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Skincare News: Microbead Ban Gains Momentum

by Will / October, 28 2015 01:30

Did you know the skin care, hair care and dental products in your bathroom cupboard may be filled with tiny plastic beads? Did you know these beads are a major environmental problem? It's true, plastic microbeads are commonly added to personal care products such as face scrubs, exfoliators and even toothpaste. One bottle of face scrub can contain up to 300,000 beads according to the non-profit 5Gyres and these beads end up in our water ways where they are toxic to marine life and add to the general pollution.


Scope of the Issue

Microbeads are everywhere. In places like the Great Lakes, the L.A. River, our oceans and just about every body of water out there these beads are an issue. For example, Lake Michigan is estimated to have 17,000 bits per square kilometer and Lake Ontario 1.1 million per square kilometer.  That's a lot of plastic!


Dangers of Plastic Microbeads

One problem is the beads look like food to marine life. So fish, turtles, whales and the rest gobble them up. Plastic microbeads also absorb other toxins in the water, so if a fish eats them not only is it an issue for the fish but also the toxins are likely to end up in our food.

Another problem is the beads are simply pollution as they don't biodegrade. Do we really want all this plastic in our waterways and food chain?


Manufacturers Respond

Some alternatives like sand and apricot seeds are emerging and many manufacturers already ban microbeads in their products or have pledged to completely remove microbeads over the next few years. It's a promising start. Let's just hope it's seen through to the end.


Legislation Underway

State legislators are getting involved too. In fact, California just passed a bill banning all microbeads by 2020. Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey also passed legislation recently. Other states, including Rhode Island, have bills underway.


What You Can Do

There are several non-profit organizations working to ban the beads. They have petitions, information and even an app to see if your favorite products contain plastic microbeads. Here's a few to check out:

You can take action too by avoiding products that contain plastic microbeads. Some products will say directly on the label "contains microbeads" but others aren't so easy to spot. According to The Good Scrub Guide look for the following ingredients in your products. If they use them, they likely contain plastic microbeads:

  • Polyethylene
  • Oxidised polyethylene
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
  • Nylon
  • Polypropylene.


Our Take

We think this is a major issue in skin care that fortunately shouldn't be too hard to stop. It's simple, companies should not use plastic microbeads in their products. We certainly don't and pledge not to in the future either. Our health and our planet's health is vital. We hope other companies feel the same.


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