Microbeads, or plastic particles less than five millimeters in their largest dimension, have long been known to enter our food chains and end up in our stomachs.
They are commonly found in exfoliating products such as facial scrubs, but the latest studies show that they are present in eyeshadows, lipsticks and other cosmetic products, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The micro beads in these products are even smaller and harder to remove than those found in exfoliating products.
Most consumer brands, along with their retailers, have yet to pledge to stop the manufacture and sale of products with microbeads.
Environmental protection group Greenpeace recently deployed 40 volunteers to investigate products sold by five retailers in the city, such as Sasa, Bonjour and Colourmix, according to news website hk01.com.
Of the 1,413 products they tested, 219 were found to contain microbeads.
Of the 219 items, 37 were rinse-off products such as facial wash while 182 were leave-on products like sunscreens and lotions.
Almost half of the products tested had no clear indications of their ingredients in Chinese or English, but only in Japanese and Korean which most consumers would not understand, let alone prompt them to avoid buying.
Greenpeace senior campaigner Kate Lin Pui-yee said a common misconception is that only exfoliating or cleaning products have microbeads, but the situation is even worse when it comes to other cosmetics.
According to medical studies, microbeads smaller than 100 nanometers can be absorbed by the skin, affecting our bodies in a more direct way, Lin said.
She urged manufacturers and retailers to stop making and selling products with microbeads to protect the health of consumers and the seas.
– Contact us at [email protected]