I’ve been reading a bit about microbeads lately as there has been a move to ban them from being used in products in Australia following recent US legislation, including two of Australia’s biggest companies promising to phase them out by 2018. However, as someone who uses 100% natural beauty products most of the time, I hadn’t given them much thought and didn’t really know a lot about them. So here’s a quick overview.
What are microbeads?
Microbeads are tiny balls of plastic “microspheres” that are commonly used in cosmetic products such as facial washes and body scrubs to act as exfoliators. Microbeads by definition must be smaller than 5mm but are more commonly closer to 1mm in size. They are most commonly made of polyethylene but may also be made of other petrochemical plastics.
How are they harmful?
Microbeads are harmful to the environment in the way that most plastics are – they don’t break down easily and are harmful when ingested by wildlife. However, microbeads can be more harmful than plastic bags and bottles due to their tiny size making them resemble fish eggs so that marine life actively try to eat them!
What are the benefits of microbeads?
The funny thing is that there is no tangible benefit to having microbeads in beauty products! More than that, there are a number of natural products that would exfoliate just as effectively: oats, nuts, salt, sugar and shells for example!
So all up microbeads are really an unnecessary evil (no shocker there) with no place in our everyday beauty products! While it’s great that a number of countries and multi-national corporations are phasing them out, as consumers, why not start now! Pick the products that don’t contain microbeads in them now and prevent further unnecessary harm to the world’s ecosystems! xx