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What's In your Skincare? The Microbeads Edition

Illinois recently banned cosmetics that use microbeads as an exfoliant after studies found billions of them flowing into the Great Lakes and other water bodies. New York, California and Ohio are also considering similar legislature.

What are these microbeads?

Microbeads are miniscule plastic spheres made of polyethylene, polypropylene, PET and nylon. They are popular in facial and body scrubs targeted especially towards people with sensitive skin, toothpastes and other products that promise gentle exfoliation. Though they do the job, the problem arises when they get washed down the drain after. Given their size, they do not get filtered through the sewage treatment process and end up in the local waters before finding their way to our seas and oceans. Marine creatures are unable to differentiate between these beads and their food and consume them indiscriminately. Their effect on the health of these animals and the suffocation of the water ecosystem by this plastic soup has caused them to become a major environmental hazard.

What can you do about this? As always, be aware of the products you buy, check the description and ingredient lists on toothpastes and all scrubs to see what the company uses as its exfoliant of choice. Avoid using products that list microbeads or any of the chemicals listed above which could indicate their presence.

For our part, The Owl uses only sugar crystals in various sizes as the exfoliant in our scrubs. This gives us an effective and gentle scrub that has worked well with people identifying with different skin types, including sensitive. We regularly get emails from our customers who are happy to make the switch from microbeads to biodegradable alternatives. As always, thank you for your support and we are so happy to play a role, however small, in this shift.

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