Beauty Comes Clean: The Truth About Mica
Mica is an ingredient that’s widely used in cosmetics to create the shimmery glow we all know and love. But, the mica industry can come with some serious transparency issues. So we decided to do something about it. Follow our journey—and get involved.
First of all, what is it? Mica is a mineral name given to a group of silicate minerals—there are over 37 types of mica.
Where Is It Used?
Mica is used across many different industries, such as automotive, electronics and plastics. In the beauty industry, mica is used as a base for powder formulations and to help achieve that shimmery look.
Where Does Mica Come From?
Mica can be found all over the world. It is mined through various extraction methods and both informal and formal mining operations. Informal mines are often illegal mines, and formal mines frequently use forced labor in their production. Not all mining is created equal, which is why our team has been traveling the world all year conducting on-the-ground audits of our supply chain.
What Are The Challenges?
If you want high-performing color cosmetics, you need mica. But the mica industry can come with 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. We’ve witness continued reporting on these serious human rights abuses—and sadly, there hasn’t been substantial progress on the ground. So, we took a deep dive into our supply chain to confirm that, together with our suppliers, we are upholding the “responsible” part of our sourcing.
We sought out three partnerships to validate our global mica supply chain:
Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation
This organization is named after the Nobel Peace Laureate for his work in eradicating child labor. Beautycounter is committed to transforming the way the mica industry works, starting with the people that help bring the product to market. We’re proud to be designing a custom program with Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation to support children in the region while working to better understand the industry’s challenges and opportunities for change and traceability.
This technology platform was founded at MIT and is helping us map our entire supply chain. This gives us visibility to exactly where our mica is sourced—mine by mine, day by day. In a super-secretive industry, this information isn’t easy to come by. We’re looking forward to being able to share information about which mines were used to create your favorite highlighter and eyeshadow. Stay tuned for a fully traceable supply chain.
While mica is a globally sourced material, we strongly prefer to source domestically. We work closely with our supplier in Hartwell, Georgia to ensure that they’re using industry-leading practices for sustainable mining and processing. For our additional suppliers, we’re working to further secure and trace their mica through our partnership with Sourcemap and on-the-ground audits.
Come Clean With Us
We all have the power to help shift the mica industry towards responsible sourcing. Listed below are ways to get involved: