Care Without Polyethylene Particles

So-called “microplastic particles” (or “microbeads”) are solid plastic particles, smaller than 5 millimeters, that are water-insoluble and not biodegradable (according to the definition by UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program). These particles are seen as especially problematic due to their presence in the world’s oceans. Microplastics have highly diverse sources, although they most frequently originate from larger pieces of plastic that have been progressively fragmented by weather and erosion. Fibers from synthetic clothing or smaller plastic particles from everyday consumer products are further sources of microplastics.

drop of microcellulose particles

At Beiersdorf we have always paid the utmost attention to both the quality and the long-term ecological impact of our products, and have proactively taken responsibility. For this reason we took a preventative decision back in 2013 to eliminate the use of polyethylene (PE) particles from all our brands’ skin care products, and to replace them with environmentally friendly alternatives.

These formula changes were completed worldwide by the end of 2015, replacing the particles in the majority of cases with microcrystalline cellulose particles, and mixtures of microcrystalline cellulose, silicon dioxide particles and castor wax in others. Cellulose is a biodegradable, natural organic material that is also present in plant fibers. The chemical composition of silicon dioxide is very similar to that of quartz sand, while castor wax is a natural, biodegradable raw material with a hard, wax-like consistency. The replacement particles have the same effect and are just as gentle and skin-friendly as their predecessors.

Beyond this we have set ourselves a further, ambitious objective for 2020. Some of our rinse-off products still include solid synthetic polymer particles that serve as opacifiers and colorants, amongst other functions. By 2020, we plan to completely remove these ingredients too from our rinse-off products as a precautionary measure, and are currently working intensively on corresponding solutions.

For further information, please visit our FAQ.