Should You be Avoiding Oxides and Micas?

We colour all our products naturally and ethically, we DO NOT use synthetic (coal tar) dyes, colour oxides or micas. Why do we go to all this trouble?


Natural oxides are minerals that come in many different colours (green, brown, orange, yellow, red, black etc.). Natural micas are also from mineral sources and are naturally shiny.

There are many types of oxides and micas and they are found all over the world. However, over the years, the cosmetics industry has favoured oxides and micas from India because of their price/quality ratio. Micas and oxides are used in many industries, for example in automotive paints, inks, edible glitter as well as natural or non-natural cosmetics. You can buy them at any DIY store.

Consequently, they are often found in soaps, make-up and in cosmetics from large chains, as well as in almost all small artisanal soap factories in Quebec.

Soap with mica

Why then did we vow never to use oxides and micas in our products despite them being "natural"?

The answer is simple: because oxides and micas are produced at the expense of children (being small, they are the perfect size for fitting into small cavities), women and men working in atrocious, unethical and dangerous conditions. 

Anyone who's already had the chance to talk with me about my values and choices will have already heard me describe the conditions children in the oxide and mica industry face: underpaid, often left barefoot, never wearing any productive equipment... We're talking about children as young as four and five! If they don't work, they starve, and so they work to feed themselves, earning a lousy 50 cents per day. Some are injured, others face life-threatening damage to their lungs from the dust. Ten to twenty children DIE every month crushed under rubble or following serious injuries.

As I write this article, no company that produces natural cosmetics using micas can certify their micas are produced without exploiting child labour. A few years ago there was one company, but since the company changed hands, "they are no longer able to guarantee it..."

Furthermore, natural micas often contain high levels of heavy metals. All of this combined is why we do not use natrual micas and will not as long as this situation persists. Our priority is to make products that care for our bodies and our planet.


We will always say NO to adding natural sparkles in our bath bombs and soaps.... What good is  creating natural, vegan products when children are being exploited at the very beginning of the assembly line?

The worst thing is, this is often considered a taboo topic among cosmetic producers and consumers. I've heard plenty of things, "where do we stop? Exploiting harvester monkeys for coconut oil, composting, GMO, recycling, zero-waste, veganism, organic products, animal cruelty, avocados, almonds, dwindling bee populations, greenhouse gasses, palm oil, plastic pollution..." Well, that's a good way to list a bunch of semi-related stuff and downplay the issue at hand, burying our heads in the sand because we like to see the world through rose-tinted glasses. Come on! Yes, everything has an impact, we can stop wherever we see fit... But we're talking about children, school-aged children, small humans... I can't help but feel it should be one of our priorities. 


I've also heard, "but if we use less micas, there won't be any work for the children and they won't be able to eat." What a way to think in order to maintain the exploitation of our societies. This is a complex issue, and the first steps towards change are never quick. But what's better, suffering/dying with a full stomach for generations to come or going hungry now and triggering change for a better world? Watch the video until the end, there is hope!

We can all takes steps and help raise awareness of ethical consumer choices in the cosmetics industry. Does it sparkle? Does it have "mica" in the ingredient list? If it does, can I find a product that meets the same need but is mica-free? Often the answer is yes. Soaps and bath bombs are no less cleansing, relaxing or moisturizing when you omit the mica. Micas might be pretty, but they don't add any beneficial properties to the product, and there's nothing pretty about that. 

When it comes to eyeshadows, blushes and highlighters, there's not usually a way around it, unfortunately micas are what makes them shine.... the shine of Indian children. People need to know this. It needs to be discussed. The more people who know about it, the more pressure the cosmetics industry will face to give us ethical alternatives. 


Glitter addicts might be tempted to turn to plastic-based synthetic glitter, except think about the microplastics polluting our marine ecosystems. We need a real solution, something biodegradable and ethical. 'BioglittersTM'' have done it. They have developed glosses for cosmetics and DIY and their products are formulated without natural mica. Their Bioglitter® PURE product is biodegradable and certified 100% plastic-free. Some Canadian retailers also redistribute their product.

Here at Le Jardin de Julie, we also set out on our soapmaking adventure vowing to never use synthetic (coal tar) dyes or micas... but we will save that for another article. 

Please watch this Refinery29 report about natural micas. It's eye-opening and will show you the reality the children face in Indian mines. Journalist Lexy Lebsack and her team travelled to Jharkland, India, near the border with Bangladesh. In this state and in Bihar alone, close to 22,000 children work in mines where they earn 20-30 rupees a day (which corresponds to 39-85 cents). 

How can I tell if there are natural or synthetic micas in my product?

Look at your labels, natural micas will be listed as "mica", "potassium aluminium silicate" or "CI 77019", and synthetic micas as "synthetic mica" or "synthetic flurophlogopopite." If you can, choose something that says "plastic-free" or "biodegradable."



Lush and mica

Discover Bioglitters PURE