Those abrasive facial exfoliating scrubs you buy from the beauty aisle are doing your skin, and the environment, more harm than good. We all understand how wonderful a feeling it is to scrub those dead skin cells off your body but like with most things, you need to evaluate the health risks of the products you are using and the environmental consequences. Unfortunately, many of these products have not been manufactured with either taken into consideration.
Study after study is coming out detailing the widespread accumulation of microbeads in our waterways. These microbeads, commonly found in exfoilating scrubs and toothpastes, are wrecking havoc on acqautic ecosystems. At the simplest level, these microbeads are made of plastic particles. You scrub your face. You wash your face. The non-biodegradable microbeads get washed down the drain, bypassing the filtration systems in waste-water plants. They leech into our waterways. Small fish and plankton mistake the microbeads as food. They eat them, along with any toxins the microbeads have absorbed. They stay in the food chain up to the point we eat the fish that have consumed these plastics. And so the cycle repeats.
What are Microbeads?
- Tiny plastic particles generally less than 5mm in diameter, however, many major brands contain Microbeads less than 1mm in diameter… undetectable to the human eye but no less harmful.
- Commonly made from polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), these forms of plastic are known to either leech toxins into the environment or absorb harmful chemicals.
What’s wrong with Microbeads?
- Microbeads are made of plastic particles known to be harmful to human health and the environment.
- Despite many manufacturers agreeing to phase them out, they’re still found in some brands of toothpaste and facial scrubs.
- They have the potential to absorb other toxic chemicals like a sponge.
- Exposure to the sun further degrades these plastics and divides the particles into even smaller pieces, leeching chemicals in the process.
- Small fish and plankton mistake microbeads as food. This can poison them and even clog their digestive tracts.
- These toxins are carried through the food chain, even up to the point of human consumption.
Here’s the main thing: MICROBEADS AREN’T NECESSARY!
It seems like the most ludicrous thing that we’re willingly scrubbing plastic into our faces that we know to be toxic for human health and passing those consequences onto the natural ecosystems outside. Who can we blame for coming up with this stupid idea?
The reality is, there are many perfect natural alternatives that do a FAR better, job of exfoliating your skin without the harmful consequences. The result? Soft, supple and smooth skin worthy of a baby’s bum.
Here are my favourite natural skin exfoliaters:
Used Coffee Grounds
Used Coffee grounds have so many uses it’s a shame with the amount of coffee we drink, so much of it gets thrown into land fill. It makes for an invigorating body scrub. Just massage into your skin for a few seconds and rinse off in the shower.
While I avoid eating too much refined sugar, it makes for a great facial scrub! Add a few drops of water to a half teaspoon of sugar in your hand, and gently massage your face. Then wash off. Don’t use the large raw sugar crystals though as they tend to be too large and harsh to work with.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Although the texture wouldn’t lead you to think that it has exfoliating potential, Apple Cider Vinegar actually works as a fantastic tonic alongside the above mentioned scrubs. Make sure you dilute it to a ratio of at 1:3 with water. You can then apply a moisturizer on top.
Clay masks are fantastic. They help draw out impurities from your skin and work a treat to leave you feeling fresh and clean. Just don’t buy ones that have a host of other ingredients listed. Buy pure, unadulterated clay that you can mix yourself, like this one.
What are your favourite exfoliating ingredients?
For more information, you can jump to the Beat the Microbead website.
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