Mica- a shiny mineral that is relatively soft and malleable
Blistered hands, hair caked with dirt, rough faces. These are the children who chip away at pieces of rock to find an elusive material: mica, which is used from nail polish to concealer to add a tinge of sparkle. The mica adds glitter to powders, mascara and lipsticks of top global brands like L’Oreal and Revlon.
Instead of going to school, like many in 1st world countries, these children work hard everyday to help their families for the bare necessities, like food ,water, and a roof on their heads.The families of the children who collect the mica often sell it to small traders who in turn sell it to big suppliers.
Children in India enduring child labor often injure themselves with the pickaxes, while fine mica dust enter their eyes and chest, causing chronic health problems. During the annual monsoon season in India, they risk snake bites and being buried alive by collapsing piles of slack.
“We know mica is used in powder and lipstick,” said Pushpa Kumari, whose weathered features belie her 13 years. “It makes women look prettier,” she said. “But look what it does to us.”
However, cosmetic companies such as Estee Lauder and Chanel have recently joined organizations to help fund the education of children going back to schools, and cancel out child labor.