Update 1/15/2013: Unilever announces it will phase out the use of plastic beads in its products! More info here.
We live in a dry, arid climate, which means dry skin during the summer months. Chances are that for many of us, the daily routine of tooth brushing and face washing might also include a little exfoliating. You know, scrubbing with gentle, natural, sweet smelling microbeads. The good news – no dead, dry skin here. The bad news – you could be scrubbing your face (and body) with plastic!
This issue came to my attention thanks to our friends at Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics campaign. They showed an image of the ingredient list on the back of a bottle of “natural daily scrub with microbeads” and I was shocked! The fourth ingredient… polyethylene! That’s right; those microbeads are actually polyethylene pieces of PLASTIC! I went home and checked out my favorite foot scrub and right there in front of my eyes was that word…polyethylene. Not only does it seem “unnatural” to rub your face and body with plastic, but what happens to these little plastic beads when they go down the sink or tub? Do they get filtered, captured and recycled? Absolutely not!
Those innocent looking microbeads end up flowing into local watersheds and out to the ocean! How do we know? Well, 5 Gyres, a reputable research organization focusing primarily on plastic pollution hinted at it in a recent blog post. Just one sample from their study this summer in the Great Lakes contained 600 plastic microbeads!
Now that you are in the know, don’t let the facial cleanser industry pull the wool over your eyes any longer. Check the list of ingredients on everything that you buy, and if you see an exfoliating product that contains polyethylene, don’t buy it!