Why You Shouldn't Use Products Containing Microbeads
Microbeads, made of polyethylene plastic, are most commonly found in facial exfoliators and scrubs, though they can find their way in moisturizers and toothpaste too. Though they're promoted as being great for exfoliating, these tiny plastic bits are unable to decompose and due to their small size, slip through the drain and glide out and away into our rivers, our oceans, and even our Great Lakes. In Lake Ontario, a research study found 1.1 milion plastic particles per square kilometer.
But it's not just the pollution aspect that causes a problem, these microbeads could potentially make their way back to us. Because they look about the same size as fish eggs, they therefore look like tasty treats to larger fish. Thus, if a fish eats microbeads and soaks up its toxins (plastic is notoriously good at absorbing toxic pollutants like a sponge), those same chemicals can be passed on to humans and other animals when we consume them, making their way into the food-chain.
So before you buy an exfoliating product, make sure you look at the label. Anything that says microbeads is of course automatically out. But look also for more technical language, like polyethylene or polypolene, the plastic making up the beads.
I found the picture below from a Gizmodo article, and really wanted to include it here because it really illustrated how many of these beads can be found in just one facewash product. It's frightening, isn't it?
Bottom line: Be a smart, and mindful, consumer. Make sure you read the labels. Yes, we want our skin to be beautiful, and yes, we want us to be beautiful. But our polluting and poisoning this planet won't allow us to be beautiful for much longer.
Here's a list of products in the U.S that contain microbeads, though I'm sure it's not exhaustive.