What are microplastics and why do they matter in the beauty industry?

Superzero is proud to be certified by the Plastic Soup Foundation as 100% microplastic free. The “Look for the Zero” seal guarantees customers that a product is free from all microplastics and nanoplastics. Moreover, with the “BEAT THE MICRO BEAD” app from the Plastic Soup Foundation you can check if there is any plastic in a product’s ingredients. You can use this app to check to see if there are microplastics in shampoo or any other beauty products.

What are microplastics or microbeads?

Microplastics are polymers that are persistent, bioaccumulative, and/or toxic and that are not readily biodegradable in all environmental departments. Some other definitions of microplastics only include solid plastic particles below a certain size but such a narrow definition which is often applied in the beauty industry overlooks ingredients in liquid or gel form that can be damaging to our environment. Like so often, definitions are where disputes arise and they can be very “interest-group” driven. In the beauty industry, a good example for that is dimethicone which doesn’t fall under the “solid definition” but which has been found to be poorly biodegradable, expected to persist in the environment, and expected to be toxic to aquatic organisms. Even if dimethicone is caught in wastewater treatment plants, in many countries  the sludge is applied to agricultural lands, resulting in microplastics in agricultural soil which is of growing concern.

Microbeads are a kind of microplastic with specific function for scrubbing or exfoliating. In cosmetics, “microplastic” refers to all types of tiny plastic particles (smaller than 5mm) that are intentionally added to cosmetics and personal care products. Microbeads are often used as emulsifying agents or just as cheap fillers. 

Why are microplastics bad?

Microplastics are very damaging to the environment where they take forever to degrade and harm our oceans and marine life in the process. In addition, they are harmful to human health. We inhale plastics (e.g., through household dust), we eat plastic (microplastics in water are ingested by marine animals and passed along the food chain, harming both marine life and human health), we drink microplastics (microplastic contamination of drinking water has been shown to be quite widespread), and microplastics are connected to fertility problems (due to endocrine disruptors found in plastics). There even is a link between plastic debris and the risk of infectious disease as pieces of plastic that hold water are potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes and floating plastic can be a source for the spread of pathogens. 

Are microplastics present in the cosmetic industry?

The beauty industry contributes to the issue of microplastics through the use of plastic packaging that takes forever to degrade, and through the use of microplastics in formulations. Through packaging alone, the beauty industry creates 120 billion units of plastic waste every year. Microplastics are prevalent in the beauty industry and are added to formulations, e.g. as emulsifying agents, texture enhancers, or cheap fillers. These microplastics flow straight from your bathroom drain into the sewer system and through wastewater treatments that are not always designed to filter all of them out. They ultimately contribute to the “Plastic Soup” swirling around in our oceans.  If you want to help avoid this, look for zero plastic products both in the way they are packaged and by checking the ingredient list (look out for prevalent ingredients, e.g.  Acrylates, silicones such as Dimethicone, Polysilicone-15, Amodimethicone, or some PEGs).

Why is superzero safe and free from microplastics?

At superzero, we follow the precautionary approach that is propagated by the Plastic Soup Foundation as we aim to protect the environment and your health from microplastics while at the same time delivering top performing beauty products without compromise. You can check out the “Look for the Zero” seal on our website.