Are suppliers already ahead of the curve on microbeads?

* 1 min read

Earlier this year MPs called for a ban on microbeads in cosmetics. The tiny plastic particles are used in face scrubs and toiletries, and are said to be impacting on the environment, with claims they’ve been found frozen in Arctic ice and on the ocean floor. But is it something beauty brands need to worry about? We asked senior regulatory manager Tess Lawrence for her expert take on the headlines.

Microbeads in face washes, body scrubs and other exfoliators are big news at the minute. Having been influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, the cosmetic industry applied the idea of the use of micro beads, little plastic beads, used in body scrubs and face washes. The issue with their use is that the plastic beads do not degrade and, as a result, have been found in fish and further up the food chain in bird life. As a result of environmental campaigning there has been a call for a ban on these ingredients, and quite right too.

However, this news is not really new. Microbeads have form, literally, and from our point of view we have already seen a shift in the use of the micro-bead component to a natural alternative, fruit pips and raw materials such as ground down apricot kernels. In very much the same manner as parabens in baby wipes, whether legal or illegal, if the market has turned away from the use of a particular ingredient, there is no motivation for the suppliers to include the ingredient in its product as it will simply not sell.

So by all means, it is a wise thing for the government to ban these beads but the suppliers I have seen have already moved away from them. The suppliers’ motivation behind their actions may be slightly different but the end point remains the same.