Another revolutionary change in cosmetic law is ahead of us, which we have been waiting for for a long time. This is about the famous topic of microplastics and the ban on their use in cosmetics. This change is introduced by Commission Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 of 25 September 2023 amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards synthetic polymer microparticles.

Problematic microplastics

Let’s start with what microplastics actually are. As defined by ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) „synthetic polymer microparticles are polymers that are solid and which fulfil both of the following conditions:

(a) are contained in particles and constitute at least 1% by weight of those particles; or build a continuous surface coating on particles;

(b) at least 1% by weight of the par­ ticles referred to in point (a) fulfil either of the following conditions:

  • all dimensions of the particles are equal to or less than 5 mm;
  • the length of the particles is equal to or less than 15 mm and their length to diameter ratio is greater than 3.”

Where does the problem with microplastics come from? First of all, these are issues related to their impact on the environment and human health. For years, much has been said about the enormous pollution of the oceans with microplastics. The problem is that microplastics decompose very slowly and can easily enter the digestive system of living organisms. Due to their ubiquitous use, these polymers are common in the environment and have also been detected in drinking water and food. Therefore, appropriate steps have been taken to limit the use of these substances in industry, including the cosmetics industry.


It is worth adding that some polymers have been excluded from the above definition of microplastics. These are:

  • natural polymers – i.e. that are the result of a natural polymerisation process, independently of the process through which they have been extracted, which are not chemically modified substances;
  • polymers that are degradable;
  • polymers that have a solubility greater than 2 g/L;
  • polymers that do not contain carbon atoms in their chemical structure.

What will change?

Under the new law, microplastics cannot be placed on the market as substances on their own or in mixtures in concentrations ≥0.01% by weight. In practice, for the cosmetics industry, this means a ban on the use of synthetic polymer microparticles:

• intended for use as an abrasive material, i.e. for exfoliation (peelings) – on the date of entry into force of the regulation, i.e. 17th of October 2023,

• in rinse-off products – from 17.10.2027,

• for encapsulating fragrances – from 17.10.2029,

• in leave-on products except makeup, lip and nail products – from 17.10.2029,

• in makeup, lip and nail products – from 17.10.2035.

Additionally, in the case of make-up, lip and nail cosmetics, it will be necessary to use the following marking on the labels: “this product contains microplastics“. This marking will be used from 17.10.2031 to 16.10.2035.

From October 17, 2025, products containing, among others: film-forming ingredients will have to be provided with instructions of use and how to dispose the product (in the form of text or pictogram).


We are undoubtedly facing a total turnaround in the cosmetics industry. The ban on the use of microplastics will pose a major challenge for both raw material and cosmetics producers. A huge part of cosmetic ingredients, including emulsifiers and film-forming substances, fall under the new definition of microplastics. The color cosmetics industry faces a particularly difficult test. It will be difficult to develop new replacements for polymers that have been used in this segment for years and then completely reformulate all makeup products, lipsticks and nail polishes.

It is also worth emphasizing that the cosmetics industry will probably not have a complete list of banned microplastics with INCI names. Such a list would certainly make the work of everyone easier: raw material suppliers, people from R&D departments and safety assessors. Therefore, there will be no other option but to rely on reliable documentation from suppliers of cosmetic raw materials in order to classify a given substance into the – quite complicated – definition of microplastics.

The full text of the new regulation can be found here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32023R2055

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