Americans, you may have to say farewell to some of your favorite face washes, soaps and toothpastes soon. Beginning in 2017, the further selling and distribution of products that contain plastic microbeads will be prohibited to help protect America’s waterways and marine wildlife.
A microbead is a tiny solid plastic particle, less than 5 millimeters in size and is produced with various washes and other personal care products for enhanced cleansing and/or exfoliation. The problem with microbeads is that they do not dissolve and once washed down the drain, they end up in various water sources. A single bottle of face wash can contain up to 300,000 microbeads and they are small enough to slip right through our filtration systems.
A study published in September 2015 revealed that over 8 trillion microbeads were entering aquatic habitats each day, weighing to about 300 tons per year. Not only are they causing increased pollution, but the marine wildlife are confusing the microbeads with food. Scientists are currently researching whether these ingested microbeads could cause a chemical transfer to humans that eat these species, such as fish.
Worried about no longer being able to exfoliate with your favorite cleansers?
There are many safe alternatives that can be added into your washes and soaps that are found right in your kitchen cabinet:
Baking soda offers a number of purposes ranging from baking, deodorizing, cleaning and much more, including acting as a natural exfoliate. Baking soda is very gentle on the skin and is one of the cheapest and most simple alternatives for exfoliation and cleansing. Baking soda can also be added to toothpastes for an extra whitening boost.
Sugar particles are small and rough which makes them an ideal choice for cleansing and exfoliating your skin. Sugar is also full of glycolic acid (C2H4O3) which is great for your skin – It assists with breaking down dead skin cells and can even decrease the appearance of fine lines. In-store products containing glycolic acid can sell for almost $40 depending on the brand, but you can find the same thing at a fraction of the price in your own home.
If you’re in need of a gentler alternative for exfoliation, oatmeal is your go-to, especially for those with sensitive skin. Oatmeal exfoliating is most efficient after being ground up in a food processor; then add water or another base, like a mild soap. Oatmeal also helps to absorb oil, so you receive the benefit of cleansing and exfoliation all in one.
Sea salt granules are usually larger than table salt and pretty coarse. This makes them a great exfoliant for those rougher areas, like your elbows and feet. Just mix some up with some oil and you get a great alternative.
A newer launch for some personal care and cosmetics companies was utilizing coffee grounds in their facial products. Caffeine can decrease puffiness around your eyes, as well as exfoliate your skin. The best part is you don’t have to waste un-used grounds – it is effective to use both fresh grounds and already brewed grounds! All you have to do is add a bit of oil and you have a great substitute for microbead particles. Just be prepared to do a bit of a clean-up afterwards, coffee grounds can get a little messy!