Thousands of everyday health and beauty products, like toothpaste and face wash, contain tiny particles of plastic called microbeads; and just lately they’ve had a lot of press

Written  by Ruth MacGilp  


Did you know that the US, Canada and the UK are pledging to ban the use of microbeads in manufactured products because of their catastrophic environmental impact? Due to the tiny particles found in microbeads, these aren’t properly filtered through our sewerage systems. As a result of unintentional consumption they enter the oceans in mass, polluting seawater and causing damage to the lives of sea creatures. Since they are not biodegradable, these microscopic particles exist in our waters infinitely, getting passed up and down the food chain and threatening the health of all life form – humans and animals included.


The use of microbeads is justified by health and beauty brands for exfoliating qualities. You’ll find them in products like face and body scrubs, deep cleansing toothpastes, skin cleansers, face masks, and many spa products. The main benefit of microbeads, other than their ability to create smooth, blemish-free skin and super clean teeth, is that they can easily be rinsed off and washed away without causing blockages. However, our everyday cleansing habits can be detrimental in that we unknowingly wash away millions of microscopic particles as sewage. Eventually this waste water filters into our rivers, lakes and oceans, affecting every stage of the global ecosystem and food chain.


Microbeads is simply a marketing term used by brands. You can find out if a product contains microbeads by checking the ingredients label for ingredients like polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethylmethacrylate – otherwise known as PET, PTFE and PMMA. A brilliant resource for finding out more about microbeads, and checking which brands and products use them is website and app Beat The Microbead. On the bright side, there are many excellent alternatives to these products. Eco-friendly, cruelty-free brands are on the rise, and luckily these are becoming more accessible and affordable to consumers.








You can also make face and body scrubs easily at home from store cupboard essentials. These recipes are perfect for sensitive skin as they contain zero harsh chemicals, using only natural ingredients Here is a simple face and body scrub recipe to get you started. Enjoy!


Cost per batch: £3 – Uses per batch: 25+


2 tbsp Brown Sugar*

Benefits: Gently exfoliates

1 tbsp Coffee grounds*

Benefits: Energises and revitalises

3 tbsp Coconut Oil*

Benefits: Cleanses and moisturises

Optional: 1 tsp Vitamin E Oil*

Benefits: Anti-ageing hero

*Aim for organic options if possible.


Mix together all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon until you whip up a smooth paste. To make the process easier, it helps if the coconut oil is warmed up slightly first. Next, massage into damp skin once or twice a week and rinse off with warm water. Store in an airtight container for continued use