Micro plastics are hidden in a shocking number of personal care products, including face and body scrubs and toothpaste, under the names polyethylene and polypropylene. These plastic ‘beads’ are used to add exfoliant action or simply to make a product seem shiny and effective when being considered for purchase by unwitting drugstore shoppers.
These plastic beads are designed to go down the drain with the rinsewater, and since they can’t be filtered out by wastewater facilities, they end up in the rivers, lakes and eventually, the ocean. This means they end up in, among other things sharks, corals, mussels and fish. At best, microbeads are an example of terrible design, but consider them a crime against nature.
Some brands have made slow moves to remove or replace the microbeads in their formulations, emphasis on slooooow. Some countries have moved to ban the bead, and yes, it’s good news. But the whole process could take years. One single product can contain up to 360,000 pieces of microplastics!
Microbeads are completely unnecessary in your quest for great skin.
The good news – no one actually needs microplastics and there are plenty of alternatives. The other good news is that when you back out of the drugstore, you can avoid a tidal wave of over-packaging too. The other, other good news? Most of these alternatives I’m about to suggest are super cheap, which means more money in your pocket to spend on experiences.
So here you go – if you’re looking for a way to get healthy, smooth skin without the lurking stupidity of microplastics, here’s what I use or have tried, and whose effectiveness is just as good or better than anything you’ll find in a drugstore:
Try these microbead scrub alternatives
Extra light, good option for your face.
Don’t let the dried shape fool you – once wet, the konjac sponge softens and offers a delicate cleansing. Water is all you need to wash your face. It’s made from a root vegetable, so you can compost it when it’s worn out.
Medium, good option for your face
Baking soda – what can’t you do with it, really? I take a small amount of baking soda, mix in a few drops of water and use the paste to exfoliate my face. It’s mild, yet effective.
Medium, good option for your body
A loofah is a vine grown vegetable vaguely related to the cucumber. They are a beautiful addition to your shower -much better looking than those ubiquitous plastic poufs. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try growing your own.
Strong, good option for your body
I mixed white sugar (any kind of sugar would do, short of confectioner’s!) with coconut oil and used it on my lizard-like limbs while road tripping around the western US. I eventually stopped having real showers on that trip, except for the salt water variety (blame the drought) and this concoction worked surprisingly well, even without water.
Coconut fibre brush
Strong, good for dry brushing
The stiff fibres of the coconut fibre brush make it an excellent option for dry brushing. When you’ve worn it out, you can compost it. They take eons to wear out, and in fact I haven’t yet worn one out.
Save your time, your health, and the ocean by skipping microbeads
Skip the drugstore ‘beauty’ aisle and try these microbead-free alternatives for face and body. You’ll reduce your skin’s toxic load, save money, and ditch the stress of reading ingredients lists. The bonus (and it’s a big one) is that you can typically source all of the options I’ve suggested in recyclable packaging or bulk refill – which means no micro or macro plastics to contend with.