Microplastic in cosmetics

17 February 2023

Microplastic is the new buzzword in the cosmetic branche. A scary thought, but do you really need to throw all your beautiful cosmetic products away and is all the information from the media substantiated?

For you, as a consumer of cosmetics products, it is important to be well informed about the ingredients in your cosmetics. With clear, independent and scientifically based information. 

What is ‘microplastic’?

Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic less than half a centimer and consequently, many microplastics are largely invisible to the naked eye. 

Plastic perishes in small pieces after a while when it ends up in our environment. You will find these plastic residues on beaches, along the coast and even in the ocean. Mostly these are big pieces of plastic, like bottles and packaging, but can also be really small pieces: microplastics.  
Source:  NCV-Cosmetica 

Microplastics in cosmetics

The best known microplatic in cosmetics are the 'microbead': small pieces of plastic that are used as a cleansing agent in scrubs, toothpaste and showergels. Their function is to scrub the skin or teeth clean. 

When products with microbeads are used and eventually removed from the skin, these particles could end up in the water. As these beads are extremely small, they can slip through the water purification system and end up in our groundwater, rivers and the ocean.

Many cosmetics manufacturers have replace these beads with natural alternatives like fruit seeds, sand, bamboo, silicia, etc. There are NO microbeads in the products of LOOkX Cosmetics. 

Is microplastic in cosmetics really that harmful?

In many occasions, these microplastics have really essential functions in cosmetics. In mascara it ensures the wearability of the product and it gives waterresistant properties to sunscreen for example.

"Ingredients in cosmetics could have the same INCI-name, but with different physical properties. This is why certain ingredients, even though they have the same name, form no danger to the environment. For example: an icecube has different properties when it's frozen than normal water in a glass, but it is still the same chemical substance. This is why plastic (in solid form) does not have to be plastic in a cosmetic product."
Source: NCV-Cosmetica

How do I recognize microplastics on the ingredient list?

On the INCI-list (list of ingredients), you can recognize plastics by the name 'polymer'. This does not mean that all polymers are plastics! Unfortunately it can not be determined by the INCI-name alone if a product contains plastic.

A good example of this is polyethylene: this ingredient is used in cosmetics and in plastics which appears in a plastic and non-plastic form.

We take care of you, your skin, animals and the environment!

Product safety takes front row in the cosmetic industry.

All cosmetical products are reviewed by the Safety review board before it can be sold commercially. During this performance review of the products, the properties of all ingredients are tested intensively. Ingredients are tested on many different levels, for example: the concentration, the compatibility with other ingredients and if the ingredient has other properties other than what it is used for in the formulation.

After this intensive testing, the products also get tested on safety by the SCCS (Scientific Comite for Consumer Safety). This is why you, as the consumer, always know your product is safe for you and the environment.
Source: NCV-cosmetica

At the moment there are many studies around the effect of microplastics in cosmetics on the environment. Different studies came to the conclusion that the vast majority of plastic waste found in the environment are the degradations of bigger plastic materials. In a highly regarded report from the European comission, where all the different sources of plastic found in the ocean are summarises, cosmetics only have a 0,3% contribution.

Explanation of polymers in LOOkX Skincare:
  • Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer is a barrier former and improves the adhesion of cosmetics to the skin. It gives an elegant silky texture tot the product and is also used to scatter light to reduce the look of fine lines on the skin, as well as to absorb excess oil and give a matt finish. It is formed when organic (vegetal) esters bind together in a formulation. It is NOT a microplastic in this formulation, but a liquid polymer.  
  • Sodium Plyacrylate starch is a complex of natural starch with natural polymers from silk, wool, cellulose, pectine and protein and is biodegradeble. The synthetic variant is not biodegradeble and is therefore NOT used by LOOkX.  
  • PEG 8 en PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Esther is derived from natural sources like stearic acid (obtained from the fats and oils from cotton), lauric acid (coconut) and oleic acid (olive oil) and thus NOT a microplastic.