Future of Synthetic Polymers in Cosmetics

L. Pottié

Ingredients of cosmetic products end their life to a large extent in wastewater streams or in some cases in surface water. As
a result their potential environmental impact and persistency recently raised attention. In particular, the European chemical
agency (ECHA) published early 2019 a proposal to restrict the use of intentionally added microplastics in cosmetics and other
products. The proposal is still in the consultation phase at the moment this article is written and should enter into force in 2020.
Although the restriction only applies to solid particles, the discussions have nowadays extended to all types of synthetic polymers,
often wrongly categorized as microplastics or as persistent in the environment. However, liquid film forming polymers do
not fulfill the microplastic definition, and some liquid polymers such as polyurethanes can be biodegradable. These examples
show the necessity to carefully distinguish between synthetic polymer types while formulating. In this paper an overview of the
regulatory and environmental profile of various cosmetic polymers is given, with focus on film forming polymers.


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