At Cloud Beauty, we believe in complete transparency. Part of this is showing the bad as well as the good, and how we are working towards changing the world one step at a time.
Mica is mined primarily by children as young as 5 years old in Africa, India, and Asia. These children are small enough to fit down into the narrow tunnels and holes in the ground. It is backbreaking work and they are paid very little. Many of these mines are illegal, and owned by foreign entities in countries such as China.
As a makeup brand owner, I use mica in literally all of my formulations. I buy all my micas from companies such as Just Pigments, TKB Trading, and Making Cosmetics. I also rarely buy mica directly from Chinese suppliers. I do try to use mica substitutes, like synthetic mica, whenever I can, but synthetic mica does not perform the same as natural mica and is much more expensive.
As someone who cares deeply about social justice, I am constantly trying to source products as ethically as possible. In an industry where most of the raw supplies are controlled by China, a country notorious for lies and obfuscation, it can be very difficult to trace the source of mica back to the actual mine. This practice is slowly becoming easier, but it is still an uphill climb. It is up to the makeup industry and its consumers to demand transparency.
So we have to reach a compromise. While it is terrible that children are forgoing educations and their childhoods to work in dangerous mines, they also do this to support their families. If we stop buying mica, these families will be far worse off than they already are. If the companies running the mines pull out completely they will decimate the communities. This is why, at this point in time, sourcing mica from legal, licensed mines is our best option. Like I said, the obfuscation of the sources by middlemen suppliers makes this kind of sourcing extremely difficult, but not impossible.
As makeup companies and consumers keep pushing for an industry overhaul, things will change for these children. It will be a slow process, but already strides have been made. I can promise you that Cloud Beauty will remain a transparent and ethically-minded company, and I encourage other brands, big and small, to continue moving forward until real change is reached.
If you would like to read more, here are some links: