Coming in 2017: A Ban on Microbeads

The beauty industry has choked our waterways with microbeads—the incredibly destructive, too­-tiny-­to-­filter balls of plastic that add grit to face and body scrubs, acne treatments, toothpastes, and more—for years, despite the fact that there are no safe levels for microscopic plastic in water, period. Finally, Congress has banned them, starting in January 2017.

Besides accumulating in and stunting the growth of fish (Henry Henderson, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Midwest office told the New York Times that dissected fish from the Great Lakes are “festooned with microbeads”) the beads go right on up the food chain to humans; even worse, they attract toxins like PCBs, so they function as a stealth toxin­ delivery­ system to living things.
We reported on the problem last year, urging our readers to sign a Ban the Bead petition from 5Gyres; last month, it became the law. While we’re waiting for corporations to be forced to make microbead­free products (Proctor and Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Whole Foods and others have already phased them out, but many outliers remain), throw out (don’t use in water or flush) items made with them: Look for ingredients like propelene and polyethelene, a.k.a….plastic.

In their stead, the goop clean beauty shop is packed with brilliant exfoliants for both face and body that sweep away dead skin cells, allowing moisture and nutrients in, smoothing and refining skin texture, and leaving you with a glowing complexion—not to mention a free conscience. At right, a few of our favorites: