Since March 2023, all products by Cosnova’s brands essence and Catrice are completely free of microplastic particles . This is a result of a decision dating back to 2020, when the German beauty player decided to remove microplastic particles from all its ranges of cosmetic products.
According to the Sulzbach-headquartered company, each year in Germany, 977 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment through wastewater from washing off cosmetics and cleaning products. However, cosmetics only account for a small part of microplastics that area released in the environment (between 0.1 and 4 percent of the total): for instance, the highest proportion of microplastic particles in Germany is caused by tyre wear.
“Even decorative cosmetics contribute to water pollution with microplastic particles. I am very proud that we have now succeeded in permanently removing the particles from the products of our brands," says Katrin Steinbach, Technical Unit Expert Corporate Responsibility at Cosnova.
To curb the enormous impact of these tiny, solid insoluble and non-biodegradable plastic particles, Cosnova began updating its formulas in 2020. However, switching to microplastic particle-free formulas with the same quality is not easy. Indeed, microplastic particles have been very popular in the cosmetics industry for a long time. They can be used in a variety of ways to achieve different effects: for example, they can mattify, give the skin a soft feel or make the product last longer on the skin.
"Microplastics cannot be replaced one-to-one, nor can they be removed retrospectively. We had to completely renew our formulas to make them work without the plastic particles. Together with project partners and our own project team, we went through every single product and tested alternative ingredients, especially natural substances such as corn or rice starch. But it was worth the effort," says Katrin Steinbach.
No more volatile silicones as of 2025
However, Cosnova is not stopping at the elimination of microplastic particles and is also working on formulas that are free of volatile silicones.
“The spectrum of silicones and their applications is very broad, as is their health and environmental relevance. Like microplastics, these synthetic plastics enter the environment via wastewater, where they are difficult to break down,” says the German group.
Cosnova therefore aims to completely eliminate volatile silicones from its formulas by 2025.