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Microplastics in cosmetics: Environmental and health issues

The use of cosmetic products containing microplastics can damage our health, the health of aquatic ecosystems and the health of future generations. Because of microplastics, the world’s oceans are turning into giant plastic soups. Plastic particles are already present in practically all aquatic organisms.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics is the name we give to very small particles of plastic measuring less than 5 mm. Most of these particles are much smaller still: microparticles that are invisible to the naked eye. Microplastics are divided into primary and secondary types. Primary microplastics are deliberately manufactured small plastic particles that are used in cosmetics and some textile fibres. Secondary microplastics arise from the degradation (breakdown) of larger plastic particles into smaller ones.

 

Microplastics in cosmetics

Microplastics are used in a wide variety of cosmetic products. At one time it was common to find them in shower gels and scrubs, where they functioned as abrasives: when rubbed on the skin, they helped remove dead skin cells. Today the use of microplastics in these products has been banned in an increasing number of countries.

We wholeheartedly support such bans – not least because we know how easy it is to prepare a scrub at home using natural ingredients. We recently published some Homemade skin care recipes on our website. Why pollute our already overburdened planet when home-made natural scrubs are effective, healthy and wonderful!

Of course, it is not only body scrubs that are the problem. Microplastics are added to numerous products, including body milks and face creams. They are used as emulsifiers or as a cheap filler to add volume.

 

We don’t want microplastics in cosmetic products for two reasons

First – everything we put on our skin also enters our body.

And we put a lot on our skin. We apply various cosmetic products on a daily basis and in this way our body can end up absorbing a large quantity of harmful substances over the years.

Plastic contains a long list of chemical compounds whose effects on our health are still not fully researched. Phthalates for example are among the best researched groups of chemicals found in plastic. This group of chemicals is present in a large number of different products and is a known endocrine disruptor. This means that they can cause fertility disorders and even thyroid disease and hormone-related cancers.

 

Secondly – microplastics from cosmetics end up in the oceans.

Life in the oceans has already changed significantly because of microplastics. Invisible to the naked eye, microplastics go straight down the plughole in our bathrooms and enter the sewage system. Waste water treatment plants are not designed to filter such tiny particles, so these microplastics end up contributing to the “plastic soup” floating in our seas and oceans.

Marine organisms absorb or eat these microplastics, and these particles are then passed along the marine food chain. Microplastics are not biodegradable: once they enter the (marine) environment, it is almost impossible to get rid of them.

 

Hemptouch is actively fighting the use of microplastics in cosmetics

We have joined the global Beat the Microbead campaign, which is fighting against the use of microplastics in cosmetics. We are proud holders of a Zero Plastic Inside certificatea guarantee that all our products are 100% microplastic-free. The certificate was awarded to us by the Plastic Soup Foundation, which since 2011 has been active in the field of banning the use of microplastics in cosmetic products.

 

Literature:

https://eeb.org/eu-moves-to-ban-microplastics-in-most-products/

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-42621388