Couple questions on polymers

I’m just curious about some things...

What exactly are these synthetic polymers made from? For instance Sepimax Zen, Sepinov EMT 10, Acrylates Copolymer, Carbomer, etc...Are they just basically plastic? And if so, do people ever have bad skin reactions from having this stuff on their face all day? What are the long term effects of daily use of “liquid plastic” on the skin? It is something I never really see talked about whenever irritants or safety are brought up, and this class of ingredients doesn’t ever seem to be included on the lists of banned ingredients along with sulfates, PEGS, parabens, and the like...I would think they would be the first ones the natural folks would come after.

I love using them but they’re so easy it scares me...I guess I’m hoping to be told there’s nothing to worry about and I can go on using them carefree...but I can’t stop thinking...what the **** is a Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer any way?

Comments

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Yes, it's pretty much water soluble plastic.
    The free, unreacted monomers, acrylic acid derivatives, are highly reactive, toxic, carcinogenic, and allergenic (and are obviously 100% petrochemicals). I also wonder why they're not on the 'bad guys' list alongside PEG, sulfate surfactants, and parabens.
    Because they are inert polymers (like PEGs), they pose no health concern to human sink and are safe to use.
    Unlike insoluble plastics, they do degrade in nature.
  • jemolianjemolian Member
    Normally people formulating natural / natural derived ingredients don't really come after synthetic polymers, i guess they don't really think about it other than the synthetic status? 

    If there are people coming after the plastics, it would be the people interested in the reduction of microplastics. https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/
  • IlsmeIlsme Member
    In Germany they are the next bad thing, thanks to environmentalists. Many cosmetic companies already have logos "free from microplastic" and so so many people put all polymers under "microplastic". 
  • ketchitoketchito Member
    Polymers used as ingredients have a wide array of molecular structures and hence, of biodrgradability. For instance, ethoxylated polymers have many cleavage sites which make them both more water soluble and biodegradable than non ethoxylated. Polyamides and polyesters also have a more biodegradable tendency, same as some new polymers, so I wouldn't treat them all the same way.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Most cosmetic polymers aren't microplastic. Only microbeads and, obviously, packaging are 'hard to digest' for mother nature. The water gelling and swelling polymers aren't considered microplastic.
  • IlsmeIlsme Member
    Pharma said:
    Most cosmetic polymers aren't microplastic. Only microbeads and, obviously, packaging are 'hard to digest' for mother nature. The water gelling and swelling polymers aren't considered microplastic.
    You're absolutely right and I wish people would understand that..
    yet I regulary get E-Mails from customer service and have to assure customers that carbomer is not microplastic. They've read on internet so it must be true that carbomer or everything "-copolymer" belongs to "fluid microplastics" and is very bad for the environment and health. "Natural cosmetics" is a huge trend in Germany and many companies that occure overnight are huge part of this misinformation
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    There are people who specifically don't agree that most cosmetic polymers aren't microplastics. They say they are. https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/get-to-know-microplastics-in-your-cosmetics-2/
  • @Ilsme what do you say to them to convince them that they are not micro plastic? And if they aren't micro plastics....what are they?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Most of the things that NGOs call microplastics are more accurately referred to as degradable / biodegradable polymers. 
  • I'm curious about their biodegradability. Which of them are easily biodegradable? It's usually mentioned in SDS that they are not readily biodegradable, for example:
    Result: Not readily biodegradable. Biodegradation: 7% Exposure time: 28 d

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited May 4
    I'm not sure which polymer you are referring to but Carbomers are degradable according to the company. https://www.lubrizol.com/-/media/Lubrizol/Health/Literature/Bulletin-03---Polymer-Handling-and-Storage.pdf

    Now, there is debate over whether they are bio-degradable. And the data was collected by the company but their reasoning is sound enough for ECHA.
  • I was referring to this polymer and SDS: https://lotioncrafter.com/products/aristoflex-avc?_pos=1&_sid=a068d4635&_ss=r
    I also found this document: https://www.lubrizol.com/-/media/Lubrizol/Health/Literature/Bulletin-02---Toxicology-Studies-and-Regulatory-Information.pdf
    According to the document, it has been found that carbomer is not biodegradable, rather not readily degradable (I don't quite understand this part), but it can be disposed or incinerated in wastewater treatment facility.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    This isn't really my area of expertise but the way I read the Lubrizol toxicology document is this...

    Say, a consumer puts hair gel in their hair. This product has a certain amount of carbomer. When they wash their hair, the carbomer goes down the drain.

    It then ends up in the wastewater treatment plant. There it is removed from the water (through flocculation or adsorption on some surface or something). It is not broken down by bacteria used in water treatment plants but it also doesn't harm them either.  Instead it is incinerated or otherwise disposed with all the other solids / chemicals that are removed from water in this way.

    Basically, the ingredient doesn't make it to water ways and into the ocean.

    At least that's what it seems like it is saying to me. Company is saying there is no concern because it gets removed from the wastewater stream.
  • @Perry that all makes sense to me. But what about absorbing through your skin? If everything else in the product you’re applying is meant to be absorbed for some benefit or another, wouldn’t the polymer also be absorbed? And what are the possible consequences of this synthetic plastic material entering the body and the bloodstream? To me that would be the bigger concern.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @GeorgeBenson - Of all the ingredients used in cosmetics, synthetic polymers (and natural polymers too) are likely the least worrisome in terms of ingredient safety.  Not only have these ingredients gone through extensive safety testing, they are also too big to penetrate into the skin very deeply.

    Companies talk about ingredients being absorbed into the skin but this is mostly marketing shenanigans. The vast majority of ingredients put on your skin do not travel into the skin any further than the stratum corneum (top layer).  And the bigger a molecule is, the less likely it will be to penetrate deeper into the skin.

    There is a principle in the pharmaceutical rule called the 500 Dalton rule. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10839713/  That is if a molecule is larger than 500 Daltons, it will not penetrate the skin significantly and cannot get into the body.  To give you a sense of size, a cross linked carbomer polymer that you might find in a skin lotion is 3-4 Billion Daltons

    Bottom line...no these polymers are not getting into your bloodstream.

    Here's some safety information on Carbomer.
    https://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredients/carbomer/  
  • jemolianjemolian Member
    From what i've seen when comparing the SDS, Sepinov & Sepimax seems to have a higher biodegradability percentage. Is there a particular reason why that could be the case compared to the others? 
    • Sepinov - 93 % - Inherent - 28 days
    • Sepimax - 79 % - Inherent - 28 days
  • @Perry thanks for that info!
  • ketchitoketchito Member
    jemolian said:
    From what i've seen when comparing the SDS, Sepinov & Sepimax seems to have a higher biodegradability percentage. Is there a particular reason why that could be the case compared to the others? 
    • Sepinov - 93 % - Inherent - 28 days
    • Sepimax - 79 % - Inherent - 28 days
    Not reviewing that data, I could tell you that since all polymers are not equal, you could actually expect  different biodegradability profiles. Carbomers are hyglhy crosslinked polyacrylates, which make them less biodegradable (without this necessarily mean they are unsafe, as @Perry mentioned). Sepinov for instance is acrylate based, but has more functional groups (cleavage sites) and is not crosslinked.
  • jemolian said:
    From what i've seen when comparing the SDS, Sepinov & Sepimax seems to have a higher biodegradability percentage. Is there a particular reason why that could be the case compared to the others? 
    • Sepinov - 93 % - Inherent - 28 days
    • Sepimax - 79 % - Inherent - 28 days
    I found SDS of Sepinov EMT 10 and Sepimax Zen and both stated that they are not readily biodegradable. 
    https://www.biohope.com.cn/vancheerfile/files/profile/2017072017273994.pdf
    https://www.biohope.com.cn/vancheerfile/files/profile/2017072017270193.pdf
    But here is the information that Sepinov EMT 10 is inherently ultimate biodegradable. What does it mean?
    https://www.seppic.com/sites/seppic/files/2022/02/22/EU07241A-GB.pdf

    @Perry ;Your explanation is much clearer. As for carbomer, the manufacturer seems to have checked the biodegradability issues. When it comes to assessing biodegradability, we have at least the methodology, time frame and value. But when it comes to degradability, it is hard to find the specific conditions and the time it takes for a substance to degrade.
    And I have another question. If the product contains not readily biodegradable ingredients, can it be said that the product is biodegradable? Biodegradability tests of the entire formula are not carried out, because for example product may contain 70% water, therefore tests are performed on individual components. I think about it because it turns out that all the formulas are suddenly "biodegradable".

  • jemolianjemolian Member
    edited May 5
    @grapefruit22 I had copied the info from the MSDS on their ulpropsector page, though on their seppic product page, they do also mention both of them as "Inherently ultimate biodegradable". I believe we can refer to the test spec conducted that was written on the MSDS if that would be accurate on the polymer? 

    @ketchito I see. Thanks for the info on that. 


  • @jemolian, there seem to be differences in determining whether a substance is readily biodegradable or inherently ultimate biodegradable. To determine inherent biodegradability substance-biomass ratio is low and prolonged exposure of the substance to microorganisms are allowed, so the conditions are more favorable, but it actually means that these ingredients are biodegradable.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Of course, with all the research being done in this space, I'm sure there will be a point when technically everything will be considered "biodegradable".  For example, here is a bacteria that eats PET plastic.  Since this is the case, PET bottles can be claimed to be biodegradable. Although unless they are exposed to that particular bacterium, it could take a long time to degrade. 
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @grapefruit22 - "And I have another question. If the product contains not readily biodegradable ingredients, can it be said that the product is biodegradable? "

    This is an interesting legal question for which I don't know the answer. It looks like California (as usual) leads the way and is pretty restrictive. So, consumer companies probably shouldn't make the claim if one of their products will make it on a store shelf in California. 
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