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.

100 Comments

  • miracle hines

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

  • Windsor 519

    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.

  • mekeal brown

    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?

  • Musicforall Musicislove

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

  • panini uwu

    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.

  • Shamuriel Bush Pineda

    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.

  • mari gold

    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.

  • Halima A

    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

  • Biyir Kamcham

    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.

  • Yuriria cristal martinez

    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.

  • Emelyne Saint Martin

    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.

  • Stephanie Avance

    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

  • Raw LAHiabetes

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

  • Raw LAHiabetes

    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.

  • margaret amoabeng

    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

  • Elzė Ustinavičiūtė

    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!

  • Adolfo Rojas

    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

  • sunshine suerte

    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.

  • vera mihailov

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

  • Ty Smith

    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.

  • Kha’Shiya Rn Journey

    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 !

  • Vim Eun Park

    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. ☹️

  • Acosta Nilsa

    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.

  • Wynethh Chabachachi

    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!😊

    https://www.facebook.com/108869110481879/videos/2359498857642183/

  • Cecilia Mbithe

    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!!!😣

  • Maria Santa

    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

  • victoria carosella

    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.

  • ciss Vixen

    we need to try to see everything is every perspectives, of course i dont encourage or support child laboring as well unfair cheap laboring, but can we really sure this operation would improve these children and their family living condition if any improvement at all. end of the day, every person here and reporters, how many are living in india? any one at the moment is making sure these families situation have achieved the goal what is documentary report set out for and maintaining?
    or maybe these simply just another short period of passion to help b4 jump to another, and there is no serious work to follow up to on this issue? and your action might course these families life more difficult because u shut down their maybe only way to earn extra to provide reasonable food on the table. did u make it up what they have lost by making sure they have another way to earn extra or money funding to help. to shut down their option and calling consumer not to support buying mica.. mica price drop lower. so if their gov do nothing, then the price falling thank to u, they dangerous work now bring them less money.
    sadly, i view more likely to close to the reality.

  • CrowdDemocracy

    So lets make the supply chain transparent.
    We are the consumers of these products. We need to know where it comes from. If we are not given that information we need to assume the WORST conditions are THE conditions.
    We need to create the way to help these families.
    Lets create the global tech cooperative that connects the globe in solidarity.
    Google wont create it and if they did we would not trust it
    WE (the consumers) need to create it together so we can trust it and contribute directly (crowd sourced, crowd funded)
    A small group of us working together can make it happen

  • CrowdDemocracy

    This has nearly 5 million views. This shows that people CARE
    If 1/10 of those people put $1 into an app to track the supply chain we would have 500k to build an app.
    An app that we own and contribute to together (so it is trustworthy)
    Such an app would improve this issue and most of the issues that pertain to supply chain ethics and our ignorance leading to complacency.

  • seiboiK1 Kipgen

    See all lady all over the world wide.its hurt me…stop for costamatic production..in stead of buying help them…we all have God 😢

  • Vince Canarez

    Behind those beauty,
    Colorful tintings,
    Sparkling sandy pieces
    Are unnoticeable tears and sadness that needs to be seen by everybody.
    😢😥😓

  • Soh Rijin

    "The Kumari family…………10-20 days every month"

    Me: Wait……………..if there were 10 deaths (minimum) every month, in a year, there would be 120 children deaths.

  • netacody

    @refinery29 You should’ve blurred those children’s faces so no one could harm them after seeing this video.. now on top of all they’re problems they will get fired or worse.. but at least you got 5 million views from this video right? You are no better than those corporations – all you care about is money and not the wellbeing of these children.

  • Bishwajit Mandal

    People living inside india will be saying. "Kids get food by mining mica. Why do you think they work even they know they can be in great problems. Easy to say to find some ethical way. job is rare in india .Pressurizing is common in india.
    1. IIT solves problems of globe but are unable to solve these childrens poverty.
    All i can say these children are living at the cost of their lives they are their own gods. These children are rare which have such kind of motivation and will power.

  • Jewel justjewel

    WHAT? Oh my gosh! what a world- what a world- so India has got MIca and Hair – and they are so poor- this is wrong

  • Morgan B

    Ok but refinery 29 still does their makeup videos using products with mica/unethical brands so putting action behind words would be useful

  • ila um

    The problem is more that child labor thats very sad to see that these children don't even get a chance to be kids. mean while around the world we see glamorous makeup on women and have no cule is to how makeup is made. but thats what happens when country's have something called free trade and greed.

  • AKingZWldAQu33nZUnVZ

    Luciferans We Want To America Great Greed,Power,Money And At Who Risks Once Again The People In Proverty It' Okay America Because Your Making America Great And You Look Beautiful Doing It This World If Don't Believe In God You Better Believe In Karma Your Days Are Coming Very Soon!!!!!!!!!

  • Wilmar Beia

    Corruption is so profitable in many societies, where greedy and materialist elites are in control or empowered. Leaders and governments around the globe know it; however, many ignore it or do nothing to change the situation due to illicit enrichment, in others words, many of them benefit from these injustices. Indeed, the amount of profit the make up industry makes annually, is enough money to mitigate the present conditions in these villages. I don’t blame the make up industry, but I advise them to rethink about where they get the supplies. This mica issue is injustice at its best in this world we live. The answers of these kids softened my soul and made me think about how evil are our systems’ executors.

  • yogita singh

    This video is a big slap to all careless departments and companies ….. A great effort taken by makers of video …

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