Microbeads: What To Know And How To Manage Without Them

This week, the UK banned plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products. Here, we outline what they are, where you'll find them, how to avoid them and the microbead-free products to add to your bathroom cabinet. 

What are they?

Microbeads, or plastic microbeads, are little plastic particles that harm the food chain and marine life.

Where do you find them?

You'll find microbeads lurking in some kinds of toothpaste, shower gels and exfoliating face scrubs - all cosmetics products that you wash down the bathroom sink or shower drain that  make their way into the sewer system.


Why are they bad?

Microbeads may be barely perceptible, and when they wash down your drain and into the sewer, they're too small to be caught in water filtration systems and they find their way to the ocean. Original reporting and scientific research by Orb Media with the Irish Independent, found that we are ingesting microplastics through water (72% of sampled Irish drinking water is contaminated by microplastics) and fish that we eat consume plastics too.

Microbeads are non-biodegradable. Each year, an estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastics enter the ocean, and it's estimated that currently, 150 million metric tonnes circulate in our marine environments. At this rate, by 2050, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish. The Government promised to ban microplastics within a year in 2016. Legislation banning the use and manufacture of microbeads is expected to be passed in the Dáil by the end of the 2018.

How do you avoid microplastics?

The Beat the Bead app scans barcodes on household and cosmetic products, checking whether they contain these harmful plastics. Download the app for your iPhone or Android device.

You can look for the Zero Plastic Inside logo, which means you won't find any microplastics inside your product, or you can take a screengrab of this list of microplastics and check the ingredients in your products yourself.


How do you manage without them?

Very easily! There are loads of gorgeous plastic-free products to cater to your every need. Here are five of our favourite ocean-safe exfoliators and body scrubs.


Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, €58

No matter what your skin type, you need to get your hands on this. Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant is a gentle and light powder formula exfoliator that leaves skin brighter and softer, balances uneven skin pigmentation and a blend of green tea, gingko and oatmeal work hard to calm your skin.



Kinvara Elemental Exfoliating Powder, €34.95

Shout out one time to Kinvara for being the first Irish skincare brand to be recognised for their outright ban on microbeads. Kinvara's gentle exfoliating powder, enriched with beneficial vitamins and marine minerals, refines the skin's texturing, leaving you with brighter skin and the perfect canvas to apply your make-up.

Human + Kind Face Scrub, €14.95

Human + Kind create natural, simple products that are cruelty-free and kind to the environment, so it's no surprise they have a beautiful microbead-free facial scrub that's perfect for the sensitive skinned. Created with cocoa butter, sunflower seed and anti-inflammatory oat kernel and infused with collagen-boosting Centella, this scrub contains cellulose granules which are 100% biodegradable and renewable.



Urban Veda Purifying Body Scrub, €17.99

Urban Veda Purifying Body Scrub, €17.99, is formulated with natural, vegan, Ayurvedic ingredients and it's enriched with antibacterial cold-pressed neem oil, wild mint, cypress, spearmint and eucalyptus. When you get out of the shower, you'll feel relaxed - seriously - and thanks to the wild mint, you will feel your skin breeeeathe. It's the strangest, most cleanly feeling.


Trilogy Exfoliating Body Balm, €32.95


A winner at last year's IMAGE Beauty Awards, Trilogy Exfoliating Body Balm, €32.95, is a certified natural hydrating scrub formulated with sweet almond, rosehip and beeswax to gently buff away your dead skin cells. 

Sign the Uplift petition to ban microbeads from Ireland here. 

Photo by Quentin Lagache on Unsplash.

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