The Dark Secret Behind Your Favorite Makeup Products | Shady | Refinery29
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The Dark Secret Behind Your Favorite Makeup Products | Shady | Refinery29

Makeup can be a tool for liberation and expression. It can make us feel beautiful, but one of beauty’s most popular ingredients has a dark side. When children are the hidden cost in our cosmetics. Who’s stepping in to help them out? And who’s leaving them behind. We’re here in London on a press trip with
Lush Cosmetics. The British company invited us here to learn about an initiative surrounding one of the most controversial ingredients going into
makeup today. Mica. An unassuming mineral essential to modern
life. The property of heat and electrical resistance
makes this mineral invaluable. For decades it’s been used in everyday products
like electronics, insulation, paint, and even toothpaste. But over the past few years the cosmetics
industry’s demand for glowing radiant shimmer has exploded. From the perfect, no makeup makeup gleam,
to the blinding shine of a highlighter created for double taps. Mica is often a magic ingredient. But it also has an ugly side. The majority of the world’s mica comes from
India, where 2016 Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed that it was being mined
by children and had a deadly cost. The revelation forced the beauty industry
into a moral reckoning. Some companies have pledged to work with the
mining communities in India to create a sustainable supply chain. It’s a lofty goal. With progress that’s been slow to come by. Companies like Lush that have built a brand
on ethical sourcing have taken a different approach. Without a transparent supply chain, it decided
to pull out of natural mica altogether. This glittering shimmery effect is all the
synthetic mica. It looks pretty but I’m about to find out
that it’s more complicated than appearances might suggest. Much as I love sparkles, I didn’t want
anything put into a Lush product that you know could have had a death attached to it. The nice thing about the synthetic mica is
it has much more variety of the this sparkle that you can get in the pigment. So really there’s no reason to have natural
mica. It’s much more complicated in that natural
mica that’s a commodity which is in almost any product you use. You should not try to avoid mica. You should make sure that the families where
you buy the mica from as a company get decent wages get living wages. As corporations roll out initiatives with
promises of positive change. I’m curious to know how they’re actually impacting
the people and especially the children on the ground. Globally the mica industry is worth over half
a billion dollars. And India is at its center with the world’s
largest and highest quality reserves of mica. The majority of it can be found in the country’s
eastern states. We’re leaving New Delhi and we’re about to
take a sleeper train to a region called Jarkan. Which is where a lot of this mining is happening. Jharkhand is a mining state with rich reserves
of coal, copper, and of course mica. Most of the nearly 33 million residents live
in rural areas where illegal and unregulated mica mines dominate the trade. It’s been this way since the 1980s when restrictive
environmental laws drove the industry underground. It’s been a very long journey and we’re trying
to keep a low profile. Just because this is such a sensitive subject here. Now many of the mines are abandoned and scavenged,
while others are run by illicit operators. We’re finally getting close because you can
see all of the shimmer in the dirt. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen pretty dirt. I met up with Rohit Gandhi our local contact
who secured our access to the mine. Nice to meet you. Very nice to meet you as well. I’m gonna keep the cars ready just in case
any of these contractors who actually mined with these children come around. We should be ready to leave right away. Why would they be mad that we’re here? They know it’s illegal right to use children
in the trade for mining then obviously they’re against the law. Just a few steps off the road. I start to see them. Children. Hard at work, mining for mica. They sifted through up here. It’s all mixed with gravel, and then they’ll
sift it through and they’ll take the mica out and that then go and sell to somebody who will
then you know shipped overseas. Pooja Bhurla is only 11 years old and has been mining mica since she was eight. How many days are you out here per week? Every day? Do you ever get scared when you’re working
in the mines? Yes. Where are your parents right now? Jharkhand suffers from a classic case of the
resource curse. A phenomenon where areas with abundant resources
tend to be worse off for it thanks to government corruption, and commercial exploitation. Despite the fact that this area is rich in
mica and other minerals, Jharkhand has one of the highest poverty rates
in the entire country. Many of these children including Pooja make
less than a quarter a day. But it can mean the difference between something
to eat and an empty stomach. What are the other children in the town doing? It’s been estimated that up to 20,000 children are working all across the region
in mines just like these. Seeing these mines and meeting these children
it’s easy to understand why Lush wouldn’t want anything to do with mica. This is incredibly scary and I can’t even believe there’s
kids all the way down there. But it’s also painfully clear that these children
have no alternative. Can you tell me how old you were when you
first started working in the mines? If you didn’t have to mine, what would you
be doing today? Do you have any idea where the mica goes after
you mine it? Wait someone’s…who’s coming? We had to take off really quickly from that
mine because we heard that people were coming cause they knew that we were there. The mica trade here is built on a facade that
it’s players have a stake in maintaining. Once the mica leaves the mine, it’s funneled
into a process that conceals the fact that children ever had anything to do with it. Traders pedal the mica to intermediaries who
often sell it under the licence of a legal mine from another part of the country. By the time the mica is exported, its illicit
origins have been stripped away. But back in Jharkhand, it’s impossible to
escape the realities of the trade and the risks that go along with it. Cuts and broken bones. Respiratory illnesses that can damage or even
scar the lungs. And sometimes, the unthinkable. Surma Kumari and her sister Laksmi were mining
one day when the tunnel they were working in collapsed. Can you show me where you got hurt in the
accident? Do you and your family still work in the mines? The Kumari Family story is a common
one. Lakshmi’s death is just one of an estimated
10 to 20 deaths that occur every month. The unregulated nature of mica opens the door
to dangerous work conditions and predatory pricing. Families are trapped in a cycle of poverty. How much would the companies that are buying
the mica have to pay you to be able to send Pooja to school? To be able to completely change your life. It really hit home. For better or worse, the choices that companies
and consumers make have the power to determine people’s lives. It made me look at my beauty products in a
totally new light. I’ve pulled out some of the products that
I use every single day. There’s mica in this. First ingredient. They all have mica in them. There’s mica in all of these products. While I don’t know if the mica in these
products specifically came from a mine that used child labor, there’s no transparency
in any of these supply chains involved with these products. These families all rely upon these mines and
they’ve been selling mica for a long time now. There has to be an ethical way to get mica
out of the ground. There has to be an ethical way to treat these
families and it’s hard not to feel responsibility. I wanted to know where the Indian government
was in all of this. It turns out, the National Commission for
the Protection of Child Rights, or NCPCR has been aware of the issue since at least 2016,
when its governing ministry lodged a complaint. When we reached out to them, they said they
were conducting a survey to understand the scope of the problem, and sent us to the ministry
that oversees their work. There is poverty and there is less spread
of education in these interior areas and our ministry is making all efforts to see that
child rights are protected. So we were just in Jharkhand and we saw children working in the mines that are young as five or six, but your department
is the one that’s surveying that. Is that enough that’s being done? Actually we are not aware of any such survey
that’s currently being done, as you say. We have been told that this committee is doing
the survey and that they’re under your jurisdiction. How is that– We have not authorized it. As far as this ministry goes, the ministry
of the women and child development, child labor is not exactly a mandate. It was alarming to realize that someone so
high up at the ministry, seemingly knew so little about this dire issue. While solutions may be slow to come from the
top, a movement on the ground is providing some hope. A model that’s been coined “the child
friendly village” is connecting parents to new income streams, so that their children
don’t have to work. So many kids. It’s a concept piloted by the Kailash Satyarthi
Children’s Foundation. And it’s working. More than 3,000 children have been rescued. More than three thousand children have been
withdrawn from child labor. And they have been enrolled in school. Funding comes through government services
and private business support, including beauty conglomerate Estee Lauder. We thought long and hard if we wanted to stay
in Indian mica, if we wanted to move towards synthetic. And where we ultimately landed is that it’s
important for us to have a stake. And having a stake means we will continue
to be there until this problem comes to a resolution. And it has been incredibly important to us
to always start these initiatives with the community itself. It has been a long term process. And everybody has a role and responsibility to play in addressing this whole issue. This gathering of child friendly villages
is a showcase of what’s possible when companies stay invested in the communities they work
with. Thank you. I feel very welcomed right now. My name is Champa Kumari. Champa. Lovely to meet you. Champa Kumari is part of the most important
and inspiring outcomes of these child friendly villages. The Child Parliament. At 14 years old, she’s a fierce champion
of illiminating child labor. What would you say to some of the companies
and consumers who are buying mica that come from child labor. What do you want to accomplish next? You want to become a teacher? Yeah. You’re a big picture thinker. I like it. Yeah. Promising to be mica free isn’t the only,
or even the best, answer. Mica is the lifeblood of this region, and
any solution that will make a real difference must acknowledge that. It’s empowering kids, like Pooja and Champa,
that will bring change and break the cycle that keeps this region and its children chained
to mica. Thanks for watching Refinery29. For more videos like this, click here. And to subscribe, click here.

About James Carlton

Read All Posts By James Carlton

100 thoughts on “The Dark Secret Behind Your Favorite Makeup Products | Shady | Refinery29

  1. This is insane and so wrong, those poor children doing all they can to put food on the table, that's just not right, also horrible that they don't earn a lot of money and are in such danger!

  2. 56 cents, something most people don't even think about could change this man's life and his family's. We have to take more responsibility with where our natural resources come from and how so that people can not just provide for their families but also benefit from the resources around them.

  3. Indian government, ministers, politicians only to full their pockets and during election they help give things money to fools public after once they win election they don't do anything for public even public having problems they close their eyes and ears

  4. I know alot of things make me sad but this, this right just completely broke my heart…..the poor babygirl said if she wants to eat she must work, and I'm complaining about no air and wifi, and these children are working for there life's, beg for education 😓

  5. And thats why globalisation is the worst thing ever happened to humanity. It allowed intelligent but extremely greedy and evil people to raise companies with such a high international success. They became so abnormally rich that their power and influence is stronger than some governments of entire states, forcing them to bow down to the absurdly cheap prices that this companies are willing to pay for their ingredients. Offering big companies these goods for those prices can only be achieved by paying workers such low money that they have no other choice than sending their children to work. Such powerful and influential companies wouldn’t exist if they would do their business just in their home countries because they would never achieve enough money and power. Oh, and of course it’s also unfair to us consumers: They sell us something for 100 bucks but the production value is like 5 bucks.

  6. Ang kulit ang saya nakainum ba kayo ng royal 🥰😘😍❤️✌️ here na ako tumambay na din po ako hope we can reach kung Anu mam ang ating mga pangarap sa pag vlog natin👍🏼🙏🏼

  7. I wish this channel would stop putting ads right in the middle of heartbreaking interviews. In this one exactly when the girl starts speaking about the accident in the mine, in the one about make up in North Korea in the middle of that woman’s story about her and her family being tortured by henchmen of NK‘s oppressive regime. It’s distasteful. I get that they need the ad revenue, but have some class.

  8. Thank you for making this video, I definitely learned a lot and will be thinking about my impact as a consumer much more.

  9. why kids stay mining.. companies with money wants to make more money so they don't pay wages to families that need it.. instead they want to undercut families so now everyone have to earn money to put food on the table.. money is the greed that keeps taking..

  10. This is absolutely heartbreaking. Excellent journalism.

    I agree with the reporter and the lady who is an advocate against child labor (spoke towards the beginning of the video) that avoiding mica is not a solution nor is it easy to do – it’s in so many products we use that are not makeup-related. The solution is to pay fair wage to these families and ensure their children receive a proper education.

  11. In 1980s out of every rupee that was issued by government for public welfare , at least saw 50 % go to public . In the last 25 years it’s dropped down to 5%. By the way , that’s not the way everyone is welcomed in the country.

  12. Corruption , poverty , overly populated, pollution , cheap politics , fascism, police brutality, disrespect for law and order and much more , Indians should have been the amnesty seekers world wide . I hate it there and won’t want
    To go back.

  13. Indian government should strictly bann this unauthorized mining with child Labour. And take some positive action in the favour of poor villagers.Because people who are not the part of our country, they are trying to take some gud steps for ur indians.Infact she gone for the complainant also against this child labour and poverty , which should be done by us . And makes other's life smiling.🙂thank you dear for making this video and making us aware about it.

  14. I never wear any of these make up
    Poor children my heart is so sad .
    I use cold cream
    And use just make up from the health shop .
    So sad 😭
    This world is upside down .using children for the vanity of make up
    Just for money
    It’s sick 🤢

  15. Wow. The child cruelty and labor is so heartbreaking. I hope a lot of attention gets brought to this video and this entire situation.

  16. All you complaining about child miners in this video while watching on your child slave made phone are RETARDS.
    Our Phones
    Our clothes and shoes
    Our gold and diamond jewellery
    And much more comes from some kind on underpaid slave. Quit complaining and just enjoy the cheap price we pay for nice shit.

  17. These people spend so much money to film them but They don't get any compensation for being filmed. Smfh. You nave a wallet, you have a car, you have a heart, so use it. You can get them a meal or some money to hold them off. Anything helps right?

  18. Thanks God that these children were being rescued..Also a big salute to the reporter who made all things impossible for these future generation…😚😚😚

  19. One birkin bag could give these kids a livable life with full bellies…
    Jeffree Star has a closet of birkins in his house…
    The rich have power but don’t use it because they are selfish greedy pigs. Period.

  20. So happy I stopped wearing makeup this year. And no one exposing the truth behind makeup, should actually have a caked face, but Im still appreciative of this video.

  21. We can dig out oil from the middle of the North Sea then why Indians are not using machinery.. because of caste system higher cast people believe lower cast people are untouchable not even given education or human valuable….so why should they protect them .They could let all these people convert to Islam but they are afraid they will have no one to do their dirty jobs.. so sad next time I will ingredients list before I buy make up..I recently gave up buying Dior and channel lipstick necessary they are not vegan friendly.

  22. can i just become a trillion-air and send these kids to good schools please, my heart aches for them but i cant do anything

  23. Others: dad,I won't eat unless u buy me new make up items.
    They: If we quit,what we eat?
    Those children deserve to be raise healthy as well as securely. My pray goes for them.

  24. No more Sephoras product or L’Oréal, this is very unfair, while we pain enough money for their products to this companies they don’t ensure that people who work really hard to obtain MICA mineral get paid well enough for the risk of the job they have to do every day. I'm very frustrated while people pay thousands of dollars for make products to this companies, children are risking their live every day to obtain a few quarters to put food on their table, this is insane.

  25. Is it possible for them to grow a generous amount of vegtables and fruits to at least take away some of the pressure of earning money? Can someone reply with your thoughts please. I'd love to hear them.

  26. they knew it's too dangerous for them but they chose to do it because if not, they'll die hungry. a sad truth and it breaks my heart

  27. Dark secret behind everything… Child labor and death. Doesn't matter the product. The race to bottom harms the poorest populations.

  28. Fashion is the worst industry in world. Bangladesh children sewing. Prisoners in sweat shops, burning alive in accidents. Indian children mining mica. Breathing in dust and dying. African children mining diamonds and metals. Being beaten and kidnapped.

  29. When Little beautiful girl Pooja said i want education 😭😭😭,looking at these little kids eyes tells you all

  30. There were lots of mica at where I used to live doing my childhood and none of us (my family) knew it was even useful. And never saw anyone ever mining then either. The Indian government need to do something about these kids risking their lives

  31. Just imagine how much work has been put in this video. She flew to London, India. How much research she has done. And she risked i dont even know what. When she said they have to go becouse the mining people are coming. Show some love for this girl!

  32. I don't know how the owners of these type of companies can live knowing they have kids working in these conditions for them while they are enjoying life

  33. After watching this video, i thought to myself. I'm going to check all beauty products that Im using if it has mica in it, if it has im not going to use it anymore untill i will hear some good news about this children and their family. They should be the one who is living in a comfortable life and not those selfish businessman😑
    This documentation really makes me cry.

  34. Tell, me anyone whats mica? I am not buying something like this anymore! And name of the brands that are using mica??? 😢😢😢😠

  35. I'm from Canada but I do understand to some degree what these kids are going through. I grew up real poor and had to start working at 7 years old, in a woodshop. Me and my siblings did that because my parents couldn't afford to hire extra hands. We all understood that our working was the key to our survival. I love my parents, and if I had to do it all over again, I would.
    I know these kids have it worse than I did, and that fills me with so much anxiety and sadness. I wish I could give all the people struggling in the world a better life. I have nothing that I could give. I have no money, no authority, no friends in high places. All I have is understanding and compassion.

  36. I stopped wearing makeup a year ago this makes my decision more permanent then ever ! I will not support company’s that have children doing this ! They aren’t even benefiting at all from this ! Just sad !

  37. These children are worrying what food to be put on the table while me in my childhood worried about how to escape my mother to play. ☹️

  38. The people that this like this video they don't have any sentiments for themselves or others. This is a very sad situation. Forced to work so the family can eat. This kind of situations and abuse is the cause of my fragile Faith. Very sad. Hope one day this abuse in the world will end. I'm ready for the End of the World. Because they are to many people suffering. Not only in India. This is every where in the world that people taking advantage, exploiting others humans because of their needs.

  39. Greetings pf love and peace!😊 We really need your help. Please do like and share our short documentary film; This is our attempt to feature one of the rampant issue today in the Philippines , the child labor. This is in relation to our recent topic in the subject Media and Information Literacy.
    Your like and share would mean a great help for us! Thank you and God bless!😊

  40. There should be an update on this story. Need to know if this problem was solved or what measures have been taken ever since the issue was raised to the Minister. So sad that these children have to do hard labour to put food on their table. This should really be looked into!!!😣

  41. Hi, I don't understand English, and there are parts I can't understand. Does this video also talk about skin trafficking? how does this happen? can someone explain me? Thanks

  42. it seems most of the comments are focused on makeup. mica is used in paint for vehicles, electronics, concrete… not just makeup. why focus on only the makeup companies? purely heartbreaking what these children have to endure.

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