Microbeads are back in the news this week as environmental campaigners joined forces to celebrate ‘World Oceans Day’ by increasing pressure on major cosmetic companies to stop using these minute plastic particles in products ranging from body scrubs to toothpaste.

These beads are so small that they pass though sewage filters and end up in the sea. And it’s here they enter the food chain, getting ingested by plankton, molluscs, fish, birds – and eventually humans. And since the particles absorb toxic chemicals found in our polluted seas, this could be a serious health issue for both animals and ourselves.

Cosmetic companies add microbeads to their products as a scrubbing agent – to exfoliate and clean. But although many companies have been forced by public pressure to find natural alternatives, some of the largest organisations – including both Clarins and Olay – are said to be dragging their feet.

beat-the-microbead69 conservation groups have come together to form an organisation called ‘Beat the Microbead’. They had some forceful words to say about some of these companies. Responding to Clarins’ claim that it is “…working tirelessly on its bio responsibilities”, the society said;

Clarins should communicate when its care products will be free from micro plastics. If not, we can hardly take them seriously”.

It also said that Olay, which is owned by Proctor & Gamble, were “delaying the removal of microbeads”. And that Johnson & Johnson had “only agreed to reformulate half its products to remove microbeads”.

Botanicals founder, Wendy said:

man-facial-polish-exfoliantsIt’s beyond belief that these multi-national companies are allowed to continue using these plastic particles in skincare products. Especially since there are many natural alternatives which are better for both us and the natural environment in so many ways.

Here at Botanicals we use a range of natural exfoliants (see photo top of page). Our body and foot scrubs contain Dead Sea salt and Himalayan mineral salt. We use organic raw cane sugar in our hand and body polishes. And powdered organic rosehip, organic oatmeal and bamboo in our facial polishes (right). (Click on the product name to view it).

As well as being perfect exfoliants, natural salts and minerals provide health-boosting benefits for both body and skin. And cane sugar contains glycolic acid; an alpha-hydroxy acid that is crucial for maintaining healthy skin.

Join the campaign!

For anyone interested in discovering more about the subject, and supporting the campaign to ban the use of microbeads, check out the ‘Ban the Microbead’ website.

The site includes a short YouTube video (in French but with English subtitles). You can also download an app to scan product barcodes and discover whether they contain microbeads. I tested the app in our local chemist and found one product that included microbeads. More details to follow…

clean-clear-ingredientsCheck the ingredients
The words to look out for when checking products for plastic microbeads are polyethylene, polypropylene and nylon.