Understanding your cosmetics

What should I know about microplastics?


Microplastics are man-made, very small particles made up of polymers that are insoluble and resist degradation. Polymers are a group of large chemicals made of repeating building blocks of smaller units which gives them a chain-like structure. All microplastics are polymers but not all polymers are microplastics.

Polymers play an essential role in many cosmetic products. For example, solid, man-made polymers bind together the ingredients in toothpaste to make it easy to use to protect our teeth and gum health. Also, solid polymers boost the effectiveness of certain UV filters in sunscreens making the product non-greasy and easy to spread to cover our skin evenly.

Each individual ingredient in the polymer family has a different name. This means that you will not find, the word “microplastic” or “polymer” in the ingredient list of a cosmetics or personal care product.

Microplastics, in particular, are not biodegradable which means they do not break down in the environment.  There is concern that due to their persistent nature, environmental concentration of microplastics may increase in the future.

It is important to note that intentionally added microplastics from cosmetics and personal care products represent an extremely small contribution to overall microplastics emissions.
Under the EU chemicals regulation, intentionally added microplastics in many types of products are being currently phased out, which also applies to their use in cosmetics.

Find out more here about how cosmetics are kept safe in Europe


Cosmetics matter to people and play an important role in our everyday life. On average European consumers use over seven different cosmetics daily. You too? It’s only natural that you want to know more about the ingredients in those products.

In the digital world we live in, there’s a deluge of information on cosmetics. However, it can be difficult to know which sources are reliable. COSMILE Europe is a European cosmetic ingredient database that offers reliable, verified and scientifically supported information on almost 30,000 ingredients used in cosmetics.

This database will help you understand why certain ingredients are in your cosmetic products; which properties they have and much more. The database is currently available in fourteen languages with more to come.

Search the Database

Why our information is reliable

All information in COSMILE Europe comes from verified sources and is based on independent expert knowledge.

The list of ingredients and what they do comes from the European Commission’s CosIng database, an official source of information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Learn more by clicking here.

More detailed information on ingredient properties, whether they are man-made and/or of natural origin, in which types of products the ingredients can be found, etc… comes from independent experts and scientific assessments published by European and national expert bodies.