1. What are plastic microbeads and why are they commonly found in skincare products?
Microbeads are tiny round plastic beads that are found in some exfoliating products and they are causing quite a stir in the environmental world. The plastic waste caused by these microbeads, which are not filtered out during sewage treatment, is damaging water ecosystems and killing marine life.
2. What are some negative effects of these plastic microbeads?
A 2013 research study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Superior showed that there were 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile in the Great Lakes! Not only are the beads damaging to fish, they are also bad for your face – microbeads can cause eye irritation, and promote rosacea and couperose. It’s no wonder that Illinois was the first state to ban the use of microbeads in June of 2014 and I sincerely hope all other states will quickly follow.
3. What are some alternatives to these plastic microbeads and how are they better for the client and the environment?
Instead of using plastic beads, consider other natural options like scrubs with ground up seeds and stone pits from apricots/peaches, crushed walnut husks, oats, coffee grinds, salt, and sugar. I especially recommend sugar for clients dealing with eczema since it’s non irritating on broken skin, and sea salt for psoriasis sufferers, but not more than once a week. All other scrubs can be used 3 times a week, but not more – our skin needs adequate time to amass dry dead cells, and you definitely don’t want to over-exfoliate!
4. How can skincare companies make clients aware of the issue and the benefits of using products that contain safer plastic bead alternatives?
Companies can provide the full list of ingredients on their packaging, and encourage the use of natural, biodegradable ingredients with explanations in their ads. Educating the consumer is the best strategy for forming a long-term honest relationship!