Along with New Zealand, five Nordic countries—Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden—are next in line to ban the use of microbeads and microplastics in cosmetics. This comes after the US passes the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 and Canada adds Microbeads to its list of toxic substances. More countries are taking legal action to prevent microbeads from polluting our planet.
Microbeads can be found in toothpaste, but a majority of the products containing them are facial cleansers that are meant to be used daily. But there’s a twofold problem with using microbeads on your face every day. First, microbeads are not biodegradable and their small size allows them to slip through filtration systems into our water sources where they can be mistaken for food by fish. Second, microbeads are essentially made out of the same plastic as milk bottles, making them too abrasive for everyday use.
It takes 28 days for skin cells to regenerate in younger adults and twice as long for those over 50. Exfoliating every day removes these cells faster than they can be replaced. As a result, the skin’s barrier is weakened and susceptible to further damage from exfoliation, accelerating the aging process by letting in bacteria and causing sensitivity and irritation. Deep exfoliating agents, like microbeads, probably don’t belong in daily facial cleansers.
If you are looking for a deep exfoliator, there are options that are natural, renewable and biodegradable. Natural alternatives to microbeads include:
These alternatives can replace harmful plastic microbeads and offer the amount of exfoliation your skin requires. Even with natural exfoliators, it is important to be mindful of over-exfoliating. For everyday cleansing, a high-quality microfiber cloth and water only may be best.
If you are ever unsure about a product, the “Beat the Microbead” campaign’s website and smartphone app can tell you which brands use microbeads and microplastics. The website even allows you to contribute to the list of worldwide brands that use microbeads and other microplastics.
With so many natural, renewable and eco-friendly options for exfoliating, it makes sense that more countries are moving to ban the use and manufacture of microbeads. These new laws and campaigns like “Beat the Microbead” work to bring awareness about the detrimental effects of microbeads.