All that glitters...

Razzle dazzle them with glitter which doesn't equate to environmental damage or child labour.

Many glitters contain PET or microplastics which do not break down in the ocean. More environmentally friendly options to microbeads include natural ingredients like ground nut shells and aduki beans and you can find these in your favourite exfoliating Lush products. Your love of glitter can also now be fulfilled without the plastic: instead a new kind of sparkle made from synthetic mica is adding the dazzle to your products. Synthetic mica is made up of natural minerals, so instead of filling your bathroom with plastics which won’t biodegrade and are potentially toxic to marine wildlife, you can sit back and enjoy your bath, safe in the knowledge that it won’t have a negative impact on the environment.

It also won't be at risk of being sourced using child labour. This is because, of the many types of mica found across the world, traditionally there's been a preference for Indian mica in the cosmetics industries. Other types of mica can be found in countries where the industry is regulated and labour laws are strict and child labour is not an issue. Synthetic mica for example is still part of the mica family, however it is processed in a controlled environment and made to mimic natural mica.

In recent years, it's been difficult to find an ethical source of Indian natural mica, as the use of child labour in the mining process in endemic. When buying, guaranteeing that the supply chain was free from child labour meant relying on assurances from producers and manufacturers. It also meant carrying out audits whenever possible. On some sites visits were not possible and Lush didn't feel confident that our previous supplier's audits could guarantee that child labour wasn't a possibility. For these reasons, Lush made the commitment not to use any natural mica based pigments in products. This involved removing natural mica where it occured as a sole ingredient, as well as in those cases where it was a component of a pigment.

While mica occurs naturally, the level of processing it undergoes to remove heavy metals or clean it can be very intensive. Once coated with the dye or pigment it is almost an inert material. So, whether it’s synthetic mica or natural mica, there’s always an element of chemical processing to make it safe for human use.

All materials and pigments are controlled by cosmetics regulations, which stipulates what percentages of pigment, or material such as mica can be used safely in cosmetics. We also use other pigments made with borosilicate, which are thin glass flakes made of different minerals i.e. calcium or sodium coated with dye. In terms of environmental impact, these are naturally occuring material as are the dyes used to coat them. The synthetic mica works as a substrate or a base for the dye to be applied on, so it's basically a mineral coating another mineral at different levels, depending on the desired effect.

Lush products (sparkly or not) use food-safe colourings, synthetic mica, minerals and natural starches, and even one with a seaweed base – agar agar. Of all the glitter and lustre that flows out through your bathroom, some of which may make its way back to the ocean, it will all be harmless for the environment, and stand against child labour.

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