They’ve been in the news quite a lot recently but unless you’re up-to-date with your environmental matters, you might be wondering why microbeads are getting all that flack. Or maybe even what they are in the first place…
What Are Microbeads and Why Do We Use Them?
Microbeads are small synthetic beads found in facial and body exfoliators, toothpastes and some cleaning products. They are usually less that 5mm in size and are most commonly used in those beauty products that where they claim to effectively remove dry cells from the skin leaving you with a glowing complexion.
Why the Controversy?
This all sounds rather harmless and quite beneficial for your skin, so where’s the problem? Well, in fact the use of synthetic microbeads in these types of products is far from harmless. They have proved themselves to be rather robust little things, and once they’re rinsed off your face and teeth, they then enter the water supply, are small enough to bypass water filtration plants, and end up in lakes and rivers. They’ve even been found on the ocean floor and in Arctic sea ice. However, the real problems arise when they enter the food chain, with marine animals and seabirds ingesting the microbeads, with the danger coming when they become toxic in large quantities. They can even end up in our own digestive systems if they get higher up the chain.
What’s Being Done About the Microbeads Problem?
In 2017, a US law will come into force banning the sale of all products with microbeads in them, and this move has now put pressure on the UK government to take more action of the issue. But things are moving in the right direction – up until now the UK government has favoured a voluntary phasing out, with the onus being on beauty companies and manufacturers to take their own measures. This pressure from both the government, environmental organisations and public has already begun to bear fruit with Unilever already starting this process, and L’Oreal soon to follow suit next year. However, it seems there might be even more government action in the future following a call from the Environmental Audit Committee last week for a worldwide ban on microbeads to take effect as soon as possible.
How to Avoid Microbeads
Thankfully there is plenty shoppers can do whatever the results of the legal microbead machinations. Even if you want to exfoliate your skin on a regular basis, there are many different products available that do exactly the same job whilst not harming the environment. In fact, not using microbeads is no great sacrifice at all! Here are a few ways you can avoid them when considering all your beauty requirements
There are plenty of beauty products containing natural ingredients that do exactly the same job without adversely affecting the environment. For example, you can buy exfoliators that use apricot kernels, crushed cocoa beans, mango seeds and crushed papaya, and the Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator (available with Liz Earle voucher codes) uses natural jojoba beads to do its job.
You could choose to try a completely different product that does the same job as an exfoliator – removes those dead skin cells. One such product is a leave-on serum that contains either AHAs or BHAs. These stand for alpha hydroxyl acids and beta hydroxyl acids and are naturally occurring or synthetic chemical compounds that dissolve the bonds between skin cells to remove dead particles and leave smoother skin. These are often preferred by those who don’t like using abrasive scrubs and can also help with reduce fine lines and acne scars, so use Look Fantastic promo codes to see what’s available.
You don’t even have to use any fancy exfoliating products if you don’t want to because something as simple as a face cloth can help remove those dead skin cells. Incorporate a hot cloth cleanse into your daily routine using specialist hot cloth cleansing products (some come complete with their own muslin cloth), or just your favourite cleanser and a simple face cloth. You can then wash the cloths regularly and reuse to cut down on waste too. Konjac sponges are also worth looking into because not only do they exfoliate the skin, they also contain naturally occurring vitamins and are antibacterial (available using Cult Beauty discount vouchers).
For the sake of the environment, here’s hoping we’ll be seeing fewer microbeads in the future, but until then there are plenty of alternatives, many of which do an equally good, if not better job!
By Anna Scott, 29th August 2016