Mica and child labour in focus due to Lush’s latest stand

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Mica and child labour in focus due to Lush’s latest stand

Related tags Supply chain

The recent commitment by British cosmetics brand Lush to replace the mica in its products with a synthetic alternative has thrown a spotlight onto the sourcing of the popular iridescent ingredient.

Lush’s move responds to concerns that the absence of child labour in the sourcing of mica in Indian mines cannot be confirmed, according to the brand.

With media scrutiny of the sourcing of mica increasing, many other brands including Estée Lauder and L’Oréal note they have already been maximising opportunities to secure their supply chains against the risk of child labour involvement.

Mica mines

The dangerous nature of the mines rendering independent auditing impossible results in the inability for companies to confirm that child labourers are definitely not involved in their mica supply.

India produces about 60% of the world’s total mica supply, and the cosmetics industry is a major consumer of the mineral, with its wide use in mineral cosmetics, and its shiny nature behind the ‘shimmer’ effect in many products.

Lush explained its decision to pull the ingredient in a statement to Cosmetics Design.

We were shocked when we were recently told that a high percentage of India's mica exports were unregulated. While we have started using synthetic alternatives, really we would like to be able to get a mica that was mined correctly​.”

Already sourcing responsibly

While Lush’s move follows recent media focus on the mica regulation, the wider cosmetics industry has already been making moves to secure the supply chain for several years.

Chemical specialist Merck, one of the main suppliers to beauty giant L’Oréal, states it has been working on the issue since commissioning a study in 2008.

The Merck Social Charter explicitly bans child labour. Merck has implemented all necessary steps to ensure compliant sourcing and to ensure that no children are involved in the processing of the pigment​,” the company says.

L’Oréal confirmed it has long been committed to tackling the issue.

Since 2009 when L’Oréal was first alerted that there was a possibility of child labour in the collection of mica in India, the Group has worked closely with its suppliers to secure its supply chain of mica against any such risk,​” the beauty brand said.

Looking elsewhere

Alongside sourcing India’s mica with a better secured supply chain, brands have also responded to the mica question by looking to other geographical sources for their supply.

Cosmetics company Estée Lauder and its associated brands told The Sydney Morning Herald that the amount of Indian origin mica used in their products constitutes less than 10% of their overall consumption.

L’Oréal has also been making these moves, stating; “The Group has also significantly lowered its supply of mica sourced in India, in favour of other geographical sources (namely the United States)​.”

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