Most scientists understand microplastics to be solid, non-degradable plastic particles that are smaller than 5 millimetres.
A distinction is made between small plastic particles that are produced on purpose. They are intended to be used as small particles in an eye shadow, for example. Plastic particles are only gradually created from larger plastic waste by being crushed in the environment. Environmentalists are demanding that plastics in mega volume lash extensions that are difficult to break down should also be taken into account.
Mega volume lash extensions: Are microplastics harmful to health and the environment?
It is still largely unclear what effects microplastics will have on the health of marine life or humans. Many plastics are not biodegraded but are broken down into smaller and smaller particles. The plastics themselves can already contain harmful chemicals such as certain plasticizers, stabilizers or flame retardants as additives. In addition, microplastic particles can bind long-forbidden pollutants which are still present in the environment.
The pollutant content on the plastic particle itself can be up to a million times higher than in the surrounding water. Mussels that were fed plastic particles developed inflammation. Microplastic particles have been reliably detected in mussel meat.
Environment: How to identify and avoid microplastics in cosmetics?
You can easily make your own peelings from sugar and oil, for example.
Certified natural cosmetics with the appropriate seals are free from petroleum-based microplastics and other petroleum-based plastics. Plastics made from renewable raw materials such as polylactic acid are unfortunately not prohibited in natural cosmetics. Although these are also difficult to break down under environmental conditions.
However, there are almost no natural cosmetic products that contain polylactic acid.
With conventional cosmetics, it is more complicated to avoid plastics. Unfortunately, there are many other names for plastics in cosmetics.
Are there other environmentally harmful plastics in cosmetics?
In cosmetic products, plastics are not only used in the form of solid particles but also as waxes, gels or liquid polymers. Such plastics are usually not referred to as microplastics. The name on the packaging often does not tell whether the plastic is in solid or liquid form.
Soluble substances such as acrylic acid copolymers are therefore often not taken into account in the microplastic discussion. However, plastics in cosmetics that are difficult to biodegrade pollute the environment.