Pollution and Micro Beads in Cosmetics

Tuesday, 3 March 2015  |  Admin

Did you see The One Show on TV in the UK this evening?  There was a piece on micro plastics in cosmetics - something we've been opposed to for years.  It's why we're so passionate about customers learning more about cosmetic ingredients, so they can truly understand what they're putting on their skin.

Sadly micro beads (sometimes called micro spheres) are found in many commercial cleansers, shower gels, shampoos, toothpastes and exfoliators.  Just think, every time you use a product that contains micro beads that are washed down the sink, they may eventually pollute the world's oceans.  The problem is that micro beads are so tiny, they aren't caught by the filters in sewage works, so are washed into the rivers and eventually into the sea.  The cold water in the oceans prevents micro plastics from degrading, meaning that the amount of pollution is growing all the time.  As The One Show report mentioned, this means that tiny plankton and marine animals are mistakenly eating the tiny plastic particles and slowly plastics are travelling up the food chain. 

If you're worried about this, you should check your product labels for words like "polyethylene", " polypropylene" or just "PE" or "PP" since these are all plastics.  If you care about the environment, we'd suggest that it would be best if you didn't choose products containing these ingredients.  So you may ask, what are the manufacturers doing about this?  Sadly, not enough.  As The One Show pointed out, many large cosmetic companies will take another 2-3 years to re-formulate their exfoliator style products and phase out the use of micro beads.  Why is this?  Well as usual it's down to cost, since micro plastics are far cheaper to use than natural exfoliators like jojoba beads, clays or natural ground biodegradable botanicals.

Rest assured, you will never find micro plastics in any of our Natroma products!

So what can you do next?

  • Stop using products that contain micro beads or spheres.
  • Start reading cosmetics labels, and try to have a better understanding of what you're applying to your skin.
  • Switch to hot cloth cleansing!  We know that we keep promoting the use of muslin cloths, but it's an excellent way to exfoliate everyday without flushing anything nasty down the sink.
  • Start to use products that only contain natural exfoliators instead of plastics.  We'd suggest natural clays as the first choice, since they are much gentler than using ground shells.  Things like ground apricot shells have sharp edges, even when they're tiny particles, and these can scratch the surface of the skin.