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Here, we have summarized the most frequently asked questions about the app.


Can the app detect ingredients that are not listed in English?
The app currently only scans product labels and ingredients in English. The app will not give accurate results if the product label and ingredients are in any other language. We might add different languages at a later stage. 

Meanwhile, you can check if your product is already in our database 
My product is round, and the app can’t read the entire ingredient list. What can I do?
The entire ingredients list must be in the camera frame for the app to give accurate results. If your bottle is a cylinder, rounded or circular, some ingredients may fall out of the image, or some words are cut in half. The shape of your product might be the reason why the app was not able to assess it. 

We are trying our best to find a solution for such products. But, in the meantime, you can try finding the ingredients of your products on the brand's website and scan from there.  

We are constantly checking and adding products to our database. You can search this database for product information here and check if they have microplastics or not.
The app gives different scan results for the same product. How can that be?
There can be multiple reasons why that might happen. First, the product might be cylindrical, rounded, or circular in shape. When you scan a product with such a shape, some words might fall out of the camera frame, and the app might not recognize the words it doesn't see.  Secondly, sometimes brands experiment with different ingredient compositions for the same products. This might be why the same products give different results because brands are constantly changing the ingredients of their products.  

That's why we advise you to always scan your products before buying. Or only buy your cosmetics and care products from trusted green and natural brands. 

Want some recommendations? Try our 'Zero Plastic Inside' Brands!  
Why should I always scan cosmetic and care products for microplastics before buying?
The cosmetic and personal care products industry is one of the fastest-growing and changing industries. Brands keep changing their product formulation, constantly adding or removing ingredients. Hence, we advise you to always keep a close check on the products you buy. 

Based on the most recent research or by discovering (skeptical) microplastics through the maintenance of our database, we constantly add new ingredients to our red and orange lists. That's why we recommend constantly scanning your products before buying. 

The database on our website is always up-to-date with these changes. So you can always go there to check the status of your products.
I have added products to your database, but I still do not see them on your website. Why is that?
Thank you for submitting the product you scanned. The data we are able to generate with your help is of enormous importance. 

The number of products sent to us by the app users has been fantastic and overwhelming. At this moment, we have over 120,000 products waiting for our approval. We are a small team with a limited number of hands and are trying our best to add as many products as possible to our database daily.   

You can contribute to our crowdfunding so we can get more help!  
Does the app also scan detergents and cleaning products?
Unfortunately, detergents, dishwashing liquids, and other cleaning products are not obliged to mention all the ingredients on their products. This is the reason why we do not include them in our app at the moment because the assessment won't be accurate. 

If you can find the entire ingredient list online on the brand website, you can take a photo of that with the app to check for microplastics.  
I want to replace my products with microplastics with clean alternatives. Where can I find a list of products that are 100% free of microplastics?
You can choose from our hundreds of 100% microplastic-free 'Zero Plastic Inside. Alternatively, you can check the product lists on our website to check which products do not contain microplastic ingredients.   
I have a suggestion to improve the app. How can I get in touch with you?
We value your insights and feedback. If you have any suggestions, do not hesitate to reach out through the contact form on our website.  
I am a microplastic-free brand. How can I get the ‘Zero Plastic Inside’ acknowledgment logo?
If you are a brand that does not use microplastic ingredients in your products, you can have our 'Zero Plastic Inside' acknowledgment logo. For more information, contact us 
I have supported the crowdfunding you started last year. How will my contribution be put to use?
Thank you for supporting us with your donation. We are truly grateful. We will use the money we raise to keep the app free for everyone and check all products and add them one by one to our database. With every euro you donate, we will be able to add two products to our database. With your contribution, we can also make the app even more user-friendly.

All the information we are collecting through the app will help us expose the microplastics use of the industry and convince politicians to ban plastic ingredients in cosmetics.

Here, we have summarized the most frequently asked questions about the campaign.


What are microbeads and what is their function?​
Microbeads are small plastic particles that are intentionally added to personal care products and are usually of spherical shape. They are commonly used in exfoliating products and toothpaste. ‘Microbead’ is a marketing term introduced by the cosmetic industry. The microbeads that the industry refers to are mainly made of Polyethylene (PE) and Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA).      
What 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.
Why do manufacturers add microplastic ingredients to cosmetics?
Tiny plastic particles are considered pleasant-feeling skin-scrubbers and tend to have a smoother effect than natural ingredients, like nut shells or salt. Different microplastic ingredients in cosmetics have different functions, for example film formation or viscosity regulation. The cosmetics industry uses microplastic ingredients because of these functions and because microplastics fill up products at a low cost. In some cases, up to 10% of a cosmetic product may be comprised of microplastic ingredients.
Is there a list of all microplastic ingredients that are used?
There are no comprehensive lists of all synthetic polymers that can be considered as microplastic ingredients. Up until 2019, our campaign was based on research conducted and published by UNEP and the Belgian Tauw. Today, with the restriction proposal by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), we have come across more than 550 microplastic ingredients widely used in cosmetics and personal care products. This information can be quite daunting, which is why we created four product categories: Red, Orange, Green, and Zero.
How can I see if the ingredients in the products are solid, nano, liquid or soluble?
Unfortunately, you cannot see from the ingredient list in which form it’s used. Only the microbeads have been phased out and any other microplastic ingredients are still in use. Plastics regardless of their solid, liquid or soluble state are registered in our BTMB database.
What are the effects of microplastics in the environment?
Microplastics have a damaging effect on marine life because marine animals often mistake them for food. They are passed along the marine food chain and since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain we also eat these plastic particles. In addition to this, plastic is very persistent and once microplastics enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove. Because of this, microplastics in cosmetics ultimately contribute to the plastic soup swirling around the world’s oceans.
Is there any scientific evidence that microplastics pollute the oceans?
Yes, there is already much scientific evidence of microplastic pollution, such as the findings of Professor Richard Thompson (University of Plymouth) who also coined the term. The presence of microplastics in aquatic environments is now recognized as a serious global environmental issue; however, cosmetics are not the only source of microplastic pollution. Most microplastics are the result of the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic. Other sources of microplastics include the shedding of microfibers by synthetic clothing or microplastic loss from car tires. 
Is it dangerous for my health to use products with microplastics?
We are not sure yet. We do know that microplastics have the potential to do harm to human health. Microplastics can cause inflammation, DNA damage and cellular damage among others. How many microplastics are entering our bodies on a daily basis, and to what extent these accumulate in our bodies is still uncertain. Microplastics have however been found in many different products (e.g. seafood, water, fruit and vegetables) and in indoor and outdoor air. We eat, drink and breathe microplastics every day. Plastics have been found in human placentas and blood. Considering all this, our dependency on plastics including in our personal care products must be greatly reduced. If you want to know more about the (micro)plastics and their potential health risks, visit Plastic Health Coalition website. Have a look at our Guide to Microplastics page for more information.
Why has Beat the Microbead changed its focus?
When we started the Beat the Microbead campaign in 2012, our focus was solely on the five ingredients most commonly known to be used as microbeads in cosmetic products: Polyethylene (PE), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polypropylene (PP), Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon. That is why the BTMB app, which we launched in 2012, only focused on these five plastic ingredients. Now, thanks to the extensive research done by the European Chemical Agency, we know there are more than hundreds of microplastic ingredients widely used in cosmetics and personal care products. You will find microplastic ingredients not only in scrubs but also in products like lipstick, eyeliner, sunscreen and other everyday products. The Beat the Microbead campaign grows wider in scope to accommodate research surrounding microplastic ingredients. In April 2022 we launched the #DaretoCare campaign as part of the Beat the Microbead campaign. In this campaign, we analyzed the data from the Beat the Microbead that is gathered since 2020. We looked into the data about the 4 biggest producers of care products in Europe. And from their ten most popular brands 9 out of 10 appeared to contain microplastic ingredients.   
Why are you blaming the big industry?
The cosmetics industry is intentionally adding plastic ingredients to their products that are polluting our environment irreversibly. It is possible to make products without microplastics. The ZERO inside products are proof of that.
What are rinse-off and leave-on products?
Rinse-off products are intended to be washed off after application on the skin and hair. These include shower gels and shampoos. Leave-on products are intended to stay on the skin and include body creams, sunscreens, hair sprays and oils, etc. 
Currently, the majority of bans on microplastics pertain only to rinse-off products and disregard leave-on products. We want to restrict the use of microplastics in all consumer or industrial products. That is why Beat the Microbead does not refer to rinse-off or leave-on products, but to cosmetic products in general.
Are there any microplastic-free products?
It is vital for conscious consumers to know that the cosmetics they buy are free of microplastic ingredients. Otherwise, they might still be polluting the seas without realizing it. 
We decided to challenge the burden of proof. Instead of consumers having to check labels that are difficult to understand, we ask producers to sign a statement asserting that their cosmetics are completely free of microplastic ingredients. Companies that make a public statement that their products are free of microplastic ingredients are allowed to use our Look for the Zero logo.
What are good replacements for microplastics?
You can choose from over a hundred Zero Plastic Inside products. Alternatively, you can check the product lists on our website to check which products do not contain microplastic ingredients.
Why do you focus on the ingredients and not on the packaging?
We absolutely agree also cosmetic producers should tackle plastic packaging too. Fortunately, there is a new movement in solid products, like bars and refill options and we encourage the industry to move to these solutions as well. With the BTMB campaign, we focus on the plastic inside the bottles because they are intentionally added to the products and are polluting our environment directly.
What will you do with the letter I sent to the brands?
The letters will be sent to the brands. If a lot of you are sending a letter to the brands, it will be clear that people care about microplastics in their products and want the brands to take them out. So, the more letters they receive the better.
Has there been political activity seeking to put a ban on microplastic ingredients?
In 2017, the European Commission (EC) requested the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to formulate a proposal for a restriction on ‘intentionally added microplastics’ in products such as cosmetics, detergents, and agricultural products. ECHA presented their final opinion to the EC in February 2021, together with the opinions of its scientific committees. The adoption of this restriction is now foreseen by the end of 2022. Will the EU ban solve the problem? Although this restriction would be the first of its kind and will initiate similar conversations worldwide, it is not free of limitations. Not all synthetic polymers are included in this proposed definition of microplastics, only solid microplastics have been included. Decisions at this stage are crucial in determining whether Europe’s future will be truly microplastic-free or not. At this stage, the proposal has loopholes that can jeopardise the integrity of the effectiveness of this restriction. That’s why we call upon the European Commission to include all plastic ingredients, including nanoplastics, semi-solid, soluble, liquid and “biodegradable” microplastics. 
Are manufacturers phasing out microplastic ingredients from cosmetics?
If a restriction on intentionally added microplastics would be in place, the cosmetics industry would get four years to remove microplastics from ‘rinse-off’ products and six years to remove them from ‘leave-on’ products. However, the definition of microplastics used in the restriction proposal by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) is only limited to solid particles. Most plastics used in cosmetics are liquid, soluble and “biodegradable” plastics, according to German research up to 25 times more. As these plastics have not been included in the microplastic definition by ECHA, they will escape this restriction.
How will you put more pressure on the brands?
We are in touch with the different head offices of the producers who are own the brands. We ask the brands to take responsibility and remove all plastics from their products. With your help, we can show them that many people care about this.
How do I dispose products that I already have at home which contain microplastics?
Unfortunately, there is no 'correct' way to dispose of products containing microplastic ingredients. We always recommend two options: the first is to send the product back to the manufacturer and describe why you decided not to use it and that you will stop buying this product as long as it includes microplastics; the second option would be to dispose of your products in the regular house-trash. Please note that it will be taken to a landfill or will be incinerated, neither of which are environmentally friendly options.  
Check out our ZERO products lists to see which products are free of microplastics!