Microplastic-free cosmetics: discover our formulation suggestions

Microplastics are often barely visible to the naked eye, but have still become a worldwide problem. The non-biodegradable fragments enter waste water and ultimately reach the sea. Here, they are swallowed by fish and shellfish, thus entering the food chain. For this reason, cosmetics manufacturers are increasingly switching to microplastic-free formulations. The Zero Waste collection from BTC Europe is showing the way forward.


Up to now, polymers and microplastics have played a significant role in the cosmetics industry. Microbeads are the most famous example – these are small, firm plastic beads used in exfoliating or cleaning products. But microplastics are damaging the environment. As a result, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has recommended a range of restrictions in the EU. However, the legal situation is still unclear: it has not yet been specified what is to be prohibited and in which form.

“The cosmetics industry is therefore making an effort to develop environmentally friendly alternatives,” reports Josefine Schröder, Senior Technical Expert Personal Care at BTC Europe. Many companies have already made voluntary commitments in this area.

The focus is on finding appropriate, environmentally friendly products in each individual case, which meet the requirements of the respective product regarding effectiveness and product stability. In the example of plastic-free exfoliation products, various different paths are being trodden: biodegradable exfoliating particles based on wax are available, while apricot kernels, olive stones and coffee beans also have the desired abrasive effect.

The Zero Waste collection: microplastic-free cosmetics

The Zero Waste collection from BTC contains various formulations as an alternative to microplastics. It consists of 45 versatile ingredients produced by BASF, using which the personal care experts have already developed 14 innovative formulation suggestions for creams, shampoos and other cosmetic products.

Read on to find out more about our formulation ideas for microplastic-free cosmetics:

  • Lavender Shampoo Concentrate: The solid shampoo contains the polymer Dehyquart® Guar HP, a cationic conditioning agent that significantly improves wet and dry combing properties.
  • Kiwi Peeling Stick: Thanks to the biodegradable white wax beads Cegesoft® Peel, the green stick ensures mild and gentle exfoliation. It is combined with Rheocare® XGN. This versatile xanthan gum, a naturally occurring polysaccharide, is COSMOS-compliant and vegan, as well as being easy to process.
  • Moroccan Oil Lotion DIY: This DIY cream contains Eumulgin® VL 75 and Emulgade® PL 68/50 as natural emulsifiers, which are suitable for various O/W applications. It also contains Cegesoft® HF 62 and Lanette® O to give it the requisite consistency.
  • Pimp my Papaya Cream plus three boosters – Touch of Sun Boost A, Rejuvenation Boost B and Refresh Boost C: Emulgade® PL 68/50 is also an ideal emulsifier for this COSMOS-compliant basic cream. In order to enhance its effect, BTC’s Zero Waste collection contains a selection of three boosters that consumers can use depending on their needs. Like the cream itself, all three contain the natural polysaccharide Rheocare® XGN as an alternative to environmentally damaging microplastics.

Alongside the products listed above, the Zero Waste collection contains a whole host of other microplastic-free product ideas. Our BTC experts will be happy to advise you. The contact information of your local BTC contact is available in the Solution Finder and further information can be found on BASF’s Care Creation platform.

Our Expert

Josefine Schröder has been working in the area of cosmetics, detergents and cleaning products for 23 years. In this time, she has gathered experience in a number of different fields, including research and development, analytics and marketing.

Her career began in 1998, when she took her diploma thesis at Henkel. Following this, the qualified chemist joined the newly founded company Cognis, which was later taken over by BASF. Since switching to BTC Europe around eight years ago, she has been responsible for cosmetics throughout the whole of Europe as a Senior Technical Expert. 

Schröder is fascinated by “the work with and at customers all over Europe, different cultures, ways of thinking, requirements and markets”. She loves the variety that her career offers her, and “of course, working in a fantastic team”. 

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