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How to get over your microbead addiction without sacrificing clear skin

Lisa Fogarty

by

Lisa Fogarty

Lisa Fogarty has written numerous articles for USA Today, The Stir, Opposing Views and other publications. She has covered everything from red carpet events to the discovery of toxic PCBs on school windows. She lives on Long Island, N.Y....

Microbeads are bad news — Which personal hygiene products contain them and what to use instead

After years of complaints and concerns from environmentalists and lawmakers that teeny microbeads found in certain soap products were unsafe for both marine wildlife and people, a bill to ban the small plastic parts in personal care products by 2019 passed in the House.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 ensures "any solid plastic particle" less than 5 millimeters in size will no longer be used as an exfoliant in soaps, face washes and, yes, even toothpaste. On July 1, 2017, the first phase will roll out — a ban on manufacturing products that contain the beads. Product-specific manufacturing sales bans will follow in 2018 and 2019.

More: Why you need to ditch products with microbeads for good

The major argument against microbeads is that once they're flushed down the drain and enter our water supply, they bind to toxic substances such as DDT, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls. Fish may eat them. This is disturbing enough, but add to it the fact that we eat seafood and are thereby possibly consuming these microscopic plastic spheres that now contain toxic substances and you can see why this ban was long overdue.

You may be asking yourself, as you run through the house checking all of your soap and beauty products: "Now what?" Are most of us really going to sit on this knowledge and wait until 2017 to chuck out anything we have that contains microbeads? Unlikely.

The problem, of course, is that you want to be super careful about how to dispose of microbeads. You'd never want to pour them down the drain because you'll just add to the toxic bath. The best way to handle these products is to leave it in its container, make sure the lid is secured tight and put it in with the rest of your garbage so that it ends up in the landfill.

More: Microbeads found in beauty products are harmful to the environment

As you can imagine, "microbeads" are likely not going to be spelled out on any product's list of ingredients. When checking labels, look for "polyethylene," "PE," "polystyrene" or "PS." Here are some examples of popular products that contain microbeads and suggestions on what you can use instead (a more comprehensive product list with brands and products that contain microbeads can be found on Beat the Microbead. A list of products that do not contain microbeads is found here).

Facial scrubs

These products contain microbeads:

  • Aveeno Brightening Daily Scrub
  • Axe Scrub with Vitamin C
  • Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub
  • Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Scrub
  • Caudalie Deep Cleansing Exfoliator
  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Daily Scrub
  • Pond's Luminous Clean Daily Exfoliating Cleanser

These products do not contain microbeads:

  • Alpha-H Gentle Daily Exfoliant
  • Origins Never a Dull Moment Skin-Brightening Face Cleanser
  • Boots Skin Clear Ultra Deep Pore Facial Treatment Scrub
  • Botanicals Facial Polish
  • Dermalogica Skin Prep Scrub
  • Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream
  • Burt's Bees Citrus Facial Scrub
  • Korres Wild Rose exfoliating cleanser
  • Lush Angels on Bare Skin
  • Murad Clarifying Cleanser
  • Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub
  • St. Ives Apricot Scrub
  • Yes to Carrots Exfoliating Cleanser

Body washes/scrubs

These products contain microbeads:

  • Bath & Body Works Pure Paradise 2-in-1 Scrub and Wash
  • Ahava Dead Sea Essentials Relaxing Almond Exfoliating Body Cleanser
  • Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Scrub
  • Caress Evenly Gorgeous Exfoliating Body Wash.

These products do not contain microbeads:

  • Lush Sandstone soap (but, honestly, everything by Lush can be your new go-to)
  • Phytomer Seaweed soap
  • Clarins Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate
  • Dove Purely Pampering Bath Cream Pistachio
  • Essential Waitrose Citrus Foam Bath

Toothpaste

These products contain microbeads:

  • Crest Pro-Health Advanced
  • Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh
  • CVS Brilliant White

These products do not contain microbeads:

  • Aquafresh Complete Care
  • Arm & Hammer Advanced White Baking Soda Toothpaste
  • Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste
  • Oral-B 123 Toothpaste.
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