Microplastic Replacement in Personal Care Products


Published: 13 October 2021

Microplastics are non-degradable polymers that take hundreds of years to decompose. Due to their small size, they cannot be collected and recycled but pollute the world’s ecosystems, especially our oceans. A considerable part is absorbed by marine animals and ends up in our food chain.

Why microplastics need to be replaced

Most visibly, microplastics are contained in wash-off products such as shower gels or face masks to create an exfoliating effect. Those polyethylene (PE) or polyurethane (PU) particles are easy to detect, whereas others go unnoticed by consumers because they cannot be identified as such at a glance. Here is a brief overview of common microplastics and their main functions:

  • (Polyethylene)Nylon 12/Nylon 6: bulking agent, stabilizer, rheology modifier
  • Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT): film formation, viscosity modifier
  • Acrylates copolymer: binding or suspending agent
  • Allyl stearate / vinyl acetate copolymer: film formation, hair fixative
  • Butylene/ethylene/styrene copolymer: viscosity control
  • Styrene acrylates copolymer: color flakes for makeup products
  • Trimethylsiloxysilicate (silicone resin): film formation, e.g. in sunscreen products

As the contaminating effects are proven by abundant research and can no longer be neglected, government initiatives to ban microplastics have emerged in recent years. In most European and North American countries, the issue is a top priority on the regulatory agenda.

Microplastic Replacement Personal Care Products

Alternatives to microplastic for manufacturers of personal care products

More and more brand owners and contract manufacturers have committed to microplastic-free formulation. This can be a challenge as polymer microspheres offer certain technical benefits (such as spherical shape, color, texture, weight) that can be difficult to achieve with natural alternatives. Especially silicones that are used to create strong barrier properties in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers or lubricants are hard to phase out. Certain ingredients made from natural extracts are on the rise with high potential for optimization.

In cleansing products, synthetic skin abrasives can be replaced very easily by biodegradable options. The list of non-contaminating peeling grains is long and ranges from sea salt, sugar, ground corn cob, silica up to innovative particles made from upcycled agricultural by-products.

Rheology modifiers in solid cosmetics such as lipstick, face powder or eyeshadow can be of plant-based origin: powdery particles come in many forms and shapes, and in some instances they are multifunctional. Besides the texturizing properties they can add natural colors and work as carriers for (bio-based) pigments or fragrances.

Microplastic Personal Care Products

Our replacement solution: fine powders and granules made from circular resources

At BioPowder.com our mission is two-fold: to produce innovative personal care ingredients as microplastic substitutes and to make a lasting environmental contribution. Our manufacturing process creates valuable micro-powders from upcycled waste and offers new streams of income to local fruit processors in Spain and Morocco. Following rigorous sustainability standards, we produce granular additives to be used as

Biodegradable exfoliators: smooth or intense particles with harmonious edges – for light, medium and intense cleansing effects. Tailored to ease microbead replacement in existing product lines. Effective natural scrub grain options for a variety of new formulations. Suitable for a wide range of abrasive products such as body, foot, hand, face or lip scrubs.

Bulking agents, cosmetic fillers and texturizers: natural lignocellulosic powders made from upcycled olive stones and other sustainable raw materials. Our advanced micronisation technology allows us to provide bespoke grain size ranges with powdery or granular textures.

Natural pigments or pigment carriers: fine powders made of 100% fruit shells and stones. They are residues of the fruit processing or oil producing industries, which means that our production reduces waste while creating a new value chain.

  • Almond shell powder: a light brown, creamy powder made from 100% almond shells. We collect top-grade almond shells from almond processors to whom we offer new ways of waste disposal.
  • Apricot stone powder: fine ground shells of the apricot stone, after separation from the oily seed used for apricot seed oil manufacturing.
  • Argan shell powder: a true natural treasure from Morocco. Originates from women’s cooperatives dedicated to the ecological production of argan oil.
  • Olive stone powder: produced from the leftovers of the extra-virgin olive oil production. The powder has a pleasant light beige tone and is completely inodorous.
  • Pistachio shell powder: a smooth, multifunctional additive with a pleasant off-white color.

If you are looking for a solution to replace microplastics in personal care products, please do not hesitate to contact us. We support you in choosing the best solution and manufacture our natural ingredients in small and large batches.

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