Microbeads: Why Shouldn't You Use Them?

In the last few years, the topic of microbeads and their use in beauty products has been at the forefront of media attention.

In the last few years, the topic of microbeads and their use in beauty products has been at the forefront of media attention.

But what's all the fuss, and why are beauty insiders encouraging people to avoid buying products that contain microbeads?


What are microbeads & where can I find them?

 

The microbeads in exfoliators are tiny balls made of plastic, designed to physically buff the skin to remove dead skin cells. Microbeads are also found in products other than scrubs, including personal care items such as toothpaste.

Microbeads were initially alternatives to natural scrubbing ingredients such as salt, sugar or walnut pieces, as plastic microbeads could be designed to be smoother and spherical, with no harsh edges to scratch the skin.

However, many brands are now moving to replace microbeads with natural alternatives. Keep an eye out for ingredients such as 'Polyethylene,' 'Polypropylene,' and 'Polystyrene,' as these are indicators of microbeads in the ingredients of the scrub you're considering.

 

Woman using non-microbead scrub

 

What is the real harm of microbeads?

 

Microbeads are made of plastic, so they do not break down quickly. After using a personal care product that contains microbeads, there is no way to stop the tiny plastic beads from going down the drain and eventually making their way into the ocean. Sea creatures can be effectively poisoned by microbeads, as not only do microbeads not break down, they can be ingested and cause health problems.


Studies have found that a single tube of product that contains microbeads can wash anywhere from approximately five thousand, to one-hundred thousand microbeads into the eco-system.

 

Great barrier reef and microbeads

 

What action is being taken about microbeads?


After action from Denmark & the United Nations to educate consumers on the harms of microbeads, the American Food and Drug Authority have classified plastic microbeads as a toxic ingredient and have prohibited its use in cosmetics and beauty products. Canada has followed suit, listing microbeads as a toxic substance.

More locally in Australia, major supermarket chains including Woolworths, Coles and Aldi are phasing out products that contain microbeads from sale.

 

We recommend that you choose any one of our many non-microbead scrubs, and join us in actively choosing more environmentally conscious products.

 

Microbeads: Why Shouldn't You Use Them?