Microbeads Alternative

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic often used as exfoliants in personal care and cosmetic products such as facial scrubs and cleansers.

They are now banned in the UK and must be phased out by the end of 2017.

Is there a natural skin care alternative?

You might not be a fully fledged eco-warrior, but like most people, you probably like to do your bit. You sort through your rubbish to recycle, you put litter in the bin, you reuse containers and upcycle where possible.

However, there’s a new worry according to the news – microbeads. We now understand they’re the new baddy, but how do you know if you’ve got any and what are you meant to do with them?

In a nutshell, they’re in numerous products. No doubt you’re aware of the news that they’re not so great for the environment. There’s a lot of information out there on microbeads, however I’ve decided to expand somewhat on the bits and bobs you may not know the answers to.

So here’s what I’m going to cover:

What are microbeads?

Why are they so popular in products?

Are they really that bad?

What else is a good alternative?

How do I know if my products at home contain microbeads?

Is it ok to throw away any products I have at home with microbeads in?

It’s time to stop polluting our rivers, seas and oceans.

What are microbeads?

Microbeads are really tiny plastic particles usually smaller than two millimeters.  The composition of microbeads can vary and often include polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethlyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon. Bottom line, they’re all plastic.

Why are they so popular in products?

Microbeads are a cosmetic company’s dream as they’re cheap and cheerful and certainly work in rubbing off dead skin cells with their gritty feel.

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of facial exfoliants as they can be a little harsh to the skin. I’m all for removing dead skin cells, but it’s a fine line between removing just the top layer of dead cells to removing too much and causing skin soreness. My advice is to exfoliate the body one a week and stick to a non-drying oil based cleanser and a micro fibre facial cloth for the face for daily exfpliation.

Are they really that bad?

Microbeads may be small, but they cause enormous problems for the environment and our health. These tiny pieces of plastic are designed to go down the drain and should be filtered by the water filtration system. In reality due to their size they end up in our lakes, rivers, and seas. They absorb toxins in the water, are eaten by marine life, and can make their way up the food chain all the way to our dinner plates.

What else is a good alternative?

Natural alternatives to microbeads (particularly for the body) include:

  • Brown sugar

  • Coffee

  • Oatmeal

  • Baking soda

  • Salt

How do I know if my products at home contain microbeads?

Below is a link to the most comprehensive list I could find. The article ‘Microplastics: which beauty brands are safe to use?’ is from the Guardian (April 2016)  and lists an A-Z guide of brands without microbeads.


Is it ok to throw away any products I have at home with microbeads in?

Firstly, do not put them down the drain as you’re then back to the original problem of the micobeads entering rivers, lakes and seas.

Environmentalists suggest the best option is to throw the product away so it goes to a landfill, which is better than it ending up in the waterways.

If you fancy pushing the eco warrior bit a little further, how about sending this completed letter to the manufacturer? Please feel free to copy and paste it. 


[BRAND ADDRESS DETAILS]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           





Ref: Returning [ENTER PRODUCT NAME] in light of microplastic ingredients

Over the past 12 months, I have been closely following the growing, international media coverage of microplastic use in personal care products.

Shocked by this unsustainable and unnecessary use of plastic, I am committed to avoiding the use of products containing solid, non-biodegradable plastic ingredients[1] in support of the ‘Beat the Microbead’[2] campaign.

It is for this reason and with regret that I must return this product [ENTER PRODUCT NAME] to you for correct disposal. I do not wish to contribute to the Plastic Soup effect of the oceans and therefore, once I realised that this product contained microplastics, I stopped its use altogether.

I would be very interested to receive information from [ENTER BRAND NAME] explaining your plans to phase out the use of plastic ingredients so that I can start buying [ENTER PRODUCT NAME] again.

Similarly, you might like to contact the organisations behind the ‘Beat the Microbead’ campaign with details of your commitment so that they can ensure you receive commendation for taking positive action to curb marine microplastic pollution.


Yours Sincerely,


Concerned Consumer


[1] Plastic ingredients that I am looking out for include Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon.

[2] www.beatthemicrobead.org


Hopefully, this blog has answered some of the questions you may have had and indeed it’s wonderful news that the UK government is to ban microbeads by the end of 2017.

Oh, just to confirm INSKIN NAKED products never ever contain microbeads. This is the INSKIN NAKED Cleanser alternative. 



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