Microbeads are small particles of plastic, some variations hardly visible to the naked eye, which are added to thousands of cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world. They can be made from polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon (check the ingredients!). Sometimes they are added to help exfoliation, other times they are simply there for decoration.
Because of their tiny size, they are not able to be filtered by wastewater treatment plants, and therefore flow freely into our rivers and oceans. Here they are eaten or absorbed by sea creatures, and are passed along the marine food chain until they reach our dinner plate. Microbeads are not biodegradable, and are impossible to remove from our oceans once they make their way there.
A single product can contain over 350,000 plastic microbeads. Worse still, as they travel through our waste water system they attract toxic chemicals like pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and other industrial chemicals to their surface, and can become up to a million times more toxic than the water around them.
WHICH PRODUCTS CONTAIN MICROBEADS?
None of the MiSMo range contains microbeads, however they can be found in other brands in exfoliator, face soap, body wash, toothpaste, makeup (to fill your wrinkles with plastic dust – yuck!), lip gloss and nail polish. Many countries are considering bans of products that contain microbeads, and there are a number of online resources devoted to promoting change, where you can search lists of products to find out which contain microbeads and which don’t.
WHAT WE USE INSTEAD
MiSMo Natural Face Exfoliator contains organic rice powder from France, which is a spherical particle that is effective without scratching the skin. It is a gentle exfoliator which can be used daily.
If you are after a deeper exfoliation, choose MiSMo MicroDerm Resurfacing Cream, which contains natural bamboo stem powder (sourced from fast growing, sustainable bamboo trees which are farmed for this use) to provide an effective medium to polish the skin.
Image of Polyethylene Microbeads in Toothpaste by Dantor