Winter is here, and you know what that means! Red, flaky skin, but of course. You probably know that a good way to get rid of those pesky flakes is a good exfoliation. However, your favorite face scrub may soon be getting a makeover, and for good reason.
Last week, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, and has also been approved by Congress. Now, all it needs is Obama’s signature and we’ll be one step closer to cleaner lakes and oceans and better skin.
Plastic micro beads are used in several personal care products, such as face and body scrubs. Made of polyethylene, they act as an exfoliant in skin care items, but they also add color and texture to toothpaste, lip balms, moisturizing creams, and even makeup. These are the tiny round things in face scrubs that clear out your pores, but they’re also causing some serious damage to the environment.
Here’s the issue: The little pieces of plastic, which can be less than a millimeter in size, are washing off your face and down your drain. From there, they can easily slip through water filtration systems. Because they’re made of plastic, they don’t dissolve. This has caused tens of millions micro beads showing up in our lakes and oceans. The tiny plastic balls are highly toxic to marine environments, as they have the ability to absorb contaminant chemicals in the water.
Additionally, several aquatic animals are mistaking the particles, which look an awful lot like fish eggs, for food and ingesting them. If you like seafood, you could also be eating fish that has ingested the possibly contaminated plastic spheres.
In addition to all of that, the beads may also be detrimental to skin. Scrubs that are too abrasive can cause micro tears in the skin, causing irritation and sensitivity.
Some major companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, have already made the pledge to phase out micro beads in their products. Unilever, who owns Dove, Pond, and Vaseline, completed their phase-out earlier this year.
If you’re unsure if your favorite beauty products contain micro beads, you can view a list of items here. To start making the switch now, opt for face scrubs that have naturally-derived exfoliants, such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), lactic acid, and even sand.
(Images via Shutterstock)