This is the Ugly Side of Canada’s Beauty Industry

Published June 15, 2018 at 5:47 pm


Do you know what goes into the make-up you wear?

You might have some idea about where it was manufactured. But surely, you’re in the dark about where the natural materials come from. And, who works in those farms or mines.

On World Day Against Child Labour (June 12), World vision released a report on the Canadian link to this global issue.

The report sheds light on the ugly side of the Canadian beauty industry and uncovers the high risk of child labour in Canada’s multi-billion-dollar cosmetics market and stresses the need for legislative action and other realistic solutions to address this local issue.

Canadians are mostly unaware that incandescent makeup usually contains mica, which is a natural material in cosmetics and many other common products Canadians use. It’s also in high demand.

Mica is linked to one of the worst forms of child labour and human suffering, according to the report. 

“Child labour is a global problem, but it’s also a Canadian problem,” says Michael Messenger, President and CEO, World Vision Canada.

“Billions of dollars of beauty and other products that have a high risk of being made by children are imported into our country every day. There is a clear opportunity for the Canadian government to address our country’s link to child labour by introducing supply chain transparency legislation. The UK and other jurisdictions have brought in new laws, it’s time for Canada to be a leader on this issue too.”

The world’s mica comes from illegal mining in India. And over 22,000 children work in dangerous conditions that put their health and life at risk. So, it’s creating an unacceptable risk that mica mined by children is ending up in the items we buy here in Canada.

“Mica mining is one of the worst forms of child labour because the work is dirty, dangerous and degrading. It puts their lives at risk today while putting their future in jeopardy. As a consumer and as a parent, I’m concerned that the products I buy contain child labour. More needs to be done because Canadians are being left in the dark and can’t make informed choices that can lead to real change for exploited children. It has to stop,” says Cheryl Hotchkiss, Child Advocate, No Child for Sale Initiative, World Vision Canada.

Turns out, $798.2 million (CAD) in Canadian imports of common makeup products – eye, lip and face makeup and nail – are at risk of having child labour in their supply chains. There has been a 136 per cent increase in the value of these makeup products sold in Canada over the last 10 years.

And, consumers are unaware because many products are not labelled properly and they aren’t coded for their contents either.


  • $798.2 million (CAD) in Canadian imports of common makeup products are at risk of having child labour in their supply chains (eye, lip and face makeup and nail preparations).
  • 136% increase in the value of risky makeup products sold in Canada over the past 10 years.
  • Other at-risk products potentially containing mica include sunscreen/lotion (up to $1.2B), deodorant/antiperspirant ($125M), toothpaste/dental care ($201M), shampoo ($216M).
  • Consumers are unable to inform themselves about ingredients in common makeup items. Many products are not labelled clearly nor are they coded for their contents.

(Source: World Vision Canada)

Do you know where your makeup comes from?

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