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Plastic Cosmetics: It Isn’t Only in the Packaging

The ubiquitous plastic strikes again!

Having been found in our table salt, our seafood, our drinking water and even detected in the air we breathe, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to the topic of plastic – it has gotten quite out of hand. Unfortunately, due to a broken system driven by greed and all importance put on economic growth as opposed to citizen health – we do need to take matters into our own hands. 

We are now learning that plastic is affecting our health, and aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to taking the right measures to insure the toxic material does not enter our bodies and blood streams. 

We are here to help identify which products and companies to stay away from, and what simple swaps can be done to avoid plastic ingestion and absorption.

Earlier this week we spoke about billions of plastic particles leaching into our tea due to the use of plastic in the making and sealing of our tea bags. A simple switch to loose leaf accompanied by an infuser will keep the plastic away. 

Today, we take a look at the stuff we rub on our face and underarms, apply to our lips, and spray directly onto the largest organ- our skin. From deodorant and shaving cream to eye shadow and sunscreen, all these everyday products are laced with plastic polymers. And few regulations are put into place banning the use of toxic chemicals and plastics in our personal care products – only 8 chemicals banned in the U.S – leaving it to us to minimize our exposure.

Why would companies put plastic, a toxic material, into the products that we put on our skin anyway? Well, for convenience and to lower costs of course! Plastics in personal care products are being used as bulking agents to increase the volume of a product, as microbeads for cheap exfoliators, and as film-formation agents for makeup, sunscreen and hair products to leave a cohesive and continuous covering. 

What do these microplastics do once they enter our bodies? We know plastic is entering our bodies, the damning evidence has been found in human feces, but what effect does it have on us once it gets into our system? Phthalates are a group of chemical substances added to plastics and can be found in hundreds of cosmetics. These are known endocrine disruptors. Your endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones; which help control mood, growth and development, the way our organs work, metabolism, and reproduction. So it is a pretty massive deal to be messing with our endocrine system.

The average adult has about 5 million pores all of which actively absorb a large amount of what you put on your skin. What and how much it absorbs depends on a lot of factors including skin temperature, chemical concentration and length of exposure. What we do know is that exposing your skin to 8 different products a day, over a hundred different non-organic and potentially harmful and cancer causing chemicals, is definitely a risk we should not be willing to take. 

How can we avoid it? Identifying the products and companies that we know contain microplastics and other kinds of plastic polymers. Here are a few we came to find, but before buying, do quick research. (This list contains companies that have plastic in some of their products, not necessarily ALL their products):

  • Aveeno
  • Clean & Clear
  • Unilever
  • Dove
  • Neutrogena
  • Olay
  • Sephora
  • The Body Shop

Download the Beat The Microbead App on your phone to scan and check other products! They’ve done a lot of research, use your resources!

The brands leading by example and steering clear of plastic beauty products can be found here:

  • Seed Phytonutrients 
  • Antonym Cosmetics
  • Elate Cosmetics
  • Kjaer Weis
  • Tata Harper

A few other things to keep in mind to keep your self care routine plastic free:

  • If you don’t recognize it, don’t buy it.
  • Look out for these specific ingredients : phthalates, parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, iso, benzyl etc), TEA & DEA (Triethanolamine and Diethanolamine), sulfates, Vitamin A Compounds (Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, Retinol), Aluminum (Also Seen as Potassium or Ammonium Alum)
  • Shop local- support local companies that you believe in and trust where the products are coming from. 

Beyond the plastic packaging… what the plastic ingredients INSIDE these products do to the environment as it gets washed down the sink and into our water streams is extremely harmful in a different way.  

The plastic ingredients do not decompose in wastewater treatment systems, which can be lacking in large parts of the world. The ingredients are emitted via raw sewage, treated effluents or with sewage sludge applied as fertilizer (biosolids) on agricultural land, landfilled or dumped at sea. And guess what? It generally makes its way into the food chain, and back into our households – only it looks a little different, because it’s quickly become an ingredient in our next meal.

All this to say – BE A CONSCIOUS CONSUMER, look out for what you are using on the daily and we will do our best to look out for you too, that’s a promise.