As one of the first acts of legislation in 2016, President Obama signed a bill that bans the sale and distribution of cosmetics with microbeads. The small plastic particles that are often found in exfoliating scrubs and toothpastes will be phased out of manufacturing by July 2017. In the past few years, the argument against microbeads has been gaining traction as published studies named microbeads as environmental pollutants.
The Problem with Microbeads
Visible to the naked eye, a microbead is defined as any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters in diameter. Specifically used to exfoliate and cleanse, microbeads are designed to be washed off faces and washed down drains. Since these beads are plastic, they do not dissolve or compost in the environment, causing them to build up in natural bodies of water. Refinery29 reported that 5Gyres, an organization at the forefront of the microbead movement, “found 43,000 particles per square kilometer, or about 107,500 particles per square mile” polluting the Great Lakes. On a larger scale, “8 billion… microbeads pollute aquatic habitats daily, which rounds out to approximately 2.9 trillion per year.” These astonishing numbers are troubling as these plastic particles pose a threat to wildlife that mistake the particles for food, and subsequently absorb the chemicals and toxins produced by the beads.
Brighter Skin (and Future) Ahead
On the bright side, microbeads are not the only way to exfoliate and reveal brighter and smoother skin! There are plenty of alternatives that help to renew and retexture skin.
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Considered to be physical exfoliators, microbeads remove dead skin through friction and abrasion, but due to their plastic composition, they don’t dissolve in water. If you enjoy the sensation of a physical exfoliator, there powder cleansers like Dr. Oracle’s The Snow Queen Enzyme Powder Wash let you control the amount of exfoliation you want out of the cleanser. The unique powder dissolves into a foaming cleanser upon contact with water. To exfoliate, add only a few drops of water to the powder to maintain the powder texture. Unmelted powder will gently scrub away dead skin cells. Unlike microbeads, the powder readily dissolves into water, so any leftover particles will wash away.
Besides physical exfoliation, there is also chemical exfoliation. Gentle acids and enzymes eat away at dead skin cells and clean out pores. An easy, time-saving option is the splash mask. In 15 seconds, this innovative in-shower treatment made of smoothing ingredients such as lactic acid, leaves skin instantly more radiant and softer. For more details on the splash mask, check out our how-to post.
For more heavy-duty exfoliating, consider chemical milk peeling treatments. Both treatments chemically exfoliate while also replenishing skin’s moisture and nutrition. Large cotton swabs drenched in Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) solutions clean and retexture skin. If the drying effects of exfoliation are a concern, then the aqua peel is for you. We recommend the REME G+ 3-in-1 Aqua Peeler Kit which condenses the process into three easy steps: exfoliate with an AHA swab, replenish with a serum, and hydrate with a sheet mask. If you’re looking to strengthen and nourish skin after exfoliation, then the milk peel is for you. Primary Raw’s 2-Step Milk Peeling Kit features an applicator saturated with a lactic acid liquid to gently exfoliate, followed by a soothing and nutritious soy milk sheet mask.
The start of 2016 is the perfect time to bid microbeads goodbye and make way for new, innovative ways to exfoliate!
Get your glow on,
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