Microbeads. They are everywhere - in our facial products, our lotions, our scrubs, even our toothpaste! So tiny, so obviously not harmful right? Wrong! These tiny little exfoliants are made of plastic, and because they are so small they can very easily get through water treatment plants filtration devices and wind up polluting our water and, in turn, over time doing a lot of damage.
Thankfully, the Story of Stuff Project has been working for years to ban these tiny plastic balls and put an end to the trillions of these little buggers entering our waterways AND has gotten a ban on microbeads of any kind passed in California. So, what does this mean for you?
Well, if you can’t get enough of your microbead-infused product from one of the “big guys”, we’re here to let you in on a little secret…there are some pretty awesome, natural, alternatives to microbeads that will exfoliate to your heart’s desire. Let’s check them out:
For Light Exfoliation
If you’re looking for an exfoliation method that is not harsh, something for a more sensitive skin type, you are going to want something that is soft and rounded. The shape and the feel of the natural exfoliant is very important, especially if you’re not particularly interested in sloughing off layers of dead skin cells! Some good options are whole oats that are preferably finely ground up or straight baking soda which is naturally soft and fine. If your skin is oily, go with the oatmeal as it will also help to absorb excess oil in your skin.
For Mild Exfoliation
On the “let’s do a little more today” days, you’ll want to look for an ingredient that is a little bit tougher but still rounded. This will allow the natural exfoliant to clean a little more off, while still not being too rough on your skin. For some reason, this category is where most of the food-based exfoliants rise to the top. Ground up almond or walnut shells will remain fairly round and smooth, but are harder than an oat so they can remove more dirt and dead skin cells. If you have a nut allergy, jojoba beads are a safe alternative. Many mistake jojoba beads for microbeads, but they are NOT the same. Jojoba beads are a natural exfoliant, derived from jojoba oil and are completely biodegradable as well as renewable, while microbeads are, again, plastic and usually made from harmful polyethylene. Another good choice in the “mild” category is coffee grinds. Again, fairly round and smooth (and you can buy them already ground pretty much anywhere) but with enough strength to do some decent exfoliating.
For Strong Exfoliation
When you’re wanting that “scrape it all off and don’t look back” type of cleanse, a hard and coarsely shaped natural exfoliant is the way to go. These types of scrubs or products should only be used once a week or so, depending on your skin type and sensitivity. You may find that your skin is red or irritated after using a harsher exfoliant. Options in this category are sugars like white cane sugar, brown sugar, or even raw sugar. It can be argued that cane sugar may fall into the previous category for some, but if you were to look at a sugar granule up close you’d see that it is actually coarse, not smooth. This is more evident with your brown and raw sugars. Another contender in the “strong” category is going to be your salts - and here is where you can really have some fun. From sea salt to himalayan to epsom and more, there are not only many varieties of salts (each with their own mineral composition and make-up), but most come in a whole slew of different grains - from extra fine to super coarse. All great options for cleansing and exfoliating naturally!
So there you have it, folks. Now when you’re suddenly faced with a beauty aisle that is microbead-free, you’ll be a step ahead and know exactly what to look for as a natural, safe alternative. Let us know what natural exfoliants you’ve tried, and what your favorites are!