As beauty consumers I like to think we have all become smarter in our shopping habits, gone are the days in which we blindly purchase products; the majority of us will ponder over ingredients and reviews before making an informed discussion. Yet one rather toxic ingredient we are guilty of skimming over is microbeads. Those tiny beads often found in facial scrubs or used to contain oil whatever their intended purpose may be, they are dangerous to the environment and completely unnecessary.
The minuscule and often colourful beads of plastic are not biodegradable - meaning they will never dissolve and disappear, rather they are washed away down the drain and go straight into the sewer system. The problem is that water treatment plants have not been designed to filter out the pesky beads and as a result they end up polluting the sea. Rather disturbingly the beads may be absorbing toxins (research is currently ongoing) along the way and then being consumed by sea life. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you eat fish, there is a good chance that somewhere along the line we have also consumed the plastic substance unwillingly.
As the plastic beads are a dated and often useless method of exfoliation, there is no real need for them to be present within products - especially given all the other options of skin and body scrubs within the market. Admittedly in the past I have used products containing microbeads, now my eyes have been opened to the environmental damage I will not purchase or review another product containing beads of the sort. On the upside many of the big brands (and by default offenders) have vowed to phase out microbeads by 2017- a long way off but a step in the right direction. Within the US various States will be introducing a ban on microbeads, no doubt the UK will be next to follow such example.
Until then I say we avoid them at all costs and look for more effective and environmentally sound options to exfoliate. For the body we have salt, sugar and apricot kernels - all of which I can fully recommend. For the face (this is a great article on facial exfoliation - link) there is endless possibilities such as AHA's, Rice Powder, Oatmeal and chemical exfoliation.
If you are confused as to which products contain microbeads this is a wonderful app by Beat the Microbead - link, it allows you to search products by such ingredient minimising guess work as some beads (Jojoba beads) are not harmful. It also lists what companies plan on ditching the bead full stop.
To paraphrase TLC I don't want no scrub...beads.
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