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What is microplastic in beauty products and what impact does it have on ocean pollution?

Microplastic is something you probably have heard of before, especially if you are trying to be more sustainable and have less of an impact on the planet with your beauty routine. But what are microplastics exactly? Why are there microplastics in some beauty products? And what effect do they have on the pollution of waterways and oceans? You will find answers to all your burning questions regarding microplastic pollution here.

microplastic in beauty products and their impact on the oceans infographic

What are microplastics?

Microplastic refers to any type of very small and solid plastic particle that litters waters and oceans. They often start as larger pieces of plastic but break down into smaller pieces that ultimately don’t dissolve and aren’t biodegradable. They aren’t bigger than 5mm and therefore hard to spot. This kind of broken-down microplastic is called ‘secondary microplastic’. In beauty products ‘primary microplastic’ is more common – particles that are intentionally designed as tiny pieces of plastic.

Why are there microplastics in beauty products?

In cosmetic and beauty products, microplastic refers to very small, solid pieces of plastic that are used as emulsifying agents or fillers. Microplastics in beauty products often occur in the shape of microbeads. These little pieces of plastic act as exfoliating particles, for example in body or face scrubs.

Nowadays, lots of beauty companies are committed to helping prevent global microplastic pollution and switched to more natural alternatives. Different waxes and starches or other natural compounds are now common exfoliating agents. If you want to switch to a more natural body scrub, you can try our Peace and Glow Creamy Body Scrub, which uses easily dissolvable sugar instead of microbeads.

Ways to reduce ocean pollution

ocean waves hitting the sandy beach

Because microplastics are such tiny particles, they are hardly visible to the naked eye and don’t seem to have a negative impact on us. But they can harm humans in the long run.

Microplastics aren’t biodegradable and don’t ever break down completely. We use them in beauty products and flush them through waterways right into our water treatment systems. But the particles are often too small to be filtered out and end up in the oceans, playing their part in the microplastic pollution in oceans. Marine animals then consume microplastic, and it becomes part of the marine food chain. This way it can ultimately end up on our plates.

Other than avoiding beauty products that contain microbeads, you should also consider the packaging and your plastic use in general. This also plays a big part in microplastic pollution. Wherever possible, try the following ways to reduce ocean pollution:

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