June 17th is Plastic Free Beauty Day, which is a day to highlight just how much plastic we use in the beauty industry. The global beauty industry produces over 142 billion units of packaging every year. Most of which from last year ended up in landfill or the ocean. According to the Soil Association’s 2019 Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Report 4.5million people don’t recycle bathroom products because it’s inconvenient. It’s crazy, but definitely – surely – something we can all commit to changing – recycling or even just not buying!
Another thing we need to be talking about is the plastic within our beauty products. The microbead became headline news a few years back and after much campaigning, in 2018 the UK banned the use of plastic microbeads within cosmetic and personal care products. This was brilliant news, however there is still cause for concern. Unfortunately micro and nano plastics are actually quite common place in many skincare, make-up and hair formulations.
Synthetic polymers such as dimethicone, Nylon-12, acrylates, PEGs and polyethylene can be found in many of our beauty products. They have many uses including emulsifying ingredients together, adding bulk or texture to a product and helping other ingredients to penetrate into the skin.
So what’s the problem with them? From an environmental point of view they’re not great – as these products are washed off, the polymers will end up being washed down the sink and because they are so small, can ultimately end up in our waterways and soils. In terms of health and skin health, no-one really knows the long term affects. Yes they may be used in very small amounts, but if all your products contain them, then they can add up to a lot.
Over the last few years we’ve been learning more and more about microplastics, they’re definitely still not understood fully, but we do know how increasingly hard it is to avoid them. If we can avoid them in our skincare then why not!
Of course we don’t want or need more things to worry about, which is why it’s brilliant that brands like Weleda, Beauty Kitchen, Neal’s Yard Remedies and BYBI have been certified Zero Plastic on the Inside. Certified by the Plastic Soup Foundation, this means that everything in their range is free of these synthetic polymers.
Weleda are also certified by Natrue which is also a great certification to look for. Natrue do not allow any substance of petrochemical origin, which means no microplastics. Look out for a video I did for Weleda talking about hidden plastics for Plastic Free Beauty Day, they also have a great in-depth article here..
The Plastic Soup Foundation is a wonderful resource for all things plastic, I’d really recommend a look. They started the microbead campaign and now have a dedicated website to beating microplastic within the cosmetics industry. They have an extensive list of plastics to avoid if its something you’d like to learn more about. They also have a great app to download.
These plastics turn up a lot in skincare, but also a lot in make-up too – waterproof and long wearing make-up even more so. I understand the reasoning behind it – it’s the plastics that keep the makeup on – annoyingly so. We all want our make-up to stay on I’m sure, but do we want layers of plastic on our face every day.
Some ‘clean’ brands will contain them too – I touched on it on a previous post here..
I’m definitely not a fan of them in skincare, but understand the need sometimes in make-up. That said I think taking time to apply make-up well and use products that are really suitable for your skin, will go a long way in helping products last well.
Like everything it’s about being as aware as we can – making conscious decisions that work for us, but also knowing their wider effect.
We have a huge problem with plastic, and if we can minimise that by simply changing our beauty products, what is there to lose? Let’s try and make Plastic Free Beauty Day every day!