What’s all the fuss about microbeads? Well, these micro-plastic balls that can be found in many of our daily cosmetics are extremely harmful to the environment, wildlife and even your skin. Environmental campaigners have been pressurising the government to make these beads illegal, with a microbeads ban on personal care and cosmetic products due to be in place by 30th June 2018. But how do you avoid the little nasties until then?

Luckily, there are some great exfoliating products available that don’t contain toxic microbeads, including the Bioeffect Volcanic Exfoliator. Read on to learn more about microbeads, why they are damaging to both the planet and humans and discover which alternative products are safe and natural to use.

What Are Microbeads?

Microbeads, or exfoliating beads, are tiny balls of plastic added to many cosmetic and cleaning products. They are usually made from polyethylene, as well as other petrochemical plastics, such as polypropylene and polystyrene.

Microbeads are popular in products such as body washes, soaps and facial scrubs as the small, hard balls are ideal for cleaning debris from the skin’s pores. Since they were introduced in 1972, many of the big cosmetic companies chose plastic microbeads over natural exfoliates, such as ground nut shells or seeds, as they are cheaper and easier to mass produce.

Ranging in size from a fraction of a millimetre to about a millimetre and a quarter, the exfoliating beads are small enough to be washed down the plughole and pass through our water filtration systems, causing potential harm to the environment.

what are microbeads Source: Andrew Watts

Why Should I Avoid Microbeads Products?

Harmful to the environment and nature
From just one single application of a product containing microbeads, 100,000 of the plastic shards are washed down the sink, heading straight to our oceans. A variety of marine life, from small fish, amphibians and turtles to birds and larger mammals, can mistake the exfoliating beads for food and swallow them.

Dr David Santillo, of the Greenpeace science unit, says polyethylene plastic easily absorbs pollutants and toxins from seawater, potentially poisoning any wildlife that consumes it. Microbeads can even be more detrimental than larger plastic waste, as they are ingested into the blood streams of fish, which means they can work their way up the food chain and onto your dinner plate.

Harmful to your health
Microbeads, complete with all the toxins absorbed on their journey, can end up inside humans through the consummation of seafood and even sea salt, causing a build-up of micro-plastic inside our blood streams and tissue. Pollutants inside microbeads have been linked to cancer, diabetes, birth defects, hormone disruption and developmental problems in humans. Even before the beads start their journey from the plug hole, through the sewers and into the ocean, the plastic contains BPA and other chemical additives that are dangerous if eaten.

Although there is an impending ban on microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products, it’s still legal for household cleaning products, such as washing powder and household cleaners, to contain the beads. This means despite the upcoming ban, vast amounts of micro-plastic will still end up in the sea and ultimately, in our stomachs.

Don’t like the thought of consuming tiny balls of toxic plastic loaded with pollutants? Sign Green Peace’s petition to ban ALL microbeads products.

Products with microbeads are damaging to the skin
Although many use facial scrubs and exfoliators to improve their appearance, microbeads products could actually be damaging to the skin. One of the so-called benefits of using products with microbeads is that the exfoliating beads are gentle enough to be used every day. However, dermatologists have since reported a number of patients suffering from skin damage due to them using the products too often. Persistent use of the beads can rip the skin and damage its natural defence system, leaving it open to breakouts and premature ageing.

Read our step-by-step guide on how to safely exfoliate skin.

Alternative Ways To Exfoliate

The UK is already taking steps to make microbeads illegal, but which products are safe to use until the microbeads ban is in full effect?

Start by avoiding products that contain polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene and look for organic exfoliates that are made from natural sources. Natural ingredients are always best for the skin.

Our Bioeffect Volcanic Exfoliator is totally free from plastic microbeads, instead containing Icelandic micro-crystalline lava and apricot kernels. These amazing, natural ingredients clarify the skin by gently removing dead skin cells and provide a deep cleanse that results in soft, smooth and refreshed skin. It also contains coconut oil, salicylic acid and vitamin-E to keep skin moisturised and firm.

why are microbeads bad Bioeffect Volcanic Exfoliator, £30.00

To find out more about the benefits of exfoliating your skin click here.