A question for science – why do so many cosmetics contain plastic?

At first glance, these things have nothing to do with each other — however, depending on the product category, up to 75 percent of cosmetics contain microplastics. The problem with this is that traditional plastics degrade slowly in nature. In addition, small plastic particles collect in streams, rivers and the sea, but at the same time also through the food chain in animals – and eventually in humans.

A person ingests several grams of plastic each week. In addition, some plastics also release harmful chemicals into the environment. There are several reasons for using microplastics in cosmetics: Microplastics act as an abrasive in exfoliation, and some creams contain microplastics to make them appear smoother. Microplastics are used in hair care products, which wrap around the hair and thus prevent styling.

Professor (FH) Priv. Doz. DI Dr. Uwe Rinner leads the Applied Chemistry course at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems.

IMC FH Krems


Even if using microplastics seems understandable, we are not doing ourselves any good in the long run. However, it is possible to access the product without microplastics. To do this, we have to pay great attention to lowercase letters. Terms such as acrylate copolymer and polyquatinium refer to microplastics.

Recently, there have also been applications (for Android and Apple devices that can be found under terms such as “scanner” and “ingredients”) that identify products that contain microplastics. Control is the only option until laws prohibit its use. Cosmetics can do without plastic particles.

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