Beware of microbeads in your skincare products

Did you know that some skincare products contain tiny little plastic pieces? Microbeads, which are generally used in exfoliants are causing more harm than good. It’s time to ditch your normal exfoliants if it’s a poorly designed skin care product that’s harmful to the environment.

What are microbeads?

Microbeads are incredibly small balls of plastic, usually composed of polyethylene, polypropylene or nylon and ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 millimetres. They’re used in facial cleansers and scrubs to create a grainy texture that is ideal for exfoliation of the skin. Despite skincare companies promoting these products as healthy for your complexion, they’re anything but healthy for the environment.

How do microbeads cause environmental damage?

When you use a facial product with microbeads, these beads are flushed down your bathroom drain. Even though these beads are broken down into extremely tiny pieces, they become virtually impossible to be filtered out by sewage systems, meaning they enter oceans and rivers. When broken down microbeads reach water systems like rivers and lakes, they absorb toxins, such as pesticides and other chemicals. Just one microbead can be thousands of times more toxic than the surrounding water. As they appear to look like fish eggs, microbeads are consumed by marine life, such as oysters. If these marine animals are then consumed by humans as food, the toxic microbeads are consumed too. While microbeads have been banned from use in personal hygiene products in the US, the ban does not begin until 2017, therefore, microbead pollution is still a huge environmental problem. According to reports in the U.S, microbeads, along with increasing carbon levels have resulted in the Pacific Ocean becoming too acidic for millions of oysters. Not only is this damaging for the oyster population, it’s harming the shellfish industry too.

Why do people use microbeads?

Many consumers are unaware that the products they are using contain plastic microbeads and the plastics used to manufacture microbeads. Many don’t realise that the products they’re using contribute to environmental damage.

Why can’t bio-degradable plastic be used?

Plastic microbeads used in beauty products are manufactured to be washed down the drain. Thus, they won’t break down like bio-degradable plastics. To manufacture biodegradable plastics, an industrial sized composting facility is required, in order for the plastic to be heated to a high temperature so it can break down.

Why aren’t natural methods used in products?

Plastic is cheap to use and very easy to acquire. However, a lot of beauty companies are already removing microbeads from their products, while other brands like griffin+row offer natural alternatives to exfoliating scrubs. The griffin+row natural exfoliant cloth is an organic muslin cloth that provides gentle exfoliation without harming the environment.