A few weeks ago, we published a post about plastic free showering. Then, we mentioned the issue of plastic microbeads hiden in our shower gels, shampoos and body scrubs. In this post, we are going to explain what these microbeads are, what problem they pose and how to identify and avoid them.

What are microbeads?

Plastic microbeads are very tiny synthetic particles we can find in a lot of personal care products such as facial and body scrubs, toothpastes, hydrating lotions and creams among others. They are mostly made of polyethylene (PE), but also can be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.

What problem do microbeads pose?

There are two main issues linked to the microbeads contained in our cosmetics:

  • First, for the environment. Microbeads are so tiny that they are not retained by the standard filters used at sewage treatment plants and so they travel from our face to the rivers and then to the oceans. The accumulation of these micro plastic particles is one of the causes of the oceans turning into a huge plastic soup.
  • Then, for our health. Microbeads have a huge penetration capacity. This means, according to numorous scientific studies, that our organism accumulate them overtime. Moreover, as they are porous, they are carrying with them, into our body, others substances contained in cosmetic. Also, they affect food chain: fishes mistake them for food and eat them, which means that those plastic microbeads ends up on our plates through the fish.

What can you do to avoid them?

As with all things, it is very important to check the labels when you buy any cosmetic. To avoid microbeads, you may avoid the following ingredients:

  • Polyethylene (PE).
  • Polyethylene Glycol, you can find them as PEG- followed by a number, for exampl PEG-32.
  • Polypropylene (PP).
  • Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

By choosing natural and organic cosmetics and accesories you can be sure you will not use any microbeads. Also, to go further on toxic-free cometics you can find on the Internet a lot of very complete lists of toxic ingredients.

Here are 2 lists we selected for you: