Microbeads are a kind of microplastic. The cosmetics industry often limits the definition to solid plastic particles that have certain functions such as scrubbing and peeling or only rinse-off products. In 2012, Beat the Microbead started campaigning against rinse-off cosmetics products which contain visible and solid microbeads of Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or Nylon. Since then, there has been more research conducted on what “microplastics” are and how they impact the environment and people. With the term microbeads, we used to refer to the visible particles of plastic smaller than 5mm which are usually of spherical shape.
The term ‘microplastic’ is not consistently defined but is typically considered to refer to small, usually microscopic, solid particles made of a synthetic polymer. They are associated with long-term persistence in the environment if released, as they are very resistant to (bio)degradation. In cosmetics, “microplastic” refers to all types of tiny plastic particles that are intentionally added to personal care & cosmetic products. This definition continues to evolve in accordance with ongoing relevant scientific research.