Let’s talk microbeads

We all have our little secrets. You know those things that you really enjoy doing when no one is looking or those things that if the world knew that you did or enjoyed, you might get a raised eyebrow. I admit that I am a natural body care/simple lifestyle advocate but yes, I do enjoy the zen feeling from an exfoliating facial scrub several times a week. There is just something about the smell, the scrub scrub feel and the circular motions of my hands on my face. Actually, those pleasures were quite guilt free since I believed that by using a product that was citrus and soy based, I was being very environmentally friendly. So, imagine my shock when a student gave a presentation in one of my classes in which she discussed the dangers of microbeads and how California (not surprisingly) and New York (surprisingly) are on the forefront of forcing cosmetic industries via policies and legislation to come up with an alternative scrubber for their body and facial products.

What are microbeads and why the furor, you wonder? Microbeads are generally micro particle polyethylene beads which are about 1mm or less in diameter that are designed to simply wash down our sewer system. The problem really is that the washed dirty products still with our beads eventually leads to our waterways and these beads are eaten by fish and other marine animals which creates a problem with their DNA structure; these marine animals are eaten by humans or birds and this eventually gets into our system. There is a belief that the continuous use of microbeads product beyond being an environmental hazard might lead to endocrine , birth defect and cancer in humans.
Many cosmetic companies are in the works to phase out microbeads in the next couple of years but that does not mean that we do nothing as we wait for them to do what they need to do. There are alternatives that have been used by other societies for ages that do not harm us or the environment and they are:
a) Salt. Sea salt or regular salt mixed with coconut or olive oil will definitely give the scrub that you want.
b) Sugar : mixing brown or even regular sugar with coconut or olive oil will work as a scrub.
c)Coffee: Since I am anti coffee but I love the smell, using coffee as an alternative for skin care is a way of having a dual product at home which can be served to guests and used as a scrub.. I am a fan of products that have multiple uses. You can use coffee grounds or ground coffee.
d)Baking soda: for 99 cents per pop, you have an exfoliate that can last months. Unfortunately, I have read mixed reviews on this product, some cite the high alkalinity of the product as being one that will eventually wear down the skin barrier and lead to dry skin or skin eruptions. But, then there are others even dermatologists that swear by this product. As you know, baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate.
e) Clay: I could go on and on about clay but this has been used for centuries in different societies. There are different types of clay out there, so just read up and use the one that is best for you.
f) St.Ives. – You know them. Well, they stayed away from the plastic pull of the world of microbeads and they have some great products.
g) Oatmeal, crushed walnut shells, crushed rice particles : These are also alternatives to microbeads.