A process allegedly good for your body, in which dead skin is cleared away, leaving only new skin cells to make your face healthier and fresher. But how is exfoliation achieved? Many products use microbeads, tiny plastic beads that create small amounts of friction against the skin to cause exfoliation. But exfoliating products aren’t the only ones with microbeads; you can find these tiny pieces of plastic in shampoo, body wash, and even toothpaste.
Microbeads may be good for our skin, but they have been wreaking havoc on ocean ecosystems for decades. Since microbeads are used in wash products, they immediately go down the drain and get dumped in natural waterways, eventually leading to the ocean. These microbeads add to the plastic pollution in the ocean, which has already created enormous problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But what’s unique about these microbeads is they’re small enough for fish and other marine organisms to eat them even without knowing. Plastic is a toxin that magnifies in concentration as you go up the food chain, so if a fish eats plastic and then the fish gets eaten by a shark, the shark’s tissues will have even more toxin concentration in them. And when we eat fish that have consumed plastic, these toxins magnify even more in us, affecting human health.
In December 2015, a bill passed the U.S. Congress and was signed into law by President Obama banning microbeads. The bill, H.R. 1321, bans all manufacturing of microbead products by July 1, 2017, and fully bans sale of all products by January 1, 2018. This is a huge victory for marine ecosystems and our planet.
So even though microbeads will be banned within the next two years, there’s still a lot that we as consumers can do now to say no to microbeads and protect the oceans. As of this moment, microbead products are still on the shelves, so we can stop buying these products and use ones that are safer instead. Here is a list of common brands with microbeads and some better alternatives:
Johnson & Johnson – Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena
Estee Lauder – Clinique
Procter & Gamble – Olay
Estee Lauder – Aveda, Origins
L’Occitane en Provence
Neal’s Yard Remedies
L’Oreal – The Body Shop, Kiehl
Crabtree & Evelyn
All Natural Soap Co.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
For a full list of products with microbeads, click here, and for a list of Crest brands of toothpaste that contain microbeads, click here. For a full list of better alternatives, click here. If you use a product and you’re not sure if it contains microbeads or not, look for “polyethylene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredients list. There are many more products without microbeads than products with microbeads, so it’s easy to make the switch!
Nemo thanks you!
*Featured image from: http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/images/MICROBEADS_photo_150727.jpg