With Christmas fast approaching we are all wanting to find those perfect gifts for our loved ones.

We thought we would take this opportunity to talk about that pretty ingredient MICA POWDER. You will most likely discover it in a lot of those gorgeous shimmery products and unknowingly purchase them anyway. In this blog, you’ll learn about how ugly being beautiful can be and why you should use a brand that can guarantee its supply chain and ethical practices.

What is Mica Powder?

Mica occurs naturally on the earth’s surface and is made up of Magnesium, Potassium, and Iron and is packed with Silica. It’s the name given to a group of minerals that are physically and chemically similar. They are all Silicate minerals known as sheet silicates because of the way they form, which is in distinct layers. Micas are light and feel quite soft, the sheets and flakes of Mica are flexible making it easy to grind into Mica Powder. There are 37 different types of Mica the most include Purple Lepidolite, Black Biotite, Brown Phlogopite, and Clear Muscovite.

A light brown rock formed in sheets.Image from en.wikipedia.org 

 What is Mica used for?

As Mica comes from a large group of minerals that are used in several areas in industries its advanced properties make Mica suitable for use in various places such as.

  • It is used in paints as a pigment extender and it also helps brighten the tone of coloured pigments.
  • It is a fantastic insulator in the electrical industry, it is used for thermal insulation and is used for electronic insulators in electrical equipment.
  • Its beautiful shiny, glittery appearance is a must-have in the cosmetic world.
  • It’s used for fillers and extenders as it provides smoother uniformity, improving workability, and prevents cracking.
  • It can be used as an insulator for the home attics, concrete blocks and can also be poured into open-top walls.
  • It can be added to grease to increase its durability and provide it with a better surface.
  • It can be used as a soil conditioner, particularly in potting soil mixes and in gardening.
  • Mica is suitable for a number of other things too such as jewelry making, media projects, DIY projects, arts and crafts.

So, if your make-up, nail varnish, lipstick, blusher, or even your new pot of paint has a shimmer to them they most likely contain Mica.

So, what’s the problem with Mica?

It is estimated that 25% of the world’s production of Mica is sourced from illegal mines. According to Terre Des Hommes (TDH) Netherlands: The work is exhausting, hazardous, and jeopardising the workers health. The children cannot attend school and will therefore be trapped in a vicious cycle of exploitation.

Long-term inhalation of Mica dust may cause lung scarring which leads to symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, weakness, and weight loss. While Mica can be found all around the world, India makes up 60% of global Mica production.

SLAVERY – The states of Jharkhand and Bihar in Eastern India are accountable for roughly 25% of the global Mica production, scary thing is both of these regions are on their knees with poverty. Research shows that 33.7% of the population in Bihar live well below the poverty line, which means slavery is a huge issue. Children are extremely vulnerable and are a target for slavery as they seek work to help support their families. The quarry owners use high-interest rates and violence to trap and enslave these families for generations. Child labour is excessive in India’s Mica mining business. Due to the majority of Mica production being unregulated, slavery continues. The country produces around 15,000 tons of crude and scrap Mica a year- but in the years 2011-2012 they exported 130,000 tons.

What Is Mica mining?

Imagine this… up to 20,000 children are estimated to be forced to work in mines, 90% of which are illegal. Children as young as 5 years old have been found in these dreadful mines. They do jobs such as chiseling for Mica using hammers in mine shafts that quite often collapse. Smashing big chunks of Mica into small rocks to help break it up and carrying baskets upon baskets of rocks to the very top of the mines to sort through the contents. More sickening news is the fact that, on average, one kilogram of Mica can be sold for $1000. Then these children will only take as little as 77 cents back to their desperate families. Yes. 77 cents they earn whilst they’re put at severe risk of snake and scorpion bites, they suffer terrible cuts, skin infections, and respiratory illnesses such as Bronchitis, Silicosis, and Asthma. It is estimated that every month 5-10 children die in these mines alongside even more adults.

You can read more about child labor in Mica mines in this article from Refinery29.

So, who is involved?

Centre Dan Watch research tells us that twelve out of sixteen international cosmetic companies do not disclose where their Mica comes from. 7 of the companies support standards which include child slavery according to their official communication. The problem stems from Mica being sold to a middleman who will then do business with these larger companies, and they will hide behind the fact that they do not know or deal directly with child labour or slavery. This is unacceptable.

Here is a list of brands that have been linked to India’s Mica mines:

  • Estee Lauder
  • Mac
  • Rimmel
  • Bobbi Brown
  • Clinique
  • Toofaced
  • Schwartzkopf
  • Intercos
  • Sun Chemicals
  • Tesco
  • Asda
  • BMW
  • Vauxhall
  • Audi

The last 3 companies may come as a surprise but remember; Mica is also used to make glitter car paint.

Finally, L’Oreal. One of the world’s most notable, and second-largest cosmetic company.

These huge middleman companies are the biggest buyers for Mica, they supply to the companies listed above and regularly source unethical Mica.

What can be done to help?

If you are a business or purchasing from a business, it doesn’t matter how big or how small, take the time to learn where the Mica in the product has come from. Make sure these companies can ethically trace their supply. Research companies who strive on only Ethically Sourced or synthetic Mica.

Here is a list of companies, like us, who go that bit further to make sure they practice what they preach.

  • Pure Agenda A Canadian natural cosmetic and skincare.
  • Clove + hallow A Vegan makeup brand (child labour free).
  • Au Naturale A clean beauty cosmetic line, they source a synthetic Mica when they can’t guarantee a child labour-free trace.
  • Aether Beauty A vegan, clean beauty brand who source their Mica from the US or Malaysia (these countries have enforced ethical labour standards which prevent the use of child labour).
  • Red Apple Lipstick A gluten-free, vegan, natural beauty brand that again sources from the US, Canada, and Europe (all of which are no child labour and are fair earnings for the workers).

When we first started Essench we brought Mica from a supplier to make our Bath Bombs, not knowing then what we know now. Our Mica supplier could not guarantee us that the Mica was ethically sourced, so we stopped purchasing it. We took the time to research and educate ourselves with companies that could guarantee where and how their Mica was sourced. That’s when we found our supplier Resin 8. RESIN 8 is a fantastic, friendly, ethically sourced company that can assure you that their Mica powders are 100% ETHICALLY SOURCED, 100% PURE COLOUR, 100% VEGAN FRIENDLY, 100% COSMETIC GRADE, 100% CRUELTY-FREE, 100% NATURAL.

A silver tray holding small piles of colourful mica powder


On the run-up to Christmas, we can all get a bit lost and forgetful of facts that really do matter. We all need to become a little more conscious about where we purchase our goods. Realigning our mindset is how great changes begin. Support small, ethical businesses this season. At Essench we really do care about what goes inside our products and where it comes from.

Have yourself a guilt-free, wonderful Christmas.