Article - Saving our seas from the microbeads in face and body scrubs

Saving our seas from the microbeads in face and body scrubs

Microbeads are tiny little plastic beads that are added to products like body washes, cleansers and facial scrubs, to help exfoliate your skin. The problem is that after they’re rinsed off, they go down the drain and into our waste water systems or septic tanks and eventually into our rivers and seas where they can be ingested by fish and other marine life.

Yes we know, it might sound crazy, yet these polyethylene beads are being used in more and more products and it’s surprising to see many people are unaware of them.

Look out for polyethylene in the ingredients list

What can you do?
Check product labels for plastic content and refuse to purchase them. Plastic mocro beads will be listed as either ‘polyethylene’ or ‘polypropylene’ in the ingredients list.

Useful links:

The 5 Gyres institute have started a campaign called Beat the Micro Bead with some great information and tips on their site here:

A list of products that contain micro beads can be found on the Plastic Free Seas website here:

Image credit: 5 Gyres institute


Enhanced by Zemanta

  • Tags: 
  • No tags were found

Comments | 8

  • photo
    Hi. I know this article is old but I have recently read about the microbeads starving our marine life. I looked into the acrylates/styrene copolymers and found these too are a problem :-( Check out this factsheet which lists plastics in products. Search UNEP plastics in cosmetics. The PDF file is helpful.
    By Karen on Wed May 11, 2016
  • photo
    Acrylates copolymer IS a plastic, NO it is not safe for the environment. Check out:
    By Sarah on Mon April 25, 2016
  • photo
    I've done some research and it turns out that acrylates copolymer isn't considered a micro bead on any of the sites... It looks like it's safe for the environment. beatthebead hasn't listed it as a problem, and it's not said to be the problem in any of its products listed with microbeads smile Luckily I can use my Irish spring body wash just fine (It has acrylates copolymer, a couple of salts and apricot seed powder instead)

    I hope this was helpful!

    By Wes on Thu October 01, 2015
  • photo
    Great detective work Suzy! It's incredible how such a pollutant could be undisclosed in these body care products.
    By Melanie Rands on Fri July 25, 2014
  • photo
    Just looked at my (Unilever) Radox shower gel. No microbeads mentioned anywhere I can see on the packaging, although it does have some nice exfoliating lumpy bits ... and the ingredients list says it contains "acrylates copolymer" (in greater quantities than any of the smelly bits mentioned in the blurb) ... and according to google/wiki "acrylates copolymer": "belong to a group of polymers which could be referred to generally as plastics".
    By Suzy on Fri July 11, 2014
  • photo
    Great post here on the micro beads in beauty products.
    I read an article on this years ago, and since have been very conscious on buying product WITHOUT these added. It's very important also that my products are NOT tested on animals. Just two choices I make when buying products.
    It's amazing also the packaging we purchase from supermarkets, to then throw away in the bin on an everyday basis - bacon and meat trays, salami packaging, bottles, and plastic yoghurt containers, cheese wrappers, block cheese wrappers etc etc etc.
    Every little bit counts!
    By Vanessa Lomax on Fri March 21, 2014
  • photo
    Thanks Laura, that will be listed as polyethylene or polypropylene in the ingredients list of exfoliating products like face and body scrubs.
    By Melanie Rands on Tue March 11, 2014
  • photo
    Hi there,

    Great post on microbeads - the only thing i would suggest is you mentioned watch out for plastic content - but what might that be listed as?

    Thanks again,
    By Laura Mascelle on Fri March 07, 2014

Leave a comment on this article