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Everything you need to know about Microbeads

January 31, 2017

Everything you need to know about Microbeads

A swift Google search will give you a raft of information on microbeads and why the world is so keen to ban them from personal care and cleaning products, but here are some of the key points you need to know….


What are microbeads?

Microbeads are very small pieces of plastic which manufacturers add to a variety of products to improve their scrubbing power, texture or appearance.  They look like tiny balls, some the size of a pin head and some so small they’re invisible to the naked eye.

Why are microbeads bad for the environment?

Taking a single shower using gel containing microbeads can result in 100,000 being washed down the drain.   Wastewater treatment plants weren’t designed  to filter out such small particles, so the beads end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Fish and other marine life ingest the microbeads, which not only damage the health of the animal, but subsequently make their way into our food chain.

What products can I find microbeads in?

Beauty products, such as toothpaste, body scrubs, face washes, shower gels and even deodorant! Also household cleaning products.

How can I avoid buying a product containing microbeads?

The best thing to do is check the ingredients before you buy. You’re looking for polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid, or nylon— these are the most common plastics that make up microbeads.

What is the government doing about microbeads?

Many beauty brands are voluntarily removing microbeads from their products, but beauty, cleaning and health products containing microbeads will be banned from June 30, 2018

What products should I use instead?

The best thing you can do for the environment is choose a natural alternative, where possibly. ‘Rinse off products’ are mainly on the radar when it comes to avoiding microbeads, but check your deodorant too - you might get a nasty surprise (although not with a Salt of the Earth deodorant)!  To be sure you’re doing your bit to fight the microbead, invest in a good natural deodorant, which will be free from any synthetic additives and look for exfoliators that contain natural abrasives such as walnut shells.   

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