What’s The Fuss Over Microbeads


You should know that microbeads are deadly.

Environmental groups around the world are calling for a ban on microbeads, the small exfoliating beads found in many cleansers and exfoliators. On December 28, 2015 President Obama signed a Bill that banned the ingredient in the United States. Social change group Do Something started an Australian campaign to ban microbeads in 2014, which resulted in several beauty companies committing to stop using microbeads in their products.

According to The New York Times, “the effect is similar to grinding up plastic water bottles, other products of concern to environmentalists, and pumping them into oceans and lakes.”

But for those of us who aren’t scientists or environmental experts, it’s hard to believe that such tiny beads could be so damaging to the environment. After all, they are often found in products marked ‘gentle’ or ‘soothing.’ The issue with microbeads is that they aren’t biodegradable and once they are washed down the drain they enter and pollute our waterways. Once in our waterways, the plastic beads are then being ingested by fish and other aquatic life. What’s even more terrifying is that there’s potential for fish that have ingested the microbeads to end up on our dinner plates.

So what’s being done? In December 2015 Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced that his state and territory counterparts had agreed on a voluntary phase-out of the beads by July 1, 2018. Large companies including L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Clarins, Clearasil and Ella Bache have committed to phasing out microbeads from their products.

If you want to check to see if your products have microbeads in them, there’s an app for that. The free Beat The Microbead app will scan barcodes of personal care products and let you know if it contains microbeads.

If your favorite cleanser or scrub does contain microbeads, there are plenty of environmentally friendly alternatives your skin will love such as Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant ($73), Palmer’s Micro Fine Exfoliating Facial Scrub ($9.99) and Alpha H Gentle Daily Exfoliant ($62).



Written by Sophie Howe.