Microbeads are super teeny tiny pieces of plastic that are smaller than a grain of sand.
They are used in so many products we use on a daily basis. You might be swooshing them around in your mouth as mouthwash, using them to brush your teeth, or even rubbing them all over your face in your face wash! Sometimes these toxic pieces of plastic are even used in age-defying makeup…yuck! They are added to many personal care products as exfoliants or to even just add texture.. but there’s very little proof that they work at all. According to an estimate from the United Nations Environmental Program, a typical exfoliating shower gel might contain as much plastic in microbead form than there is in the plastic container itself!
However, the biggest problem revolving around microbeads is that they filter down your drain and right into our oceans! Since they are so incredibly tiny most water treatment plants can’t capture them so they end up polluting the oceans with even more plastic. In addition to that, they are designed to absorb things around them and soak up all the toxins like a sponge. One single microbead smaller than a grain of sand can end up being a million times more toxic than the water around it! They freely float collecting more and more toxic particles.
These microbeads look like food to the fish and end up becoming dinner to many marine live. And to talk about how amazing the circle of life is, these microbeads ingested by fish can end up back on our plates at sushi restaurants.
Okay, now that we are aware of these harmful little guys. Here are some things we can do to help reduce microbeads.
Be aware- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that if a product contains microbes- it must be listed. So if you are about to purchase a product- turn it around and look at the ingredients on the back. If the product contains polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate…you are about to use plastic on your body. So set it back down and you have already done a big part for the environment.
For some natural exfoliate remedies use a nice sugar scrub, oatmeal, or even almonds ground up in a food processor. These natural remedies work so well that they are only needed maybe once a week. Commercial exfoliates use softer microbes so you can use them everyday…which is good for the companies because it sends you right back to the store in need of a new bottle!
For even more information here is a great two minute video that fully explains microbeads and can even serve as a great educational tool.
On a happier note, in 2015 the FDA prohibited the manufacturing of microbeads and they are suppose to be completely erased in 2020!
With this news in mind, still be aware of the products you are using and the impact they have not only on your skin but the environment. Let’s ban the bead!