Have you heard of microbeads?
Microbeads are tiny balls of plastic used as exfoliants and for texture in face washes, soaps, make-up and toothpastes. Most are petroleum-based plastics, like polyethylene and polypropylene and are not biodegradeable. I can’t imagine why companies manufacture personal care products with these toxic plastic beads, which then go down the bathroom drain straight into the sewer system. The problem is they are so small they cannot be filtered out of household wastewater by most water treatment facilities and as a result end up in our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans to be ingested by fish and other sea creatures. And when we eat fish, there is a good possibility we are ingesting them too! Due to their minute size, once they enter the marine environment, they are extremely difficult to remove and are likely to stay, contributing to the “plastic soup swirling around the world’s oceans”, as beatthemicrobead.org states.
The good news is that Illinois and a few other states have already banned microbeads, and federal legislation was introduced to ban them on the national level as well. Other countries already have.
Are there safer exfoliant alternatives?
Of course! Microbeads are an unnecessary additive to personal care products. Sugar, coffee grounds, sea salt, ground stone fruit pits, ground walnut shells or a natural body brush work even better as exfoliants. You can easily find natural and organic body care products using real ingredients at Whole Foods, other natural food stores and even CVS.
Or exfoliants are easy to make yourself. Below are recipes for a body and foot exfoliant using simple kitchen ingredients.
Coconut and Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Buff
1 ¼ cups brown or raw sugar, 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil, 15-20 drops vanilla essential oil
In a medium size bowl, combine sugar and coconut oil. If the coconut oil is solid, warm it over a low heat until it’s just melted, then blend with the sugar using a small whisk and making sure to break up any lumps of sugar. Add the vanilla drop-by-drop, blending after each addition. Spoon into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Massage ¼ to ½ cup of scrub onto premoistened skin using gentle circular motions. Rinse. Use 1 to 2 times per week. No refrigeration is required; for maximum freshness use within 6 months.
Recommended for all skin types except acneic. (Use with care on sensitive or environmentally damaged skin.)
Orange Ginger Warming Foot Scrub
This warming foot scrub is great for the winter, and leaves your feet feeling soft and relaxed. 1/4 cup sugar (white or brown), 1/4 cup sweet almond oil, 6 drops orange essential oil, 2 drops ginger essential oil, 1 level teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper In a plastic bowl, mix together the sugar and oil. Add the essential oils and stir. Add the cayenne pepper last and stir well to mix. To use, sit comfortably in the tub or over a pan of water and/or a large towel to catch the sugar scrub as it is applied. Scoop up a handful of the scrub for each foot and massage vigorously yet with care over heels, ankles, toes, arches and the balls of your feet. Be sure to scrub any rough areas especially well. Don’t forget to rinse the tub well when finished.
Check the Labels
Read the labels carefully on your personal care products. If they list microbeads or names you can’t pronounce, consider switching.
Visit safecosmetics.org for specific details about your products. Ban the bead! Who wants unsafe additives in their personal care products? Check out the brief video below further explaining the problems with microbeads.
Information compiled from: treehugger.com, beatthemicrobead.org, Organic Body Care Reipes, by Stephanie Tourles For more more body care recipes, visit greenwithbetsy.com.