Just when we were happy that the top names on the beauty blacklist such as aluminium salts, silicones, acetones, parabens and triclosan have disappeared from most cosmetic products, there is a new enemy: plastic. In the air, in the sea, in us. The smallest plastic particles are everywhere. Find out here what the consequences are and why the beauty labs work with plastic at all:
What is microplastic?
Plastic is a synthetic polymer composed of macromolecules based on petroleum, coal and natural gas. This is exactly what microplastics are made of. The solid, insoluble and non-biodegradable synthetic compound is in a size range of less than 5 millimetres to 1,000 nanometres. That is already quite small.
A distinction can be made between two types of microplastic: Primary and secondary. Primary microplastics are particles that are already in the size range of microplastics when they enter the environment. Type A of primary microplastic is already intentionally contained in products, for example in the cosmetics and personal care industry. Type B of primary microplastics, on the other hand, is created while using it. Examples of this are car tyres or fibres from synthetic textiles that end up in wastewater during washing. Secondary microplastics, on the other hand, are formed during the weathering process and decomposition of larger plastic parts, e.g. through wave action and solar radiation.
Why is plastic used in the cosmetics industry?
Microplastics, often in the form of fine granules, are widely used in cosmetics production. It is used in different sizes and moulding compounds, among other things as powder or solution. In facial scrubs as an abrasive, in other products as emulsifiers, fillers, film formers or binders. And in shower gels, shampoos, creams and many other products - theoretically, microplastics could be found in every beauty product. In cheap as well as in expensive ones - but why? Because plastic is cheap to produce.
Which products often contain microplastics?
- Lipstick and lipgloss,
- Shower gel and soap,
- Facial cleanser, peelings and scrubs,
- Make-up, blush and powder.
How harmful is microplastic?
According to current scientific knowledge, the health risk posed by plastic in cosmetics is manageable, because even in the smallest sizes it is not supposed to be absorbed, at least by our skin. But it is a major problem for our environment. Microplastics that end up in the drain through the use of the products mentioned above, for example, end up in our wastewater. Since it can hardly be filtered out by sewage treatment plants, it also pollutes our rivers and oceans. This microplastic-contaminated water is massively damaging our ecosystem. Since the particles, which readily bind pesticides to themselves and thus mutate into small toxic balls due to their structure, are not biodegradable, they are ingested by fish and other marine animals - and cause the animals to die or cause the microplastics to end up on our plates.
In addition to pesticides, numerous other environmental toxins, such as heavy metals, readily accumulate on microplastics. Thus, up to a hundred times higher pollutant levels have already been detected in microplastics than in seawater. As mentioned, microplastics also enter the human organism via the food chain through the consumption of fish. Possible consequences have not yet been adequately researched, but they suggest that such accumulations in the body will not remain without consequences.
Are there alternatives to microplastic?
Sure! Flours or minerals, silicic acid, flax sseds, seeds of fruits or salt and sugar crystals are just a few of many alternatives that are already being used!
What is happybrush doing against microplastic?
All happybrush toothpastes are 100% microplastic-free. In addition, we do not use any harmful ingredients such as triclosan and sodium lauryl sulphate.
How important clean drinking water is to us is also shown by our cooperation with organisations that campaign for the issue worldwide. Have you heard of #BrushForWater? This is our current project with the "Welthungerhilfe".
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