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Microplastics: Cosmetic's hush-hush ingredient

Microplastics: Cosmetic's hush-hush ingredient

06.09.20

The human race’s reliance on plastics is leaving a world polluted, caused by laziness and greed.

Environmentally-friendly alternatives can be more challenging to manufacture and can put a dent in the profits of giant corporations.

Industries, therefore, often make plastic their number one option and, sadly, the cosmetics industry is one of the biggest culprits.

Big companies litter their ranges with plastic packaging and more than 142 billion units are produced globally every year within the beauty industry alone. When it comes to beauty packaging, 95 per cent is thrown away after just one use and only 14 per cent of it makes it to a recycling centre.

But there is an even darker secret within cosmetics and it is one campaigners are seeking to shine a light on: the use of microplastics within products.

From nylon to polypropylene, there are more than 500 officially-recognised microplastics commonly used within the cosmetics you use daily.

But there is a high chance that you don’t realise this as cosmetics companies have become accustomed to using chemical names which are largely unrecognisable.

The microplastics in cosmetics are tiny plastic particles - smaller than 5mm - that are intentionally added to cosmetics and personal care products. They are often used as emulsifying agents or just as cheap fillers.

Microbeads are a type of microplastic which have a specific function for scrubbing or exfoliating. It was recently reported by the BBC that the River Thames has some of the highest levels of microplastics of any river in the world, including microbeads.

These toxic microplastics - barely visible to the naked eye - flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer system and out into the ocean. Water treatment plants are unable to filter them out and, as a result, they are absorbed by sea animals.

The research carried out on water taken from the Thames revealed plastic in the bodies of crabs while microplastics have been discovered in the ocean’s fish and, as part of the food chain, the end result can be humans ingesting them.

There is strong evidence that our bodies are at risk. Every day we are exposed to plastics and their additives in a variety of ways, including through the use of cosmetics. Many of these additives are hormone disruptors which are shown to have harmful effects on life, especially when exposure occurs in developmental stages. 

Even more alarming is the fact that the vast majority of additives have not been tested at all.

Lipsticks often contain microplastics like polyethylene or polyethylene-terephthalate (PET). People are likely to ingest lipstick accidentally through consuming food or licking their lips while wearing it. 

A ‘long lasting’ lipstick is likely to contain plastic in order to keep it smudge-proof.

Zero Plastic Inside

Here at Juni, we pride ourselves on having values which are centred around being kind to the planet, and to the individual.

For this reason, we would never create a product which contains microplastics.

As a result, we are delighted that we have been certified as 'Zero Plastic Inside' by the Plastic Soup Foundation’s 'Beat the Microbead' campaign.

The Plastic Soup Foundation has a single cause: stopping plastic pollution at its source. The organisation focuses on the relationship between plastic and human health and seeks to educate the world on the need to reduce our reliance on plastic.

The foundation is a member of the global movement, Break Free From Plastic, whose European co-ordinator, Delphine Lévi Alvarès, said: “Microplastics do not belong in our cosmetics.”

“It’s a design failure that is putting our environment and health at risk, and it’s completely unnecessary as there are enough alternatives. This is why the EU has taken the initiative to restrict them, and it is critical that everybody gets behind this process so that it leads to an EU wide ban.”

The ‘Beat the Microbead’ campaign has already convinced nearly 450 cosmetics brands to stop using microbeads in their products.

A smartphone app has also been developed - and downloaded nearly 250,000 times - for consumers to easily discover what their cosmetics products contain.

Simply scan the product’s barcode and you’ll instantly see what, if any, microplastics are hidden in there. 

Then it’s over to you to make your decision.