Thursday, 14 April 2016

Microbeads in products

Photo courtesy of beingcontent.com

Having previously being led to believe that the EU was all over the microbead issue, I've today found out that the exact opposite is the case.
There are currently no plans to ban the use of microbeads in Europe, unlike the USA, where President Obama signed a bill banning microbeads in December 2015. This means that brands that retail in the USA will have to make quick, sweeping changes in production as manufacturing is banned from mid 2017 and the full ban comes into effect two years later. Canada is also banning them.

If you are unaware of microbeads and what they are, there is a wealth of information online but in short they are the tiny plastic beads used in toothpastes and scrubs (face and body) that are basically polluting the waters and messing with our sealife.
In short, we wash them down the drain, they get into our waters and fish/birds/whales/sealife in general mistakenly eat them. We then eat the fish, although the beads of plastic are deemed 'safe' for human consumption. (Erm, ok then?)
Not great for the environment or sealife. And this is why the EU aren't concerned. It's an 'environment' issue, not a 'public health' issue.

Microbeads are proven very safe for topical human contact so obviously for that reason are found in products across all price ranges from Neutrogena (a LOT), Olay and Aveeno to Clarins, Clinique, Kate Somerville, Bliss and Dermalogica , just to name a few. I found over 500 products using a simple search for 'microbeads' and the ingredient names.

US brands will now have to make the switch asap - let's hope they don't stick all their excess 'plastic' stock on a boat to retail in Europe, where apparently, the EU don't mind the damage they do.
I imagine most of it will turn up on the grey market via 3rd party sellers on Amazon/Strawberry.net/eBay etc.

The UK government may not care but I do, and I think you, the consumer, does to. I won't be reviewing anything that contains microbeads on here and I would imagine my fellow bloggers feel the same way.

And for you the customer? The two words you are looking for on packaging are: polyethylene and polypropylene. Avoid. Hit the brands where it hurts. With your wallets.


More info:
www.greenpeace.org.uk
beatthemicrobead.org




*Updated 9pm - Johnson & Johnson contacted me today to reiterate the following:
'In 2013, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies Inc. became one of the first companies to commit to removing polyethylene microbeads from its personal care products globally. Our goal is to remove microbeads from our products globally by the end of 2017, having met our 2015 commitment and now having alternatives available to our consumers. As always, our goal is to choose ingredients that are safe and environmentally sound and provide consumers with a great experience.'


*Updated 15.04.16 - The Body Shop sent this response to reassure their customers.

'In 2014 we made a commitment to replace these ingredients with a naturally-derived alternative during 2015, which we fulfilled. The materials that replace the polyethylene micro beads are either natural or naturally derived and biodegradable.'

50 comments:

  1. Definitely an ingredient I avoid, there's just no need when there are so many environmentally friendly alternatives available! I'm disappointed in the EU here.

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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  2. What about the little beads in Bath and Body Works hand soaps? Or do those break down and dissolve?

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    1. No they don't break down and dissolve, they are the same beads as in everything else....the ingredients list polyethylene as an ingredient.

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  3. I'm so glad you posted this Caroline! My hubby came home with a neutrogena scrub the other day that he was given at work (he manages a drugstore here in Canada) upon looking at it, we both commented that we were shocked it had microbeads in it, thinking they were already long gone from our shelves. As a blogger, I've long since bought a product or accepted a pr sample with anything that has microbeads in it.
    Kudos to you for keeping afloat on the situation so your readers can be better informed!

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  4. Hi from Memphis! I'm relatively new to your blog/YouTube/Instagram, and so appreciate all the information you provide- THANK YOU! Have you ever done a post where you cumulatively list all the "bad" ingredients that you recommend that we avoid? It would be so helpful when shopping for new products or evaluating product recs? I feel like I'm trying to read Mandarin when reading ingredient lists. Thank you in advance for your time!

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  5. I so respect anyone taking a stand to remove support from ethically questionable products, as you said it hurts these companies precisely in a way so they will pay attention. I especially respect the stance coming from you, someone who works within an industry which relies on it and in which making a stance is often frowned upon!

    What really irks me is people saying that there are no cosmetically elegant alternatives that give you a smooth and gentle polish... jojoba wax beads exist and I'm sure that fact is being ignored to suit some nice profit margins, particularly by the "luxury" brands.

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    1. Oatmeal and ground nuts are also natural alternatives to these darn things. I am so surprised that the EU isn't even considering banning them, especially as they seem to ban everything else (I have vacuum cleaner issues!). Netherlands banned them in 2014, the rest of the EU is very behind the times.

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    2. Hi there, I work as an environmental campaigner in Brussels, and one of the things we work on is trying to get a microbead ban. The EU is very slow moving, but they are definitely beginning to respond to the growing call. They recently released a HUGE study on the prevalence of microbeads, and the options for a ban. Hopefully they will build on this and start making a legislative proposal. In the mean time, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, (maybe) France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have all called for legislation, and are considering their own national bans. But Caroline is right, the most effective thing anyone can do is vote with your wallet and check the ingredients on anything labeled as a 'scrub'. I'm super happy to see this issue raised on my favourite blog :)

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    3. My skin really likes oatmeal too!! How about simple Sugar and Salt? for the body of course, not the face! ;)

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    4. I agree, my favourite body scrub is the Sanctuary Spa salt one, best scrub ever, they also do a hot sugar one. There simply is no need for these plastic beads in anything and I'm disgusted that the EU are not following the USA's example.
      Glad that you are raising this issue Caroline as it's recently been a big discussion between some ladies on a forum I'm a member of.

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  6. Love you even more for posting this. I hope other bloggers do the same and stop reviewing products! Bloggers have such an influence now that them choosing to boycot could make some real change :)

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  7. I keep a list of ingredient no-no's that I screen products through. Most of what's on that list I learned from you & the rest are my personal sensitivities based on my ecperience. Just added microbeads to that list. Thank you for the knowledge you share & all you do!

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  8. Ugh these beads, I've always disliked them! They are harsh on my skin and end up polluting the water and soil, what's the point? Just say NO!

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  9. Oh Caroline. You are marvellous. A-freaking-men to not reviewing microbead products-I won't be either!

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  10. Thank you for making a stand on this.

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  11. No Plans to ban them??? That's outrageous, I've tried to keep these nasty little eco-stuffer-uppers out of my house, but they're surreptitiously stashed in all sorts. However thanks to you I now have armour of the words 'polyethylene' and 'polypropylene'. So let's just not let the blighters in.

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  12. Greenpeace is running a petition to ban them - hope it gains some momentum. I tend to buy supermarket skin care brands, and it's been increasingly difficult to find cleansers for a mature skin that *don't* have them.

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  13. Just signed the GreenPeace petition. Let's hope all readers of the blog do too. Thanks for highlighting the issue Caroline!

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  14. Well said Caroline. Lots of alternatives eg jojoba beads (which I use in my scrubs along with lavender hydrosol, not silly tap water). I loathe anything synthetic, cheap or nasty on my skin be it clothes, potions etc. I'm crazy about nature and wanted to be a nature conservationist when I was knee high - those sort of feelings never go away.

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  15. Thank you for this post: I was too sure that there was a ban planned in the EU too! We all need to be more aware than ever ( and I need to start reading the Inki list of my toothpastes!! )

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  16. A-MEN. I accidentally picked up a Garnier Body Scrub (which was called a "Sugar scrub" FYI so badly labelled for starters) the other day,having fastidiously avoided microbeads for years, and was repulsed to see them in the inci. I was going to take it back to Superdrug but then I just put it straight in the bin instead, thinking it was one less scrub for the poor fishes to deal with.

    There is literally NO excuse for using them in products. Sugar/Salt/jojoba/crushed nut shells are more effective exfoliants in body scrubs in any case (no scrubs on my face - obvs) and don't cause untold environmental damage. SORT IT OUT EU/GB GOV!!!

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  17. I was assuming the EU was dealing with this topic as well, and I am shocked other that isn't the case!

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

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  18. Dear Caroline,
    I've never commented on your blog before, but now is certainly the time. Not only have you saved my skin (forever and ever and ever, I will owe my glow to you), but now you're tapping in on an aspect that I find so gravely important that the entire world should know and act on now: Climate change. And although avoiding microbeads may seem like a small step, if enough people care, then things might actually change. Thank you Caroline, for using your voice to create change where it really matters (although, lets be honest, skincare most often feels like life or death too)
    Best,
    Pernille

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  19. Thank you SO much for bringing this to everyone's attention. I genuinely thought myself that the EU had followed the US's suit and banned them so I'm really grateful that you've corrected that misapprehension. I also wanted to say thank you for drawing attention to whether brands sell in China or not (and so may conduct animal testing 'as required by law'). I know you're not being preachy, just providing information for consumers to make informed decisions and I'm really grateful. You're one of the few bloggers that actually draw attention to these matters. Next stop - do you fancy identifying if a product uses palm oil?

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  20. I need to check, but I think France is planning on banning them... Anyway, personnally I'm not and won't use any product containing beads.
    Thank you for this blog post, I'll make sure - as a customer - that the brands I like who are still using them know my opinion on this. One customer after the other, maybe they'll finally change their strategy there.

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  21. Caroline, this blew my mind! I had no idea I was guilty of polluting the environment in this way! Thanks for informing us. I will, from now on, check for these ingredients and avoid microbeads.

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  22. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm so glad you said exactly what ingredients to look for, it can be hard to tell sometimes because of some packaging. I took a snap of them and will be checking labels before I spend. Hopefully Australia won't be too far behind, although history tells me we will be unfortunately!

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  23. Here's a suggestion, if all readers who care about this leave reviews on websites selling these products stating that they contain microbeads which damage the environment, that might actually make a difference. I know a lot of people rely heavily on online reviews when making purchases e.g. on Boots, Ocado etc.

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  24. These beads completely ruined my skin when I was younger and didn't know much better. Such a shame the EU aren't doing anything to help as I thought they were planning to ban them in products too!

    Avoid at all costs!

    The Beauty Vow

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  25. Love you Caroline for posting this. For caring about the issue and standing up for what you believe in. You are a great role model for all of us.

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  26. Thank you for posting this. Polyethylene beads are indeed a serious environmental hazard. Notice about them had been raised a few years ago here in the U.S. and at that time many, but not all, manufacturers started to voluntarily stop using them. Not sure about the rules or regulations in Japan, but I did notice that Shiseido and Cle de Peau had stop selling the products which contained the beads.

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  27. Oh NO! My favorite Kate Somerville product, ExfoliKate has microbeads in it :-| What now?

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  28. I am so happy you highlighted this! i avoid those plus those shiny pearly beads in lotions and toothpastes too - not good for the fishies!

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  29. Thank you for posting this. I must say I am surprised(but proud) that the US is banning microbeads while the EU has not. Normally you guys are light years ahead of us in many aspects ;) You are a rockstar Caroline, thanks for keeping us informed.

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  30. Thank you for this post! I stopped using products with plastic beads in a while ago. There's just no need when there are alternatives.

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  31. Great post and nice reminder for all of us to not buy this junk! Now if we can also get rid of those styrofoam peanuts used to ship stuff.

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    1. Oh, the Styrofoam! I want to weep when I open a package and it's filled with that stuff!

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  32. i had no clue about this! Thanks for talking about it. I'll have to go check the products I have but I'm worried now that I'll find microbeads in my faves .. But at least I know what not to purchase in the future! xx

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  33. I believe Unilever phased them out a couple of years ago as well

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  34. Thanks for taking a stand on this and disseminating the information!!

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  35. Thanks for taking a stand on this and disseminating the information!! If anyone wants to know more, have a look at the UN Environment Programme´s report on this issue, entitled Plastic in Cosmetics: Are We Polluting the Environment Through our Personal Care: Plastic ingredients that contribute to marine microplastic litter' - See more at: http://www.unep.org/NewsCentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=26827&ArticleID=35180#sthash.Lepef0KB.dpuf

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  36. The power of CAROLINE! Bow down, Johnson & Johnson!

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  37. Hi Caroline! Thank you for posting this and informing your readers. I am actually surprised on EU's stance on this. I work in the food industry. And when it comes to food regulations, EU regulations are usually more strict than those in USA. Hopefully authorities will see sense sooner than later.

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  38. I am proud that the US is leading on this important environmental issue and I'm sure other countries already have plans in the works (if not, get cracking!).

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  39. I think the EU does care about the environment, it is one of their main priorities in its research and innovation funding programme ( H2020 here's the link if you have time to spare http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2016_2017/main/h2020-wp1617-climate_en.pdf
    But maybe not this issue, and I agree with you ... Vote with your purse.. Don't buy products with micro-beads.

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  40. Yay its so good to see you jumping on board with this caroline. I gave up all products containing polyethylene and polypropylene last year after i heard about it in the USA
    Hopefully the EU will follow suit eventually :)

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  41. I thought the EU were planning to ban microbeads soon and I can't believe that they really aren't bothered and have no plans to ban them. I eat an awful lot of fish and I certainly don't want to end of eating any of these nasty little things and I don't want the fish eating them either. I decided a while ago not to use anything with microbeads in and have this in my disclaimer on my blog

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  42. Microbeads come with many names and nicks... Among them the so commonly used PEG followed by a number...
    It will take both time and effort to be able to ban them all from our bathrooms and cleaning cupboards... But here is a good comprehensive list of the most common names for those inclined to go on a bead hunt in your houses or to take with you to the cosmetics counters around the world... :)

    Names microbeads take on in ingredients lists:

    Polyethylene (PE).
    Polyethylene Glycol, you can find them as PEG- followed by a number, for exampl PEG-32.
    Polypropylene (PP).
    Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
    Polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

    Just sayin...
    Scout

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  43. Just seen on BBC that microbeads are going to be banned in the uk as of next year!! YAAAAAS!!!!

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