According to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), over 42 kilotons of microplastics end up in the environment each year. Although the environmental harm inflicted by microplastics has been questioned in recent years, there is clear evidence that they accumulate in aquatic life and end up in food and drinking water. A microplastic has been defined by ECHA as a solid or insoluble synthetic polymer with the dimensions smaller than 5 mm This revised definition of microplastics is much broader than the definition that was introduced by ECHA in 2018 and solid microplastic beads were banned in rinse-off cosmetic formulations throughout Europe as a consequence. The revised definition poses a threat to most cosmetic manufacturers as it will include functional synthetic polymers, such as acrylic acid-based polymers, which are used in most cosmetic products today. Although there are many natural alternatives to these synthetic polymers, they often fall short in terms of properties such as stabilization of suspended ingredients, sensory effects and/or rheological profile.
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