Exfoliating your face and body is a great way of getting rid of dead skin, cleaning out pores and making things like shaving a lot easier. But some products that use miniature microbeads inside of their cleansers to help scrub skin can pose a serious threat to the environment. Though certain brands will use microbeads that dissolve in the shower when used, others utilize tiny, plastic spheres that will eventually wind up in the ocean or other surrounding bodies of water where they can create a lot of problems.
For a while now, many local legislatures have been trying to put bills into law that ban the sale of microbeads inside all products, especially those sold by bigger brands. Up until now, these bills have only gotten recognition on state level, but gained national recognition this month when the Senate passed a bill banning the use and sale of plastic microbeads on December 18. According to The Hill, the bill was swiftly passed through the House of Representatives after being introduced, and was unanimously approved in the Senate. Yesterday, however, proved to be the final mark of approval for this bill, as president Obama signed the Microbead-Free Water Act of 2015 into law.
As a result, major manufacturers like Crest or Neutrogena who use plastic exfoliating beads in their products will have to change the formulas and reconsider how to add the exfoliating element. Refinery29 says that phasing out of microbeads will likely begin in 2018, but we have yet to know what this will mean for our products in the immediate future.
Why are microbeads so threatening in the first place? According to the organization, Plastic Free Seas, when we use products with microbeads in the shower, they eventually run down the drain and get filtered out of our water by waste water management plants. From there, the microscopic pieces of plastic get flushed into the nearest body of water, where they potentially add that water system's food chain. On top of possibly being consumed by the fish living in the area, they also contribute to larger piles of plastic contaminating those ecosystems. And because these pieces of plastic are toxic, they are hazardous to the health of wildlife.
All for some little beads in our favorite face wash.
What do you think about the official banning of microbeads in beauty and healthcare products? Sound off in the comments below!