The Ugly Face of Beauty: Is Child Labour the Foundation for Your Makeup?

The Ugly Face of Beauty: Is Child Labour the Foundation for Your Makeup?

RT (2016)

Film Review

This documentary is about mica mining in the Jharkhand state in India, which produces 60% of the global mica supply. In addition to its use (as glitter) in cosmetics, mica is used to manufacture joint compound (for filling and seams in drywall), drilling fluids (in fracking), plastics, synthetic textiles and as an insulator in the electronics industry.

Although mica mining is technically illegal in India (owing to serious health risks, eg lung cancer and potential mine collapse), mica “processing” is legal and immensely profitable.

Rough 20,000 children (some as young as 3) are employed in mica mining in India. Adults can earn up to $3 per day, with lower caste workers earning less. They sell the mica they mine to processing plants or to the “mica mafia,” which sells it directly to exporters.

Dangerous to Kids and the Environment: The Movement to Ban Glitter

A recent article in Ecowatch calls for government ban on cosmetic glitter. Unbeknownst to consumers, it turns out to be quite dangerous, both to the marine environment and to children. Most cosmetic glitter is made by bonding aluminum with  polyethylene terephthalate (PET). All phthalates leach out endocrine-disrupting chemicals as they degrade. When ingested by marine life – or children – endocrine disruptors can cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects.

Thanks to all the other microplastics sea life consume, people who eat large amounts of fish and shellfish are exposing themselves to large amounts of PET.  One study from the University of Ghent found that Europeans who eat shellfish can consume as much as 11,000 microplastic particles per year. The PETs in these particles attract and absorb other persistent organic pollutants and pathogens, adding additional toxic exposure.

The resulting health effects is prompting many marine experts and environmentalists to advocate for the same ban on glitter as there is on microbeads. In 2015, the Obama administration signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act, banning plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. The U.K. and New Zealand announced their own prohibitions on microbeads earlier this year.

Due to their tiny size, glitter particles that become airborne are easily swallowed, especially by children.

Instead of waiting for the government to introduce a ban, a group of British daycare centers are taking the initiative in instituting their glitter ban. According to the Guardian, Top Day Nurseries has introduced a glitter ban, effective immediately, in 19 day care centers.

The issue is too urgent to wait for government bureaucracy to issue a glitter ban. Parents themselves need to take action by demanding their own daycare providers cease exposing their children to it.

photo credit: Inkwina