Opinion

What are microplastics and what do they do in cosmetics?

Microplastics are simply small pieces of plastic. To get the name microplastic, the piece must be smaller than 5 millimetres, but often they are much smaller and are called microbeads. Microplastics are added to many cosmetics. According to some, it has excellent properties and cosmetics cannot really do without it. Others are mostly concerned about the negative impact of microplastic spread. Microplastic washes richly into the environment, it is found in animals, it has a place in our food chain and has even been found in human blood. But what exactly is microplastic?

What exactly is microplastic?

Microplastics are pieces of plastic no larger than 5 millimetres, which is quite large. With plastic in cosmetics, we don't actually talk about microplastics, but about microbeads, which are much smaller (0.5 mm at most). And you sometimes cannot even see these pieces of microbeads.

Microbeads is thus a product consisting of plastic made specifically for cosmetics. It is very cheap to produce. At least, financially it is very cheap, for the environment it is not as good.

Why is microplastic used in cosmetics?

According to some experts, microplastics offer really great properties. Shower gels would have a much better texture. Creams would become much more spreadable. And what about exfoliating soaps - how are you ever supposed to make that without microplastics?

The fact that purely natural ingredients are also suitable for this purpose is not taken into account by experts like that.

What we know about microplastics (microbeads) is that they are incredibly cheap to produce. Much cheaper than the natural alternatives. Perhaps that is the real reason why they are widely used.

One can almost speak of unfair competition.

What is the danger of microplastics?

In October 2020, a documentary on microplastics on the television programme "keuringsdienst van waarde". The documentary tells very well the pros and cons of microplastics.

It is striking that not many people still know exactly what microplastics are. In fact, some don't even know that microplastic is found in cosmetics. But the reality is that most cosmetics contain microplastic.

Take an exfoliating soap containing microplastic as an example. After applying the exfoliating soap, the residue flushes down the drain, on its way to the sewer, the water treatment plant and back into the environment. This is how microplastics end up in our drinking water, for example. Microplastics are regularly found in animals, think of fish, but actually all animals. Well, it is logical that microplastics are found in the stomach. But microplastics are even found in the animal's fat. In other words, microplastics enter the stomach through the mouth after which they are absorbed and enter the fat through the bloodstream.

The amount of microplastics in cosmetics is, of course, neatly within the limits of the maximum allowed per package. However, the hazard could be the total of all microplastics consumed by a human being per day. If so, it simply cannot be calculated.

How do I recognise microplastics in cosmetics?

Microplastics are sometimes not very easy to spot on the ingredient list. Sometimes you can recognise them by the plastic name, e.g. polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylates copolymer or polyacrylate.

But manufacturers also use other methods to make the use of microplastic less conspicuous (consciously or unconsciously). Microplastic is then often described as PEG, followed by a number.

Are there any cosmetics without microplastics?

The question of what microplastics do in cosmetics has been answered above. Cosmetics get a better texture, are more spreadable and get that nice exfoliating effect. Oh yes, and it is very cheap.

All these things are also perfectly feasible with cosmetics made up of natural ingredients. Try Evergetikon's creams for fun, you should see how well spreadable they are. Anyway. In one area, cosmetics without microplastics will never win, and that is price. It is simply more expensive to make a shampoo that does not contain microplastic than one that does.

But whether it is possible? Yes indeed.

Whether microplastics are good or bad we at Pure Health Store leave entirely up to debate. We only choose to sell products without microplastics.