and industries, including the mica mining sector, are compelled to take measures to identify, prevent, and eliminate child labor within their operations. Therefore, the principles of Convention 182 could be applied to mica mining to combat child labor, improve working conditions, and uphold the rights of children, aligning the industry with international labor standards and human rights norms.

Child labor is not confined to India alone and sadly is still rampant there, in a country that banned child labor in 1986. Another large contributor to child labor in mica mining is Madgascar, and there are others as well. Identifying these sources and boycotting them is the only ethical choice.

This is all why we do not use mica products in any form.



 [1] SOMO. (2018). Global Mica Mining.
[2] Nobel Prize. (1969). The History of the International Labour Organization.
[3] Moeskops, S. (2018). Child labour in Indian companies that are part of global supply chains: Literature review from a labour law & CSR perspective. Labour Law and Social Policy.
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1 comment

Muy buen artículo… Referencia si es posible para comprar Micas con prosedencia ética, gracias!


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