The promise of deep cleansing that gently and thoroughly removes skin impurities is what encourages us to purchase beauty products that contain microbeads. We buy into this simple exfoliating solution as it’s more affordable than spending big bucks for a skin treatment at a derm clinic or spa. All we need to do, the packaging instructions and marketers tell us, is lather away and we will feel those microbeads working – pores will become unclogged and our skin will be more supple and well-hydrated. It’s good for our skin, the company promises.
Well, think again.
These microbeads are solid, manufactured plastic particles that don’t dissolve or degrade in water and are so small – around 1-5mm in size (or in some products, even smaller). A single shower featuring the use of personal products containing microbeads such as facial wash, body gel or tubes of toothpaste is equivalent to flushing out 100,000 plastic particles into the ocean which is then released into the waterways and oceans, is ingested by marine life and makes its way into our food system.
Who knew, right? Who knew that these miniscule beads that perform wonders for our skin and teeth would pose such a grave threat to the environment?
Related Post: 5 Beauty Brands Tackling the Industry’s Plastic Problem
It was decades after the microbead was created before anyone really knew their harmful environmental effects, and by the time we learned, trillions of these tiny particles had been released into the environment.
To this day, there are many consumers who still have no idea that this ingredient is a huge factor in plastic pollution. Microbeads are arguably worse than single-use plastics such as bottles and bags since these small particles are so tiny they can’t be filtered our and are almost impossible to remove from the water which means they continue to build and accumulate in our oceans. The only real option consumers have to stop this microplastic pollution madness is to stop purchasing body scrubs, lotions and products that contains microbeads all together.
What consumers can do about microbeads
For starters, if you are uncertain whether the beauty products you use have microbeads in them, check the label and avoid brands and products with these ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon (PA).
Here are some popular products that use microbeads that you should avoid:
- Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub
- Aveeno Active Naturals Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser
- Clean & Clear Advantage 3-in 1 Exfoliating Cleanser
- Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub — Oil Free
- Clearasil Reckit Benckiser Daily Clear — Refreshing Superfruit Scrub
- Clinque EstÃ©e Lauder Companies 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula
- Clinque EstÃ©e Lauder Companies Exfoliating Scrub
- Dermalogica Clear Start — Blackhead Clearing Pore Control Scrub
- Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective — Skin Brightening Exfoliator
- Olay Treatment
- Olay Moisturizer
- Up & Up (Target Brand) Exfoliating Body Wash — Pomegranate Seeds
- Up & Up (Target Brand) Blackhead Facial Scrub with Salicylic Acid
- Victoria’s Secret 2-in-1 Wash and Scrub
- Walgreens Blackhead Clearing Scrub
Of course these are just examples of the countless personal care, beauty, cosmetics and toothpaste products that contain microbeads. Visit this website to conduct a thorough product search and learn which products to avoid buying.
What governments and organizations are doing about microbeads
According to the United Nations, there are over 50 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean; 500 times more than the stars in our galaxy! Meanwhile, Europe alone floods our ocean with around 80,000 to 219,000 tonnes of microplastic every year!
The Plastic Soup Foundation, whose sole mission is to remove plastic waste in our oceans, started a campaign in 2012 called Beat the Microbead. Since the start of this campaign, 15 countries have already taken steps to ban microbeads; the Netherlands becoming the first country to ban cosmetic microbeads in 2014.
Related Post: 10 Ways to Avoid Single-Use Plastic When Out and About
Here is the list of countries that have already banned microbeads: Canada, USA, Sweden, France, UK, Scotland, Netherlands, Wales, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland and Australia.
Here is a list of countries that are about to ban the use of microbeads: Italy and India.
Here is the list of countries that have submitted a proposal to ban microbeads: Finland and South Africa.
We don’t really need these synthetic abrasive beads for scrubbing. There are tons of products that include eco-friendly microbead alternatives made from natural ingredients such as salt, sugar, oats and coffee grounds. These exfoliating agents are effective and have tons of health benefits that will work wonders for your skin.
- Educational Docos and Short Films About Plastic Pollution and Living Plastic-Free
- 13 Natural Skincare and Eco Beauty Brands from New Zealand
- 16 Eco-Stylish Reusable Bags, Water Bottles, Coffee Cups and Other Zero Waste Essentials
- Where to Shop Online For Sustainable, Plastic-Free and Zero Waste Products in Australia
- Individuals in the Developed World Consume More of the Earth’s Resources. Here’s How to Consume Less…
- Travelling Zero Waste: Travel Tips From the Zero Waste Experts
- Recycling Is Not Enough. Zero-Packaging Stores Show We Can Kick Our Plastic Addiction
Feature image via The Science Explorer.