What are they for?
Polymers can be either natural or synthetic. Natural polymers are critical to all life. These large molecules include things like DNA and starch and are formed by long chains of identical repeating links of smaller molecules. Synthetic polymers mimic those in nature, acting like building blocks that can be stuck together to form new shapes that create ingredients with a wide range of characteristics.
Both natural and synthetic polymers are used in personal care products. Some are used to add a soft, silky feel to cosmetics or loose powders, to help products like sunscreen adhere to the skin, to improve the texture of rinse-off products like soap and shampoo, or in anti-aging products to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Most synthetic polymers take the form of liquids, waxes or gels – not all polymers are plastic. Other plastic particles, commonly refered to as “microplastics,” are either the result of larger plastics breaking down in the environment or created for a specific purpose, such as for exfoliation in skin care products. We proactively removed these microplastic exfoliants globally as of 2017.
Where do we stand?
It is very important to note that not all polymers are plastic. In fact, both natural and synthetic polymers can have safe environmental profiles. Non-plastic polymers are versatile ingredients that greatly improve your experiences with many food, pharmaceutical, and personal care products. We support use of non-plastic natural and synthetic polymers and believe they must be assessed individually to avoid miscategorizing environmentally safe ingredients as pollutants.
Our Safety & Care Commitment means we continually evolve our policies and products to reflect not only the latest science and new regulations, but also to address consumer preferences in a way that is supported by science.
We recognize and share concerns you may have about plastic and microplastic ingredients in the environment. We are in the process of evaluating the environmental safety of all our polymeric ingredients and have developed recommendations based on sound science. We are actively working with trade associations to support scientifically based policy definitions and decision-making about this category of ingredients.
What do we NOT use?
Our goal is to give you peace of mind that our products are both gentle for your personal use and for the environment. With that in mind, we led the personal care industry in voluntarily committing to remove plastic microbeads from our products globally in 2013. We supported the US Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 that banned plastic microbeads and, in 2017, we completed our global reformulation as promised.
Further, we have prohibited the use of several other plastic ingredients in new product development: PTFE, PMMA, Nylon-12 (and other nylon ingredients), Polyurethane, Polyethylene, Oxidized polyethylene, Polyethylene oxide, Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polypropylene, Polypropylene terephthalate, and Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer.
We have a few remaining legacy products that contain PTFE, PMMA, Nylon-12 and Polyurethane, and are actively developing replacements that meet our high standards for human and environmental health.