UK has banned the sale of cosmetics that contain small balls of plastic. Those small pieces of plastic, called microbeads, are included into the cosmetics to improve its texture and mainly, to add exfoliation capabilities. Microbeads end up into the rivers and seas affecting our environment. The ban will be applied at the end of 2017This is a measure already applied in the US that has been now approved in the UK after 357,000 people signed a petition for the UK ban. US authorities reported that this material is now found in great quantities on fishes, seabird. It is also reported that a great accumulation of this substance is now found easily in lakes.
Leaving aside the environmental considerations which cannot be addressed correctly by us, we will like to give you 5 cents from a beauty perspective.
Where microbeads can be found?
Microbeads are mainly found on cosmetics products like scrubs and peelings where are a key component to provide physical exfoliation properties. Even that scrubs and peelings are the main type of products that contain microbeans, it can be found also on toothpaste and shower gels. Here a list of products that contain microbeads.
The previous list was published in the US so some of your cosmetics may not be included. To identify other products that contain microbeads you should look at its ingredients. If the product you are checking has any of the following ingredients is really likely it contain microbeads: polyethylene, polypropylene,polypropylene terphathalate or polymethyl methacrylate.
Why cosmetic producers use microbeads?
There are two main reasons for cosmetic producers to use microbeans. The first one is that the use of plastic is really versatile. Plastic balls can be created with the needed shape to achieve a specific texture or provide mechanical exfoliation properties. The second reason is that natural alternatives to achieve the same effect are usually more expensive.
What are the alternatives?
Well, there are alternatives to use plastic. As alternative of physical exfoliators using microbeads it is easy to find products containing sand, nut shell powder or even pieces or rice, coffee or corn. Another alternative to microbead base exfoliators are acid base ones.
Home made alternatives
The principles of mechanical (or physical) scrubs is quite simple. Dead cells are buffed away by rubbing grainy products on your skin. Another approach is to use tools like brushes to get the same effect.
There are a lot of physical exfoliations that can be created at home with easy to find ingredients like coffee, salt, rice, corn flower… Read this post as example: “DYI Coffee Scrub”.
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