What It Is
Microbeads are minuscule pieces of plastic that are often smaller than a grain of sand. Despite their tiny size, they pack a horrific punch against our health and the environment.
Where It’s Found
Personal care products such as toothpaste, exfoliants, and soap are common sites for microbeads due to their ability to add a rough texture. Microbeads are more commonly used than natural exfoliants since they are less abrasive and can therefore be used everyday instead of once a week.
Why It’s Bad
Let me tell you a story about the average microbead’s life: after being scrubbed onto a person’s face or teeth, a microbead is rinsed down the drain. Travelling along the pipes, the microbead is small enough to pass through the vast majority of water filtration systems. Once it reaches your local river, lake, or stream, the microbead acts like a sponge and soaks up any toxins around it, and is then eaten by a fish. Once the fish is caught and sold, it ends up back on your plate, filled with tiny toxic plastic particles for you to eat. Yummy.
Apart from the obvious health issues associated with this cycle, microbeads wreak havoc on waterways. Because they are so commonly used, these beads build up and have been found to be one of the worst causes of pollution on beaches, shorelines, and even the Great Pacific garbage patch–a growing collection of marine debris known for its high concentrations of plastic litter. Microbeads are also toxic to aquatic life, since they cause physiological damage. The creatures that make up the base of the marine food chain, such as krill, are dying in greater numbers by choking on the beads, which disrupts entire ecosystems.
Microbeads are fortunately avoidable, as long as you know how to look. Switching to natural exfoliants is a great option, so look out for sugar-, coffee-, or walnut-based products. You can also DIY your own scrubs using ingredients from your kitchen–just combine an oil like olive or coconut with an abrasive substance like sugar or coffee grounds and you’re good to go!
Another option that I find works really well on the dry patches of my combination skin is enzyme peels. Some peels are chemical-based, but there are natural ones on the market that work wonders. I will link my favourites below.
As always, the best thing you can do is know what ingredients to look out for next time you’re shopping for toothpaste or exfoliating products. To put it simply, if the product you’re looking at contains polyethylene or polystyrene, then it contains microbeads. Put it back on the shelf and walk away.
– Aloette Restorative Enzyme Peel: https://www.aloette.com/IndvItem.asp?InventoryID=1858&searcha=enzyme
– The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Revealing Liquid Peel: https://www.thebodyshop.com/en-ca/face/facial-peel/vitamin-c-glow-revealing-liquid-peel/p/p002357
– The Body Shop Satsuma Exfoliating Body Polish: https://www.thebodyshop.com/en-ca/body/body-scrub-polish/satsuma-exfoliating-body-polish/p/p000092
– The Body Shop Gentle Exfoliating Bath Sponge: https://www.thebodyshop.com/en-ca/face/facial-accessories/gentle-exfoliating-bath-sponge/p/p000328
– Sukin Purifying Body Scrub: https://sukinnaturals.com/collections/body-care/products/purifying-body-scrub
I wanted to take a moment at the end of this post to reflect on my journey with this blog so far. I have been so grateful for the support I have received from fellow beauty bloggers, and I really hope that I have educated some of you on things you never knew about. One less toxic product bought equals one healthier person in this world, and that’s all that matters to me. I will be taking a short break from blogging for now, but I will continue to be active on social media and I hope that if you have any questions that you will continue to send them my way so that we can continue to learn together. I can’t wait to see where this goes!