Febuary 09, 2018

Plastic in cosmetic products is a hot topic amongst consumers as well as decision makers. We are finally beginning to realize how big of an impact our consuming habits have on our healthas well as the health of the environment.

Microbeads in scrubs and toothpaste have gotten a lot of attention, but plastics are used in cosmetic products as other components too: in macro-, nano- and in soluble form.

In January we examined the CosmEthics database to learn, how many cosmetic products have some sort of plastics in them.

We went through all the products our users added to the CosmEthics database in 2017. We also scanned the products being sold on the EU market last year.

Out of 39 298 products analysed for our study 45,98% contained one or more plastic chemicals in 2017.

Regarding the public discussion and product marketing around micro plastic-free products, one could think that the use of plastics in cosmetics has been reduced. Instead what our data shows is the opposite. When we compared the product compositions of 2017 to the 2013-2016 products, we found out there to be more of plastic chemicals in the products now than before.

Between 2013-2016 there was at least one plastic chemical in 40,75% of the products on the EU market. Last year the number had increased to 45,98%.

The cosmetic industry might have reduced the use of plastic beads, but other sorts of plastic chemicals are being used instead.

The most common plastic chemicals used in cosmetics in 2017 were:

  1. 1. CARBOMER
  2. 2. POLYETHYLENE
  3. 3. ACRYLATES/C10-30 ALKYL ACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER
  4. 4. NYLON-12
  5. 5. ACRYLATES COPOLYMER

We all can make a change in our everyday life, by choosing plastic free cosmetic products! It is, however, difficult for consumers to identify plastics from the INCI list, since there are over 500 plastic chemicals with different names.

If you want to make sure the cosmetic products you are using are plastic free, activate the plastic list on your CosmEthics app. It´s free and can be found for iOS and Android users.

Anoher way of avoiding plastics is to select certified natural cosmetic products But beware: some brands have a green image, even though they are not certified, and can therefore contain plastic!

You can find more information about plastic free products in our previous stories:

  1. A Plastic-free Serum Thank You!
  2. Plastic Free Kisses
  3. Natural looking Cosmetic Products can contain Plastic Chemicals

The plastic chemicals used in cosmetic products are not necessarily micro plastics (<5mm), they might be macro (>5mm), nano or soluble plastic. A bold marketing campaign against micro plastics is not a guarantee of a plastic free product! Tell us what you think: should a cosmetic product marketed as micro plastic free, have an entirely plastic free composition? Take part in the discussion on our FB-page

Download the CosmEthics app on your phone, it´s free for consumers:

CosmEthics Works Daily to End the Retail and Use of EU-Banned Cosmetic Chemicals.

CosmEthics has detected several prohibited chemicals on the EU market For this reason, we have created a petition for consumers to sign, which calls for the enforcement of Annex II ingredients. Cosmetic products containing these prohibited ingredients, should be removed from the market. Please sign!