Microbeads are a relatively new form of plastic and are primarily found in beauty products for the purpose of exfoliation. Unlike typical microplastics that are broken down from larger pieces of plastics in harsh environments like the ocean, microbeads are specifically made to be extremely small. Many exfoliators and scrubs have microbeads that are effective at doing its job as a scrubbing agent, however, these scrubs are terrible for municipal water purification systems. Due to the extremely small size of the microbeads, most water purification systems don’t have the technology to filter out the microbeads, allowing them to end up in “clean” water or in the ocean.
Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, are all examples of popular brands that use microbeads in their products. Unfortunately, microbeads are very difficult to avoid in American markets. Microbeads come in many shapes and colors and are made of Polyethylene, acrylate copolymer, Polyacrylate, Polylactic acid, Polyethylene-glycol, and many more kinds, but these are the most common. The app and the website called “Beat the Microbead” can help with your microbead woes. In app form, you can scan the barcode on a product and it’ll tell you if the product definitely has, might have, or doesn’t have microplastics. On the website, it has product lists for several countries and a special label for zero microplastics found to be in a certain product.
Despite the difficulty in finding microplastic-free products, there are some brands that don’t allow their products to contain microbeads. Brands such as Simple Sugars, Auromere, Envy U Skincare, and Trinity are safe zones for microbead-less products. Other brands include Biore, St. Ives, Burt’s Bees, and OGX.
What to do with your microbead containing products? Keep them. Use them until there is nothing left, recycle the bottle, and when it comes time to buy new bottles, buy a microbead-less beauty product. Slowly, as you have to replace your products, replace them with microbead-less products. Eventually, you’ll have no microbeads in your products! To make your fix truly effective, share this and your knowledge with your friends, family, or even your local government.