Don’t you love those scrubs with gentle exfoliating beads? Well, what if we told you they cause more harm than good? Fact is that those beads may be made of microplastics! Does the word microplastics ring a bell? Let’s dive deep into what it is and why it is the talk of the town.
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic debris, mostly less than 5 mm in size, that enter our waterways and oceans. They are created when larger pieces of plastic (such as bottles and packaging) break off smaller pieces by their constant interaction with natural and artificial forces.
While these microplastics may not be visible to the naked eye, it can cause a visibly larger impact to the environment. That’s not all, these microplastics also can act as sponges, which means they have the power to absorb and concentrate toxic chemicals. This further adds up to toxicity passed on to animals.
While a lot of countries have realised the harmful effects of microplastics already and banned this ingredient, many countries are yet to understand. But, if we make the right choice and avoid products that contain these microplastics, we can be making a positive change in the system.
Microplastics in Cosmetics
As per a latest study conducted in India, results show that 50 percent of the face wash products and 67 percent of the facial scrubs contain microplastics.
Let’s tell how they’re used in these personal care products and despite knowing the dangers, why is it an ingredient most brands resort to!
If you read the labels of your favourite products carefully, you may find one of these micro plastic containing ingredients!
Polyethylene is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer made of repeating ethylene units. It is one of the most commonly produced plastics worldwide, with tens of millions of tons produced every year.
It is most commonly found microplastic in cosmetic products such as eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, eyebrow pencils, lipsticks, face powders and foundations, as well as skin cleansers and other skin care products.
It is the secret ingredient in most exfoliants that is intentionally added to appear like microbeads and to offer a smoother, polished finish to your skin.
However, Polyethylene is not merely added to cosmetic products in the form of microbeads. Sometimes, it may not be visible in a solid form at all.
Here are some of the potential reasons Polyethylene is used in cosmetics and personal care products.
- To unite or bond surfaces or ingredients together
- To dilute other solids, or to increase the thickness of the lipid (oil) portion in order to keep the emulsion from separating the oil and liquid components
- To form a thin coating on the skin, hair or nails
- To reduce oral odor
Acrylates Copolymer is a general term for synthetic copolymers of two or more monomers consisting of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid or one of their simple esters.
Acrylates Copolymer is a substance which has been widely used in cosmetics during recent years. While a few brands have claimed they don’t use the ‘commonly known’ microplastics such as Polyethylene, PET, PMMA, PVC, they’ve rather switched to the use of acrylates copolymer has increased greatly.
Why is it used?
Acrylates Copolymer are a group of polymers that are known for their transparency, resistance to breakage, and elasticity.
They are mostly used in products such as hair dyes, mascaras, nail polishes, lipsticks, hairsprays, body washes, sunscreens and anti-ageing treatments.
Here’s why some brands look out to this in their products:
- To make your makeup waterproof
- To set the hair and protect it from humidity
- To work as an antistatic agent to hair products
- To show its benefits as an adhesive for nail binding products
We, at RAS, are aware of the potential dangers of microplastics in skincare and cosmetics industry and hence take pride in avoiding them. We’re doing our part by formulating natural and organic products that are free of toxins and microplastics, thereby helping the environment to stay healthy and beautiful. What about you?