Why are you using plastics to wash your face and brush your teeth?

Have you heard of Microbeads?  Here’s what I have got to tell you about it:

Microbeads are tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic added to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpaste.

Microbeads are not a recent problem. According to the United Nations Environment Programme,
plastic microbeads first appeared in personal care products about fifty years ago, with plastics increasingly replacing natural ingredients.

If we pay attention to the products that we consume we can understand we are not on the right track towards caring for our health. Most health and beauty products that we consume in reality don’t improve our health or beauty instead they degrade what’s good. 

Their use goes well beyond the scrubbing effect in scrubs. Plastic ingredients are applied in a variety of leave-on and rinse-off formulations such as deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lipstick, hair coloring, shaving cream, sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-wrinkle creams, moisturizers, hair spray, facial masks, baby care products, eye shadow, mascara, etc. Microbeads and other plastic ingredients are present in different products at different percentages, ranging from less than 1% to more than 90% in some cases. For example, a typical exfoliating shower gel can contain roughly as much microplastic in the cosmetic formulation as is used to make the plastic packaging it comes in. 

Plastic ingredients in PCCPs that are poured down the drain after use, cannot be collected for recycling (unlike the packaging, which can be recycled). 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. 

How big are these plastics? There is more to ‘microbeads’ than meets the eye –while some are large enough to be easily visible to the naked eye, other microbeads on the market for PCCP formulations are as small as 1 µm. Others are even smaller than that (nano-particulates).  

The size of the particulates applied depends on the function in the cosmetic formulation. Many of the particulates in (plastics in cosmetics and personal care products)PCCPs today are between 1 and 50 µm in size.


How do we come out of this crisis?

We buy a lot of products on a day-to-day basis. 

  • Start to monitor the products you buy
  • Categorize them under two buckets [useful, healthy  and value for money]  and  [useful, unhealthy and waste of money]

How do you categorise a product as healthy and unhealthy?

  • If it is a food product look for the carbohydrates, sugar, fat and preservatives. 
  • If it’s a beauty or personal care product. Browse and identify the amount of acidity, microbeads present. In fact, there are apps that tell the amount of microbeads in the product that you buy. 

At the end of the day, be it an app or the web,
it’s in your hands to use your intellect to identify good and bad.  Make
every expense carefully. Let’s not get cheated by the fake marketing. 

Wake up guys. Stay awake when it comes to buying. Going on shopping might be interesting but be mindful of what you choose. You are buying a disease or buying good health. All products that are tagged as healthy are not healthy. 

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

Author: Arasu Seran

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