What’s the Deal with Microbeads?

Microbeads and why you should know about them…now.


The issue of microbeads is a huge deal- seriously. I’ve been meaning to start working on a blog post series dedicated to talking about the importance of knowing what ingredients are in your beauty products, and the recent talk about microbeads in the media (none of it is any good) has propelled me to start now with this post to help clear the air a little bit of all the drama.


Microbeads are the tiny fun colored plastic beads in facial scrubs, exfoliators, soap, and toothpastes. I completely get their appeal- something about little beads makes everything seem better. You choose to buy the products with microbeads for no particular reason other than that they look cute and give you the impression that you are happily exfoliating your face…WRONG (sorry bud).


Microbeads- the tiny little buggers- are causing a lot of serious damage and causing everyone to freak out a little. It is estimated that a single exfoliating facial cleanser contains 360,000 microbeads- woah.


Here’s the deal- microbeads are designed to wash off down the drain after use, but our water treatment facilities aren’t equipped to filter them out and they wind up accumulating in our rivers and oceans (as if we don’t have enough plastic in there already). These beads also aren’t biodegradable and some can float around for centuries. A study from the University of Wisconsin found that the Great Lakes contain up to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile— what. Microbeads are especially dangerous to marine life because of their small size- fish and other animals gobble them up, mistaking them for food… so not okay. And, thanks to the food chain, microbeads could end up in our bellies.


Also- not only is there the environmental issue, but isn’t there something concerning about the idea of rubbing plastic on your face? Yeah, thought so. Rubbing microbeads on your skin actually create tiny abrasions on your face, which to me is slightly terrifying.


States like Illinois, New Jersey and California are leading the pack here (whoop) and are signing legislation to ban the sale of cosmetics containing microbeads. Hopefully more states will follow.


Microbead-free goodness in a bottle

But you can do something about it too. (Hint, hint: ditch the products containing microbeads and instead support sustainable skincare.) Guys, there are a ton of alternatives! @ willa, we are really into jojoba beads, which can be found in Step One of our Acne 3 Step- the Clear Skin Exfoliating Cleanser… it rocks, and allows you to gently remove dirt and excess oils without hurting the environment and your skin. #Ban the Bead, and scrub up gals.



(Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock)


TAGS: exfoliator, microbeads, pollution, skincare