These miniature beads are sure making the news these days! So what are they and what is the issue?
Microbeads are small, plastic little beads included in exfoliating products and in toothpastes. They have been marketed by the major cosmetic product producers are beads that will magically give you younger looking skin (by exfoliating the older skin) or giving you whiter teeth (again by exfoliating the stains). In December 2015, the US passed a bill to prohibit these little beads from being used in personal care products as they are determined to be a pollutant and toxic. One of the issues is that these little beads get rinsed down the sink and enter the sewage. Once there, the water filtration system is unable to filter for these tiny little beads so they end up in the ecosystem. Once it has entered the water systems and ecosystems, it starts to enter the food chain and can re-enter the drinking water supply. Since they are largely made of plastic (polyethylene and often phthalates and bispenol-A), the ingestion of these beads can affect the reproductive chain in many animals (including humans). You can read about phthalates in here.
The beads also attract other substances once in the water includes Polychlorinated biphenyl, which is considered toxic and has been classified as a carcinogen. It also has the ability to disrupt the endocrine system.
One of the main reasons they were used is because they are CHEAP. That is one of the largest differences between going Natural and buying traditional drug store items. Some of the prices at the drug store are cheap because they are stocked full of cheap ingredients. Companies have been using these little beads for years and we are just discovering now how terrible they are for us and for animals. Imagine what other ingredients being used currently will be determined to be harmful in the future.
There are so many great alternatives to microbeads that will not pollute our Great Lakes and will also give you beautiful, exfoliated, younger looking skin. Have you tried coffee grounds? Our previous blog has some great benefits for coffee grounds and exfoliation is one of them. SkinnySkinny makes a great Black Coffee scrub that is better than any microbead scrub could ever be AND offers additional benefits like the reduction of cellulite. And All Things Jill makes a great Honey Therapy Body Polish that uses Cane Sugar as a scrub. As other alternatives, there is ground up rice, apricot seeds, and ground up walnut shells.
When checking the labels, be sure to be on the lookout for the words polyethylene and polypropylene and instead opt for natural ingredients that you are familiar with.
Live free, Luv natural
(Here is a list of products from the US that have been discovered to have microbeads. The lengthy list may shock you!)
And an interesting infographic from 5 Gyres Institute