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Friday, January 20, 2017

11 Alternatives to Plastic Microbeads

11 alternatives to plastic microbeads

We've all seen, and probably used, products with plastic microbeads in them. If a product boasts "exfoliating beads!" that's a red flag. You can know for sure by reading the ingredients (polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate is what you're looking for). They may help your face feel smooth, but they are wreaking havoc on our waterways.
plastic microbeads
via 5 Gyres
Microbeads are most often found in face washes, soaps, toothpastes, and body scrubs but sometimes also lip gloss and nail polish. They are usually smaller than 2 millimeters, thus they easily go down our drains and flow into the water systems. Since they're plastic, they easily soak up toxins in the water. Marine life mistakes the little beads for food, ingests them, and that marine life may end up on your plate.

In 2015, President Obama signed a bill that banned the beads but the ban on manufacturing such products doesn't go into place until July 2017, and they won't be banned entirely until 2018. The UK has made plans to phase out microbeads as well, but there may potentially be some loopholes. Many other countries have proposed bans and the United Nations even recommend a worldwide ban.

Progress is good, but it's going a little too slow if you ask me. I still see people buying products with microbeads, YouTubers showing their face washing routine that includes microbead face washes, and people recommending these products to others. Frankly, that all makes me want to scream. The products with microbeads are being phased out, they have been banned, that's a pretty big clue that we shouldn't be using them anymore!
plastic microbeads
When President Obama first signed the bill banning the beads, an old high school acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook, "Ugh, thanks a lot, Obama. What am I going to exfoliate with now?" If you're wondering the same thing, here's some ideas.
  1. Crushed walnut shells
  2. Seeds, crushed or full 
  3. Baking soda
  4. Coffee grounds
  5. Shredded loofah
  6. Sugar
  7. Sea salt
  8. Oatmeal
  9. Corn kernel meal
  10. Bamboo extract
  11. Pumice 
Of course, there are other exfoliants out there but I wanted to list the ones you could easily find, not only as ingredients in drugstore and high-end products, but also you can easily find these items at the grocery store or on Amazon and make your own scrub. One of my favorite things to do is mix coffee grounds with coconut oil-- it exfoliates and makes my skin so soft and smooth.

I was going to list examples for products that contain these exfoliants but there are just so many options out there. We don't need plastic microbeads! We need to encourage others to use these alternatives instead until the bans take effect. If you live somewhere where a ban hasn't been put in place yet, write your lawmakers!

Tell me your favorite microbead alternative in the comments!

Further viewing: How Plastic Microbeads are Causing Big Problems by Lush Cosmetics & 5 Gyres Institute 
Further reading: Microbeads: How Did Companies Respond? from Greenpeace International
2 comments on "11 Alternatives to Plastic Microbeads"
  1. I've been thinking of making my own scrub for awhile now with either coffee or sugar. I also no longer buy scrubs that have microbeads in them. I use one from Acure Organics now. Pricier, but better for everyone in the long run.

  2. I love using coffee grounds and coconut oil as an in-shower scrub! Those plastic beadlets are so awful... so glad Bath and Body Works started phasing them out while I was working there for a while. Great suggestions for natural alternatives!

    Amber ||


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