By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | May 6, 2008
So, you’ve heard of those “microbead” facial and body scrubs? Ever wonder what the microbeads are made of? As it turns out, they’re actually tiny balls of polyethylene plastic:
From Orion Magazine: “[PhD student Mark Browne] selects a peach-colored tube of St. Ives Apricot Scrub; its label reads: 100% natural exfoliants. “This stuff is okay. The granules are actually chunks of ground-up jojoba seeds and walnut shells.” Other natural brands use grape seeds, apricot hulls, coarse sugar, or sea salt. “The rest of them,” he says, with a sweep of his hand, “have all gone to plastic.”
On each, listed among the ingredients are “micro-fine polyethylene granules,” or “polyethylene micro-spheres,” or “polyethylene beads.” Or just polyethylene.
“Can you believe it?” Richard Thompson demands of no one in particular, loud enough that faces bent over microscopes rise to look at him. “They’re selling plastic meant to go right down the drain, into the sewers, into the rivers, right into the ocean. Bite-sized pieces of plastic to be swallowed by little sea creatures.”
Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish lists some of the popular brands which contain these beads (and provides a Drugstore.com link to their full list of products containing polyethylene):
- Dove Gentle Exfoliating Foaming Facial Cleanser
- Nivea face scrub
- Aveeno daily scrub
- Neutrogena Body Clear body scrub
- L’Oreal Pure Zone Pore Unclogging Scrub Cleanser
- Ambi Even & Clear Skincare, Exfoliating Wash
- Clean & Clear Oil-Free Daily Pore Cleanser
- Phisoderm Nurturing Facial Polish
- Garnier Nutritioniste Nuti-Pure Microbead Cream Scrub
So, moral of the story? Look for scrubs which contain absolutely natural and identifiable ingredients, or make your own for a fraction of the cost (scroll down this page to find a thorough listing of scrub recipes, and read about how Allie switched to using baking soda as a scrub).
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