Bye, microbeads! 6 products that do without
Outside of animal testing, few ethical issues have troubled the beauty world quite like microbeads.
Developed as a cheap, non-abrasive alternative to natural exfoliants, they have been used in everything from skin cleansers and scrubs to shower gels and toothpaste.
Sadly, their use has led to billions of these tiny toxic time bombs being washed down plugholes worldwide, passing through water filtration systems and polluting rivers, lakes and oceans, where they’re swallowed by fish.
This allows them to enter the food chain. Unless you check every single label of every product, chances are you will have already come across them.
The good news is that thanks to campaigners like Greenpeace, 2018 begins with a ban on the manufacture of microbeads in the UK.
Products already on the shelves may still have them, though (until July) so it’s worth checking labels. Look out for words like polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon or the initials PE, PP, PET or PMMA.
Also, be very cautious about special offers as some retailers may want to offload stock before the sale ban comes in.
The other good news is there are plenty of natural alternatives to microbeads (soy-based substitutes are already in the pipeline), even if you have sensitive skin and might have benefitted from the beads’ smooth surface.
If you find crushed nuts (a natural exfoliant) too abrasive, think about products containing poppy seeds and oats, or check out Odilique’s award-winning exfoliators; spherical jojoba beads found in products like Liz Earle’s Gentle Face Exfoliator, or organic rice powder (both Neal’s Yard Remedies’ men’s and women’s scrubs use these).
You might also want to switch to exfoliation methods that don’t use any particles at all like sponges, cleansing clothes or liquid exfoliants such as REN’s Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask which use Alpha Hydroxy Acids instead.
The bottom line is that the ban on microbeads isn’t a ban on looking good, it’s just a ban on an ingredient that has proved to be one of the beauty industry’s biggest and most costly mistakes.
HOW TO BIN THE BEADS
Discovered you’ve a product containing microbeads? Add a little water to it and use a paper coffee filter or muslin bag to catch them, then dispose of them in your weekly rubbish. Far better landfill than the ocean.
SIX OF THE BEADLESS BEST
1. NYR Men Exfoliating Face Scrub, £15, Neal’s Yard Remedies
2.Odylique Honey & Oat Cleansing Bar, £6.50, Odylique
3.Balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm, £20, Balance Me
4.Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator £16.50, Liz Earle
5. Weleda Salt Toothpaste, £4.75, Weleda
6. Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, £34, Ren Skincare