Home FAQWhat is the difference between microbeads and microplastics?

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 5 millimeters which are usually of spherical shape. 
The term ‘microplastic’ is not consistently defined but is typically considered to refer to small, solid plastic particles. They are associated with long-term persistence in the environment if released, as they are very resistant to biodegradation. In our opinion, microplastic in cosmetics refers to all types of plastic particles that are intentionally added to personal care & cosmetic products, regardless of whether it is solid, liquid, soluble or “biodegradable”. This definition continues to evolve in accordance with ongoing relevant scientific research.