The cosmetics industry uses microplastics. For example, the plastic particles in scrubs exfoliate the skin. Plastics incorporated into skincare creams act as binders and produce a delicate sensation on the skin. In hair sprays and gels, ‘swelling’ plastics ensure that hairstyles stay in place… But all these products often end up in the environment after a shower. New directives have been put in place to reduce (or even eliminate if possible) their use.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are small particles (< 5 mm) of polymer (plastic) dispersed in the environment. They have become a cause for concern as they accumulate in soils, rivers, lakes and oceans among other places.

They can be fragments of plastic objects or plastic microbeads, which have been increasingly used by industry, particularly in cosmetics, for some years now.

For example, there are
– micro-pieces of polyethylene in certain toothpastes, used as an abrasive to remove plaque and exfoliate gums and/or as a colouring agent.
– small plastic flakes used to colour nail varnish or gel.

After washing, these plastic micro-matters will end up in the sewer and probably in a river or the sea.



Microplastics: a risk for the environment and health

Plastics are composed not only of polymers, but also of a mixture of different additives, which give the plastic its properties: flexibility, rigidity, fire resistance, etc. These additives are also potential chemical contaminants. These additives are also potential chemical contaminants. As a result, microplastics contain multiple constituents that can harm the environment and our health.

Restriction of microplastics in the beauty industry: It’s a done deal!

On 26 April 2023, the REACH Committee voted in favour of the European Commission’s proposed amendment to the REACH Regulation, published on 30 August 2022, aimed at restricting the use, and therefore the release into the environment, of microplastics deliberately added to everyday products, including cosmetics.

Well, 5 months later, on 27 September 2023 to be exact, Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 amending Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006) as regards restrictions on the use of synthetic polymer microparticles (microplastics) in consumer products, including cosmetics, was published in the Official Journal.

Key points:
❌This Regulation prohibits synthetic polymer microparticles meeting the 2 conditions, as defined therein, as substances on their own or, where synthetic polymer microparticles are present to impart a desired characteristic, in mixtures at a concentration equal to or greater than 0.01% by mass

✔️Il There are exemption and exclusion criteria detailed in the same Regulation.
For cosmetic products, transitional periods are granted, varying according to the type of product, to adapt to these new restrictions, i.e:
– 17 October 2027 for rinsed cosmetic products
– 17 October 2029 for non-rinse-off cosmetic products

For lipsticks, nail care products and make-up products, the restriction date is set at 17 October 2035, with an obligation from 17 October 2031 to include a statement on the label informing consumers of the presence of microplastics.


When we talk about plastics in cosmetics, the first thing that comes to mind is packaging or beauty accessories... But plastics also find their way into conventional cosmetics formulas in a much more discreet way. Silicones, polymers, nylons and other 'plastic' derivatives can be found in cosmetic products in solid or liquid form, and above all in the form of micro or even nanoparticles. Formulators therefore need to be vigilant from now on when selecting the ingredients and packaging that make up their products.

 If you want to work with experts to control the microplastic-free parameters of your beauty and well-being products, call on our services