Microbeads ban should extend to make-up, say campaigners

Green campaign group Fauna & Flora International says the ban on microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics should be extended to make-up.  

The issue has arisen after a survey found polyethylene (which is used to make microbeads), PTFE, nylon 6, nylon 12 and polymethyl methacrylate, listed among the ingredients in cosmetic make-up products and used to add bulk and texture or act as a binding agent.

Some face powders, blushers, eyeshadows, lipsticks and mascaras on the market contain plastic in various chemical formats, including L’Oréal’s Lancôme long-lasting powder blusher and some of its eyeshadows, and Max Factor’s kohl eyeliner pencil.

Dilyana Mihaylova, spokesman for Fauna & Flora International, said: “Limiting the scope of a ban to rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products will not effectively protect our seas from other products that contain microplastics and are often washed down the drain.’

However, many in the beauty industry believe the material isn’t a microplastic and should be allowed in products. The Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association, which speaks for manufacturers, said: “Leave-on cosmetic products do not contain solid plastic microbeads. They may use polymers to ensure easy spreading.”

L’Oréal agreed, with a spokesperson from the company commenting: “Leave-on products are not intended to go down the drain. The vast majority of ingredients in cosmetics are in the form of liquids or waxes. Unless an ingredient is in a solid form it is not plastic and will not contribute to marine plastic litter.”

Last year, the UK Government announced plans to ban microbeads used in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2017. Microbeads are solid plastic particles less than five millimetres in size and are found in many beauty products including facial exfoliators, body scrubs and toothpaste. They are extremely harmful to marine life, which are ingesting them, resulting in toxins further up the food chain.

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