Mica is the name given to a series of minerals based on silicates (substances made out of the elements silica and oxygen). Mica has unique physical properties because of its structure - it is formed, in nature, as layers that can be split into thin sheets. It can also be ground into a powder.
Mica is used by many industries, but in cosmetic products it is added to powdered cosmetics, such as eyeshadows, as a filler because it has excellent smoothness and so makes the eyeshadow easy to apply and also gives sparkle.
It is added to other cosmetic products - such as mascaras, lipsticks, body lotions, shampoos and bath oils - because it provides a beautiful lustre and sheen. Mica can also provide further 'depth' to certain pigments, and it gives a highly pearlised effect.
The cosmetics industry is committed to sourcing mica sustainably. Developing nations are confronted with many difficulties and individual companies have codes of conduct in place that take into account the communities with which they work. Cosmetic manufacturers also work with their suppliers to create local sustainable sources wherever possible. This helps to avoid practices where people of all ages could be exploited and seeks to introduce labour standards which preclude the employment of children.
Companies often work with organisations, such as NGOs and charities, on specific initiatives in the countries affected in order to avoid exploitation and improve the circumstances of the local communities to raise awareness of the role of education, healthcare and childcare.
One such example is a cross-sector association called the ''Responsible Mica Initiative - towards a responsible Indian mica supply chain". This is a close collaboration between private, public and non-profit sectors, launched with the aim of achieving a 100% responsible mica supply chain in India over 5 years.
We look forward to this initiative making a difference. It is though widely recognised that changing illegal practice requires a concerted effort by all concerned acting with the relevant authorities to help provide responsible working conditions.
The cosmetics industry is committed to making positive contributions to the communities where products are manufactured and sourced in full respect of local and international legislation, while of course producing safe and effective products which meet the needs of consumers.