While the news that the UK government has finally agreed to ban the use of microbeads in beauty products, effective from the 1st of January 2018, is undoubtedly welcome, it has come with caveats. First, before that date, brands are still able to manufacture and sell any products containing microbeads which, in the words of Michael Gove, ‘are causing a level of pollution in our seas, rivers and oceans that we need to stop.’
Second, while the plastic beads will be removed from wash-off products, they won’t be taken out of make-up, where they (surprisingly) abound to add bulk or to bind pigments. That said, the amount of plastic washed off an eye that’s, say, covered in long-wear eyeshadow containing it, is far less and therefore clearly a less pressing issue.
The problem with plastics in the first place? While they’re handy exfoliating agents that you’ll find in everything from scrubs to your toothpaste, they’re too small for water treatment plants to effectively filter them, meaning they end up in the oceans, where they cause damage to fish and other marine life.
Want to know if your products contain microbeads so that you can steer clear before the ban comes into effect? Microbeads appear on packaging under their chemical names, so keep an eye out for polyethylene, polypropylene, and polymethylmethacrylate, and nylon. And if you want to be doubly sure, just buy one of these - they’re all microbead-free and brilliant.
1. Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, £21
Containing environmentally-friendly silica microspheres, and skin-friendly moringa oil and orange, this makes for an ideal second or morning cleanse, and will leave skin feeling gently exfoliated - not tight or stripped.
2. OPTIAT Feel Great Coffee Scrub, £9.99
The acronym stands for ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure;’ this brand takes coffee granules and turns them into mega-effective scrubs that - bonus - smell amazing.
3. Ila Beyond Organic Face Scrub for Glowing Radiance, £38
If organic is your thing, make a beeline for this scrub, which contains blackcurrant and honey to cosset and gently exfoliate, and omegas to help fortify the skin’s barrier.
4. Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion, £41
Good eggs Kiehl’s have weeded microbeads out of all their formulas. This scrub is really satisfyingly scrubby, so remember to go gently, use just a dash, and avoid really delicate areas like your cheeks.
5. Isla Apothecary Blood Orange + Vanilla Moisturising Sugar Scrub, £23
This is the perfect treat to pamper yourself with. Certified organic, containing Shea butter and Vitamin E oils, it melts into the skin turning into a luxurious oil once rubbed in, but without leaving any greasy residue. It’s smells incredible, doesn’t dry the skin out and isn’t messy at all.