Annabella says: Stop using exfoliators that contain plastic microbeads!


Aug 3, 2013 Bath & Body, Beauty Bits, Skincare 18 Comments

What are Microbeads?

They are tiny pieces of plastic usually referred to as polyethylene or polypropylene on the ingredients list.

What are they used for?

They act as an exfoliation agent in facial and body scrubs and are used in some tooth pastes and cleaning products.

Why are they causing a problem?

The tiny pieces of plastic are able to bypass water filtration systems as they are so small so end up in rivers, lakes and oceans. Because they can look like plankton/eggs, fish and other animals are consuming these objects thinking they are food. There are over 300,000 plastic microbeads (equivalent to a tablespoon’s worth) in each tube of face scrub.

So which brands are the culprits?

Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, L’oreal, The Body Shop, and Johnson & Johnson to name a few.

What are the alternatives?

There are tons of natural exfoliators that are already used in products such as sugar, salt, seeds, nut shells and husks. There is no need to use plastics for exfoliation!

I personally have always gone for natural exfoliators because it doesn’t make sense to use plastic to wash your face. As we know there are already an abundance of chemicals swirling around in our water supply and these little beads of plastic just add to an already huge problem. Unilever along with other brands have already committed to stopping the use of plastic microbeads in their personal care products by 2015. The Plastic Soup Foundation of Europe is trying to get other personal care product manufacturers large and small to follow suit.

You can read more information about the campaign on the link below and the sign petition asking these companies to ban the use of microbeads!

click here to sign the petition to ban plastic microbeads in our products


  • Sam
    Aug 3, 2013 at 11:51 am Reply

    Oh wow I didn’t realise brands used plastic! That’s awful. Luckily I only use natural. Poor fish :(

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm Reply

      I was only aware of this because the picture of the facial scrub in the blog post is from Wilma Schumman European Skincare a brand a while back. Their are bits of plastic in their scrub which I thought was strange. I hadn’t realised that this was a common thing!

  • Rachel
    Aug 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm Reply

    Yes, this is awful for the fish. But just to make a point- natural exfoliants -( shells, seeds etc) they are harsh for facial skin and actually damage the skins tissue, this effects skin moisture barrier creating flakey skin. So a chemical scub would be best – clinique’s clarifying lotion would be the perfect example of a win win situation.

    1. TimTomTabby
      Aug 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm Reply

      Saying that a ‘chemical scrub’ is as effective as some form of physical abrasion is a bit like saying using mouthwash is as good as brushing / flossing. An oatmeal scrub is certainly less abrasive than plastic beads in my experience.

      1. Annabella SkinScrubs
        Aug 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm Reply

        Hi Tom – You are right oatmeal is great exfoliant too and like I said to Rachel I think any over zealous scrubbing can lead to problems. I prefer manual exfoliation like yourself but others swear by chemical exfoliation. To each his/her own as long as we stop scrubbing our faces with plastic! :D

    2. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm Reply

      Hi Rachel – I understand what you are saying any over exfoliation can damage the skin. However at least they don’t mess with the eco system. I have found chemical exfoliants to be too harsh for my skin so I think it’s a matter of finding a balance to what works for you.

      Thanks for your comment xoxo

  • pheart
    Aug 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm Reply

    How do you know if your exfoliator has plastic beads? Will it say on the packaging, do these companies make it clear to consumers that they are using plastic beads?

    I think Avon might be another culprit, as i remember having a facial scrub with beads and i can’t imagine that they were natural!

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm Reply

      Hi Pheart – It is commonly referred to as polyethylene or polypropylene on the ingredients and I’ve seen some brands say ‘microbeads’ on the front of the label so you can only assume it’s plastic! I hope that helps and thanks for stopping by! xoxo

  • Coleta
    Aug 3, 2013 at 10:33 pm Reply

    So we wash our faces with these tiny pieces of plastic, then the fish eat it and we turn around and eat the fish! Mankind is surely destroying the earth. I’ve been making my own homemade exfoliators for awhile and haven’t used any commercial products recently, but when I do I am going to make sure I check the label for this ingredient. Thanks for bringing this to the fore. I’m going to sign the petition.

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm Reply

      Hi Coleta – Yes what goes around comes around for sure! I’d love to know who thought it would be a good idea to use plastic that will never die instead of something natural. I can only imagine that they thought using beads would be more gentle? Or maybe it’s cheaper to use plastic than rice or seeds. We’ll never know!

      Thanks for your comment xoxo

  • Marilina
    Aug 4, 2013 at 5:00 am Reply

    Wow! Thanks for the info on this! I wouldn’t even imagine companies using plastic beads on exfoliators…! I shared the link you posted..we have to warn everyone!

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm Reply

      Well I’m surprised and not surprised at the same time and like I said to Coleta you have to wonder why companies would use plastic instead of natural ingredients that are already in abundance and proven anyway?

      Thanks for stopping by hun! :D

  • Ged from The Ged Lab
    Aug 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm Reply

    Great post! Those plastic beads can be really hardcore as I discovered a few years ago so now I always check the ingredients list when it comes to exfoliators. The best one I used so far is by Baxter of California – really good for men’s skin! :-) – A blog for the modern man

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 8, 2013 at 8:32 am Reply

      Thanks for that Ged, I’ll let my husband know about Baxter of California. Mankind always has a 20% off voucher somewhere on the web!


  • AdvancedAcne
    Aug 11, 2013 at 4:42 am Reply

    Do you suggest any natural exfoliators for acne treatment products?

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm Reply

      Hello – I would always suggest that someone with acne speak to their doctor or dermatologist about what products to use. Some exfoliators could scratch the face and make it worse.

  • Briamagee
    Aug 20, 2013 at 7:02 am Reply

    I’m caught unaware of this! Good that you have brought this up to inform everyone. Well, I always love to use products that contains natural ingredients. And of course I have always been very keen choosing products to use for my skin.

    1. Annabella SkinScrubs
      Aug 21, 2013 at 8:33 am Reply

      I think most people will be unaware of the microbead situation as I was! I stopped using drug-store brands ages ago though and they are the worst culprits. Pass the word on if you can it would be a great help!


Leave a Reply