Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic (nanoplastic are even tinier forms) that became a human health threat and often pollute the environment as they enter our food chain and skincare products!
The mainstream beauty industry uses hundreds of liquid microplastic or liquid polymers.
Microplastics are all around us as they are released from our carpets, curtains, and other synthetic textiles. Microplastics have been found in food products such as honey, beer, water, salt, fruits, and vegetables.
It means we eat, drink, inhale, and spread plastic on our skin daily!
To put the skincare product pollution in perspective, an anti-aging cream was tested by the Beat The Beads campaign, and it was found to be flooded with polyethene.
“This is one product, and this is only what's inside the products."
Most conventional plastics such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene, and many more are non-biodegradable, and their increasing accumulation in the environment and inside our body became a threat to our health and to the planet."
Which ingredients contain the hidden plastic in our skincare products?
There are many kinds of micro and nanoplastic ingredients, but we will look into two of the most commonly used microplastics.
Polyethylene and Acrylates Copolymer
Polyethylene is one of the most commonly used microplastics in products such as eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, eyebrow pencils, lipsticks, face powders and foundations, skin cleansers, and skin care products. Polyethylene has also been used for the formation of microbeads.
Acrylates Copolymer is a general term for synthetic copolymers.
Why are these ingredients added intentionally to our personal care products?
There are a variety of purposes for adding these ingredients. Polyethene doesn't always have to be in a visible or solid form (like plastic beads in cleansers). Many products containing Polyethylene can be liquids that provide the product with different benefits, such as diluting other solids or increasing the thickness of the oils. It helps to keep an emulsion from separating into its oil and water components. Sometimes the purpose is to form a thin coating on the skin.
When using products containing plastic, do we harm our health?
In other words, does plastic make us sick?
A Dutch organisation initiated a research program called Microplastics & Health to allow scientists to study the effects of microplastics on human health.
Plastic may affect our health via some pathways:
We eat, drink, inhale and spread plastics on our skin, so it enters our body.
Plastic products contain chemical additives associated with health issues like hormone-related diseases, infertility, and neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism.
Plastics are not biodegradable, and bacteria that cause human diseases tend to grow on the plastic surface.
How can we ditch plastic in our skincare products?
Read the ingredients on the labels! It is not always easy to recognize the elements, but if you start reading them, you will get to recognize them step by step. This app is an excellent assist - download the app Beat the Microbead to scan the ingredients list on any product and get to know the hidden plastic ingredients.
Look for products in biodegradable or reused containers.
Follow the campaigns and organizations that research and provide you with reliable information, such as the Plastic Health Coalition or the Beat the Microbead campaign that was initiated by the Plastic Soup Foundation.
Consume more natural products. Look for the products that truly are natural (did I mention read the list of ingredients?)