I love a good exfoliation just like the next gal but I recently discovered many facial exfoliators contain teeny tiny plastic micro-beads to get the job done. These small spheres can also be found in shampoos and even toothpaste.While they may leave us clean and shiny, new research suggests they're a pollution nuisance.
And since these "exfoliators" are designed to go down the drain, they inevitably end up in oceans and lakes. Such micro plastics were so pervasive in samples taken from the American great lakes that one researcher declared: "It was like someone had taken an entire bottle of facial cleanser and poured it into our sample container." What's worse, marine life mistakes them for food. Yuck, micro-bead plastic plankton isn't good for marine life or the humans who ingest them.
The good news is that organizations like the 5 Gyres Institute pressured manufacturers to eliminate plastics in their products and they've received pledges from companies like The Body Shop and L'Oreal to phase our their use. But some products won't be micro-bead free for a few years so in the meantime, check to see if your exfoliating cleanser contains polyethylene, which is the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredient name for micro-beads.
A Micro-bead Alternative
If you still want to gently exfoliate try a product like Tata Harper's gorgeous regenerating cleanser which uses apricot kernels to get the job done. Harper produces her products in small batches at her Vermont farm using natural ingredients, some of which she grows on site.
I'd heard of Harper's products for a long time but didn't get to try them until I met her recently at a media event.Of course the Colombian-born mother of three has a perfect complexion and her no nonsense, no synthetic approach to beauty has led her all over the world to source the best ingredients.
Harper's products fall into the luxury category and range in price from $75 for the Regenerating Cleanser to over $200 for the anti-aging products in her new SuperNatural collection. I'm hooked on the Regenerating Cleanser. Wouldn't you rather get your polish and shine from apricot kernels than contribute to the global plastic problem?