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This is the ingredient you should avoid in all of your personal care products

by , 21 September 2015

It's official… Plastic microbeads in skin-care and beauty products are definitely bad for the environment. They're the tiny particles used in many personal care products, usually to give it the "scrubby" feel.

Before you do your next toiletry shop, let me teach you about the ingredient you should avoid in personal care products like soaps, shower gels, toothpaste and so on…

The labels that plastic microbeads hide behind on products

According to the community activist collective Story Of Stuff, plastic microbeads are usually listed on the product label under these names:
polyethylene
polypropylene
polyethylene terephthalate
polymethyl methacrylate
 

What makes plastic microbeads so bad for the environment

Sure, you may like the way they feel on your skin, but since they're so small, they're easily washed down drains into water systems and oceans where they're eaten by fish and other marine creatures. The food chain being what it is, it's only a matter of time until they're back in (and not just on) our own bodies.
 
In New York State alone, an estimated 19 tons of plastic microbeads get washed into waterways each year. Even corals in Australia’s remote Great Barrier Reef are affected by microplastics, starving to death after ingesting tiny bits because their digestive systems are blocked.

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What's worse, small pieces of plastic traveling through rivers and oceans act like sponges, attracting toxic chemicals from seawater and concentrating them. These chemicals — called persistent organic pollutants or POPs — are long-term toxins that can build up in the bodies of marine animals that inadvertently swallow microbeads and other plastics.
 
According to environmental group 5 Gyres, a single plastic microbead in the ocean can be a million times more toxic than the waters around it. POPs can then be passed along the marine food chain and eventually into our own food sources. That krill oil you’ve been taking to up your omega-3s? It probably contains POPs.
 

How you can avoid products that contain plastic microbeads

The good news here is that it's incredibly easy to avoid microbeads in your cosmetics. Opt for a product — or a homemade version! — that contains one of the natural exfoliants mentioned earlier. Not only will this help you do your part to protect the Earth, natural ingredients also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that aren't found in a petroleum-based bead.
 
And if all else fails, there is one more option for sloughing away dead skin: A good, old-fashioned washcloth.
 

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