Photo Credit: “Nurdles 01 gentlemanrook” by gentlemanrook – originally posted to Flickr as Plastic Pellets – “Nurdles”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Micro-Exfoliating beads help to open the pours of skin to allow for deeper cleansing and, theoretically, healthier skin. However, these beads pose a serious waste problem. They are too small to be filtered by water treatment facility and are ending up polluting oceans and lakes all over the world. Reviews from Avkaplan Niva and the IVM Institute for Environmental Studies expose the extent to which these beads have inundated the environment in a short time.
- Inundation: A study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin tested water from the great lakes and found that, depending on proximity to cities, the water contained between 43,000 micro-plastic particles/km² and 466,000 particles/km², the latter representing a large percentage of water born particulate matter.
- Impact on Sea-Life: According to Niva, wild caught fish are found with 1 to 7 microplastic beads in their digestive system when examined. Ingestion through mouths and gills has been observed in lab settings, posing serious risk to smaller fish.
- Chemical Impact: The many chemicals used in the production of plastics leak out into the water and into the animals that ingest them. Furthermore, it is possible that the plastics act as vectors for absorbed chemicals already present in the water, aiding in their accumulation and fauna ingestion. Plastics are helping to kill the ocean, and micro exfoliating beads are leading the charge.
Alternatives to Micro-Beads
If you want to exfoliate your skin while avoiding these plastics, these alternatives provide an environmentally conscious means of doing so:
- Honey: Honey is a natural exfoliate, but beyond that it acts as a humectant, which means it locks moisture onto the skin. Honey also contains anti-bacterial properties which can keep pathogens detrimental to skin health away from the surface.
- Biodegradable “Beads:” Small objects such as rice, apricot seeds, and walnut shells can be mixed into other skin care to produce the same effects as the plastic beads.
- Konjac Sponge: If you want the rough, pour opening properties of microbeads, consider a Konjac Sponge. Made from a root of the same name, this sponge will open pours and clean off dead skin.
- A review from Avkaplan Niva
- A review from IVM Institute for Environmental Studies
- A study published by the Marine Pollution Bulletin
- Articles on alternatives from Time and The Huffington Post