Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are found in many household and toiletries products. They’re especially prevalent in anything that’s used as an ‘exfoliator’ e.g body scrubs/polishes, facial exfoliators, and even products like whitening toothpaste use them to polish teeth. They’ve been used for decades around the world, but now it’s becoming very clear that they’re posing a huge threat to the marine environment and wildlife. The reason is that all of these plastic microbeads are building up in our rivers and oceans. They’re even re-entering our food chain via fish and seafood who have swallowed them. A recent report estimated that a plate of six oysters served in a popular city restaurant can contain as many as 50 pieces of these tiny plastic microbeads!
Some countries have already banned microbeads. Sadly, the UK is still dragging its feet over this issue with a ban expected to come into place only in the Summer of 2018. We can lobby our MPs for important policy changes to make companies stop using them in their products. You can also be proactive and voice our opinion with our wallets by choosing not to buy anything that contains these polluting pieces of plastic. Look out for ingredients such as polyethylene, polymethylmethacrylate, and polypropylene which are the common chemical names for plastic, as well as PET, PMMA and PTFE.
FOUR SUGGESTIONS TO GET STARTED
Thankfully, the natural, organic and green beauty world makes it incredibly easy to find exfoliators that are free from microbeads. There is a huge variety of eco-friendly brands producing alternatives which are just as effective, but also kind to our planet. Here are just four suggestions to get you started!
(1) Weleda Birch Body Scrub
Weleda are one of my favourite natural beauty brands. I always have a selection of their products in my bathroom. Their Birch Body Scrub is a fantastic weekly pampering treat that contains plant-based ingredients. It uses natural wax pearls made from Carnauba and Beeswax to gently exfoliate the body. It smells amazing too – really lovely and uplifting with essential oils of Grapefruit and Cypress. The body scrub also contains Apricot Kernel Oil to keep the skin supple and soft. I love using this first thing on a Monday morning to help me wake up and feel revitalised for the new week ahead!
For a gentle facial exfoliator, Antipodes do a brilliant one called the Reincarnation Pure Facial Exfoliator. I think this is a genius name for it because it always leaves my skin feeling like it’s brand new whenever I use it. This exfoliator uses tiny round natural beads made from Jojoba to gently but effectively remove dull dead skin cells. It leaves the complexion feeling much smoother and looking brighter and clearer overall. It is suitable for most skin types and a great eco-friendly product to have in your skincare routine.
If you’re after a truly luxurious pampering body scrub, look no further than Odylique’s Coconut Candy Body Scrub. Composed of an all-natural, 98.8% organic based formula, it’s packed full of nourishing ingredients such as Cocoa Bean Butter and Virgin Coconut Oil. It also contains Poppy Seeds as the exfoliating element. These tiny seeds do an amazing job and this scrub leaves my skin as soft as a baby’s bum! If you love coconut scents as much as I do, you will simply adore this!
Whilst I love a good old scrub, I do enjoy using non-manual exfoliators as well! Sometimes these are better suited for those who have very sensitive or acne prone skin. So I wanted to include one of my favourite, non-manual exfoliating face masks as one of the suggestions in this post for anyone who is curious about these products. Bee Good’s NectaPerfecta Beautifying Mask doesn’t contain any ‘scrubby bits’. Instead it uses a special blend of natural fruit based enzymes which helps to encourage new cell regeneration. It exfoliates the skin at a deeper level (but without ‘scrubbing’ it). The results mean you’re left with younger, healthier looking skin that looks like you’ve had an expensive facial. This mask can also be used as a hydrating balm anywhere on the body. It will instantly moisturise dry areas so it’s a really useful multi-purpose product.
I hope this post has been helpful to those looking for alternatives to microbeads – as you can see, there’s really no need for them when we already have so many natural alternatives on offer!