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Sun Care products review: Another year has passed…

For the 3rd year in a row, we are here to review the use of microplastics in Sun Care products. Long story short, nothing has changed. The cosmetic industry has continued adding microplastics to the cosmetic and personal care products we consume all the time.  

The use of microplastics in Sun Care appears to be even more extreme the larger our sample becomes. This year, thanks to the users of the Beat the Microbead app, we analysed an extra 605 unique Sun Care products, bringing our grand total to 2.647. Unfortunately, we found that the percentage of products containing microplastic, sceptical microplastics, or both has now climbed to 87%. Sun care products with microplastics amounted to 83% of our sample in 2021 and 72% in 2020 

Our dataset includes sunscreens, tanning oils, face creams with high SPF, after-sun, and similar products. Especially during the sunnier months of the year, these are all part of our daily routine. In our attempt to protect ourselves against overexposure to the UV sunlight, though, our loved ones and we come in contact with potentially harmful and polluting microplastics.  

A closer look into our findings 

Our sample includes some of the most famous cosmetics brands worldwide as well as a few specific to the Netherlands, where most of our operations are based. The most prevailing ones include: 

  • Nivea 
  • Garnier 
  • Kruidvat 
  • Etos 
  • Hema 
  • Sundance (dm) 
  • La Roche-Posay  
  • Bioderma
  • Cien (Lidl) 
  • Eucerin 
  • Australian Gold 
  • Biodermal 
  • Hawaiian Tropic 
  • Vichy 
  • Avène 


Similarly, these are the 10 most popular individual products recorded in our database: 

  1. Cien (Lidl), Sun Transparentes Sonnenspray LSF30 250 ml 
  2. De Tuinen, Sunscream Face SPF30 100 ml (microplastic-free)
  3. Garnier Ambre Solaire, Milk Sunscreen SPF30 200 ml 
  4. Cien (Lidl), Anti-Age Crema Solare SPF30 75 ml 
  5. Drs Leenarts, Suncare Spray SPF50 200 ml 
  6. De Tuinen, Spray Solaire SPF50 150 ml 
  7. Cien (Lidl), Love Your Planet Sun Lotion SPF50 150 ml (microplastic-free) 
  8. Zenova, Kids Sun Milk SPF50 Sensitive 200 ml 
  9. De Tuinen, Spray Solaire SPF30 150 ml (microplastic-free) 
  10. Dr. Jetske Ultee, Suncover SPF30 250 ml (microplastic-free) 

The majority of these Sun Care products contain microplastics such as: 

  • Carbomer 
  • Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer 
  • Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer 
  • Acrylates Copolymer 
  • Sodium Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer 

Lastly, one can find below the 5 most used ‘skeptical microplastics’. These constitute synthetic polymers for which definitive information regarding their toxicity, persistency, and biodegradability is not available yet.  

  • VP/Hexadecene Copolymer 
  • Triacontanyl PVP 
  • PEG-100 Stearate 
  • Cyclopentasiloxane  
  • Hydrogenated Polyisobutene 

Microplastic-free alternatives 

To help you find microplastic-free alternatives, we have created our ‘Zero Plastic Inside’ certification logo. Only the brands and companies whose whole range of products is free of harmful microplastic ingredients can carry the ‘Zero Plastic Inside’ mark. This makes it a lot easier for consumers to make environmentally conscious decisions on the spot. Here are some examples of companies which offer 100% microplastic-free Sun Care products:

For more ‘Zero Plastic Inside’ options, make sure you visit our Search Engine.  

Scan before you buy! 

We understand that certified products might not always be available to buy. Especially during our Summer vacations, we might find ourselves in a store far from home having to choose among very few alternatives.  

That’s why we created the Beat the Microbead app. With this app, you can test for yourself whether the sunscreen or any other cosmetic and personal care product you are about to buy contains microplastics and how many.  

It’s free and extremely easy to use. Simply point your camera towards the part of the package where the ingredients are listed, and the app will immediately warn you about any microplastics found. A few extra steps will allow you to register the targeted product with us for further research and help us create an analysis like this.  


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