How To Avoid Hidden Plastics in Beauty Products

As conscious beauty professionals we are already thinking about reducing our plastic consumption within our practise, but what about those hidden plastics inside the actual formulations?
An image of clear plastic

Table of Contents


Last week was Plastic Free Beauty Day, which is a day to highlight just how much plastic we use in the beauty industry. The global beauty industry produces over 142 billion units of packaging every year. Most of which from last year ended up in landfill or the ocean. According to the Soil Association’s 2019 Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Report 4.5million people don’t recycle bathroom products because it’s inconvenient. This is such a huge number, but something we can definitely work towards reducing. Firstly by reducing our products and then by recycling as much as we can – there are lots of great schemes available now.

Another thing we need to be talking about is the plastic within our beauty products. The microbead became headline news a few years back and after much campaigning, in 2018 the UK banned the use of plastic microbeads within cosmetic and personal care products. This was brilliant news, however, there is still cause for concern. Unfortunately, micro and nano plastics are actually quite commonplace in many skincare, make-up and hair formulations. 

Understanding Them + Delving Deeper

Over the last few years, we’ve been learning more and more about hidden plastics, they’re definitely still not understood fully, but we do know how increasingly hard it is to avoid them in general. If we can avoid them in our beauty products then why not!


Synthetic polymers such as dimethicone, Nylon-12, acrylates, PEGs and polyethylene can be found in many of our beauty products. They have many uses including emulsifying ingredients together, adding bulk or texture to a product and helping other ingredients to penetrate into the skin.

These hidden plastics turn up a lot in skincare, but also a lot in make-up too – waterproof and long-wearing make-up even more so. We understand the reasoning behind it – it’s the plastics that keep the makeup on – annoyingly so. That said taking time to apply makeup well and use products that are really suitable for your skin will go a long way in helping products last well. However sometimes as professional make-up artists, we can’t avoid them – if we are doing an underwater shoot for example. And indeed some ‘clean’ brands will contain them too.

Dimethicone is a common example, it’s included for texture and longevity.

From an environmental point of view they’re not great – as these products are washed off, the polymers will end up being washed down the sink and because they are so small, can ultimately end up in our waterways and soils. In terms of health and skin health, no-one really knows the long term affects. Yes, they may be used in very small amounts, but if all your products contain them, then they can add up to a lot. 

The Brands Leading The Way

Of course we don’t want or need more things to worry about, which is why it’s brilliant that brands like Weleda, Beauty Kitchen, Neal’s Yard Remedies and BYBI have been certified Zero Plastic on the Inside. Certified by the Plastic Soup Foundation, this means that everything in their range is free of these synthetic polymers.

Weleda who were recently certified have a great article here. They are also certified by Natrue which is also a great certification to look for. Natrue do not allow any substance of petrochemical origin, which means no microplastics. Look for Cosmos certification too.

Natrue Logo

The Campaign

The Plastic Soup Foundation is a wonderful resource for all things plastic, we’d really recommend a look. They started the microbead campaign and now have a dedicated website to beating microplastic within the cosmetics industry. They have an extensive list of plastics to avoid if its something you’d like to learn more about. They also have a great app to download.


We have a huge problem with plastic especially within our industry. We may not be able to avoid it completely, but there are certainly ways we can minimise our impact – the products we decide to use in our kit is one key way.

For more ways to make your kit more conscious why not check out these posts – 

Tips To Help Makeup Artists Work More Consciously In Film + TV​

3 Startling Issues In The Beauty Industry

CBU Pillars

Tabitha James Kraan X CBU Discount Promotion

This exclusive discount is available to our Associate, Premium + VIP members on an ongoing basis.

Beauty Kitchen Discount promo graphic

This exclusive discount is available to our Associate, Premium + VIP members on an ongoing basis.

Current Partner Discount

*Available to our Associate, Premium and VIP Members only.

Upgrade your membership

Get access to special discounts, add your voice to the conversation in our members-only monthly beauty chats and so much more!

Upgrade today for immediate access to exclusive member benefits.

sustainability education for beauty professionals

More articles in this category

©[2019 - 2021] Conscious Beauty Union | Website design by Vujà Dé Creative 


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account

Skip to content