The ugly story behind your makeup products

Makeup is indeed a crucial product for many all around the world. But did you know there is an ugly side to the product that amplifies your beauty?

Sulfur, one of the crucial ingredients in the manufacturing of makeup, is mined in a few parts around the world such as in Ijen. It is unbelievable how these miners work every day- imagine working in an area where the air reaches nearly 100 Fahrenheit, with toxic gas everywhere, carrying nearly 200 pounds on your shoulders twice just for $12- $17 a day? Yes, that’s the condition of these poor miners.

These miners get up early every day, take a 2-mile walk up the hill and go deep down into the 1000-foot-deep crater. Over there, they are accompanied by dangerous water of PH 0.3, one which can even make teeth fall out and be extremely dangerous if it reaches the stomach. But that’s not it, here comes the main part: the deadly smoke. Miners face dangerous gasses every day from two sources: sulfur from deep inside the volcano and many more gasses from below the lake. This would not have been a major issue for them if they just wore gas masks, but they sadly can’t. The company does not provide gear to these miners as they are freelance contractors, so they must get their own. However, many of them cannot afford their safety gear and instead use a handkerchief dipped in water to battle against this powerful smoke. Obviously, this is not enough. As a result, they cough or get pain in the gut if they inhale any sulfur. Due to these conditions, many don’t live past 50.

The list of dangers is not done just yet- they must be very careful when handling the sulfur. If the liquid sulfur has not cooled yet, and if at all they happen to touch it, their skin will rub off and feel like they are exposed to fire. There’s also no need to emphasize the additional rashes and blisters they get carrying nearly 200 pounds on steep hills. This job certainly requires immense skill and attention, otherwise, it can result in highly painful consequences.

Their sadness does not end here- pre-pandemic, these miners could extract up to 25 tons daily, but in order to maintain social distancing, they work in 2 shifts now, allowing them to mine only up to 10 tons of sulfur daily. Considering that they earn 9 cents per kilo, this does not leave them much.

Despite being worn down to a nib, these miners continue to work. The real question arises- why do they even work despite the persisting challenges?

Well, they seem to have their valid reasons. The fear of hunger is clearly above all the tiring work; they do this mainly for their family. Also, it is a more well-paid job in that area of Indonesia. Miners also appreciate their job more as the payments are also quick, unlike many other jobs there such as farming.

Back pain, crushed shoulders, and climbing up steep hills with 200 pounds is definitely not a piece of cake. Though the miners don’t exactly help themselves health-wise, they undoubtedly make a difference globally. It’s thanks to the endless hard work of these miners that we are able to manufacture the world’s most commonly used chemical; sulfuric acid. From manufacturing matches, fire and gunpowder to detergent paper and batteries, sulfur is a key ingredient in our lives. Imagine if it weren’t for these miners.

Miners work so hard for their families’ lives but slowly take away theirs.

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