Microplastics in cosmetics are not easy to recognize. The plastics particles can be made from different types of plastic and just one slight change in molecules makes for a completely different ingredient with completely different INCI name. INCI stands for: International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. So instead of writing it in our own language, we kind of all use the same language. How cool is that?
Which cosmetics contain microplastics?
- Exfoliating products: These products contain tiny beads or granules that help to remove dead skin cells. However, these beads are often made of plastic, which can end up in the environment and harm marine life.
- Toothpaste: Toothpaste often contains microbeads of plastic that help to whiten teeth. However, these microbeads are too small to be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants, so they can end up in the ocean.
- Body wash and shampoo: Some body washes and shampoos contain microplastics that help to exfoliate the skin and scalp. However, these microplastics can also end up in the environment.
- Makeup: Some makeup products, such as mascara, eyeliner, and foundation, can contain microplastics. These microplastics can enter the environment when people wash off their makeup.
Other cosmetics that may contain microplastics include:
- Shaving cream
- Face masks
Recognize microplastics in cosmetics
To avoid using cosmetics that contain microplastics, look for products that are labeled “microplastic-free”. You can also check the ingredient list for ingredients such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polymethyl methacrylate, as these are all commonly used microplastics. In general if you see poly.. it is best to avoid using that product. Do you want to be sure? On Beat the Microbead you will find an extensive overview of terms for microplastics ingredients.
Why is plastic added to cosmetics at all?
Microplastics may have been added to low-cost products since the 1960s and can now be found everywhere, even in the most remote places on Earth.
Microplastics are most commonly added in cosmetics to:
• Prevent an emulsion from separating into its oil and liquid components.
• Form a thin film on the skin, hair or nails.
• Set hair, add volume and protect it from moisture.
However microplastics are not necessary for these effects, there are multiple great 100% natural alternatives. That is why all our soap and shampoo bars are 100% plastic free.
Are microplastics banned in cosmetics?
The European Commission adopted the Restriction on synthetic polymer microparticles (microplastics) intentionally added to consumer or professional use products of any kind on 25 September 2023. The Restriction aims to address pollution caused by intentionally added microplastics.
Only the sale of cosmetic products containing microbeads is banned as of 17 October 2023.
Cosmetic products containing synthetic polymer microparticles (with the exception of microbeads), including those containing glitter, are granted specific transitional periods.
– 16 October 2027 included, for rinse-off cosmetics
– 16 October 2029 included, for leave-on cosmetics
– 16 October 2035 included, for make-up, lip and nail cosmetics
What can you do to avoid microplastics?
Here are some tips for choosing microplastic-free cosmetics:
Luckily, there are more and more sustainable cosmetics out there without any microplastics and solo biodegradable ingredients. So, it is definitely possible to get a plastic-free bathroom!
- Switch to cosmetics made with natural and biodegradable ingredients. Like the soap and shampoo bars from Nature Bar.
- Research the brand and ingredients. Luckily, Beat the micro bead makes it super easy for you. Here you will find a list of plastic-free brands. When in doubt, scan the product with the Beat the micro bead app.
- Sign the petition to eliminating microplastics in cosmetics.
By following these tips, you can help to reduce the amount of microplastics that enter the environment.