Using a skin exfoliant is one of the most, if not the most, important elements of a good skin care routine. This is because if you don’t regularly help your skin shed dead skin cells, it will start looking dry, rough and dull. Our skin is a very clever organ but with age, our skin cells don’t regenerate themselves as quickly as they used to and our body is slower to shed dead skin cells to make space for the new ones. The consequence of this is that the build-up of old skin cells can lead to excess oil production and clogged pores, eventually resulting in blemishes and acne break outs.

Benefits of exfoliation

  • Moisturising products can penetrate more deeply into the skin and are more effective,
  • Increases cell regeneration,
  • Decreases blackheads, blemishes and break outs,
  • Minimizes hyperpigmentation and fine lines,
  • Removes dead cells from pores, making them appear smaller,
  • Makes make-up look better,
  • Skin is looking fresher and more healthy.

Best methods of exfoliation

It all depends on your skin type and its sensitivity levels. If you suffer from extremely sensitive skin or really severe acne, you should choose your preferred method of exfoliation a bit more carefully than anyone else. Whatever your skin type, it’s important that you choose a skin exfoliant with smooth and round granules to ensure you don’t irritate your skin.

Most mainstream skin exfoliants contain microbeads to remove dead skin cells. These microbeads are tiny beads of plastic as small as 5mm or even smaller in dimension. While they may be good at sloughing away dead skin cells, they’re causing significant environmental impact. Not only do they add to an existing high pollution of plastic in our oceans but also they’re harmful to marine life. Many Governments around the world, including the UK, have committed to take steps to ban the use of plastic microbeads in skin care and personal care products. In fact, Greenpeace’s recent campaign has led to more MPs pushing this important issue higher up the Government’s agenda.

For now though, until a ban is in force, it’s important that we all do our bit to be more eco-friendly and say ‘no’ to plastic microbeads. So next time you shop for skincare products, choose a skin exfoliant that doesn’t contain microbeads but instead contains natural alternatives.

Today is the World Oceans Day which is aimed to celebrate our oceans but also a day to focus on how we can conserve them. This year’s focus is to encourage solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter. So what better way to review how you exfoliate and make sure you opt for a microbead-free exfoliant.

How to choose microbead-free exfoliants

Have a look at the ingredient list on the back of your product and look out for these:

  • polyethylene and polypropylene – these are the two main types of plastic to look out for,
  • polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon – to be on the safe side, also check the product is free from those ingredients.

For an effective and microbead-free body scrub, I’ve been making my own body scrubs which utilise either sea salt or demerara sugar to gently remove the dead skin cells. So how about giving my Zesty sea salt body scrub and Chocolate and mint body scrub a go?

For a facial skin exfoliant, I’ve recently been testing Living Nature’s Skin Revive Exfoliant. It’s listed in the Australian The Good Scrub Guide and contains natural wax beads that are bio-degradable and harmless to ocean life.

Say no to plastic microbeads in skin exfoliants

Product description:

“Skin Revive is a multi-tasking skin cleanser and exfoliant in one, in a generous 75ml size! Our unique combination of natural microbeads and cleanser enhances the exfoliating process, with no harsh abrasive action. The cleansing properties of our hero ingredient Kumerahou gently loosen the cement (oil, dirt and debris) around dead skin cells, allowing them to be more effectively removed by the Jojoba and Candelilla wax beads without micro tears or damage to the skin. Skin is revived by revealing the younger cells beneath and stimulating healthy cell renewal, with a fresh, herby mint fragrance to awaken and refresh. For all skin types, particularly acne-prone.”

Size: 75ml

Price: £27.50 NOW £18.00


Aqua (water), Glycerin (vegetable glycerin)**, Cera alba (beeswax), Cetyl palmitate, Sorbitan palmitate, Sorbitan olivate, Stearic acid, Stearyl stearate, Euphorbia cerifera (candelilla wax) wax, Jojoba esters, Decyl glucoside, Sucrose cocoate, Xanthan gum, Caprylic capric triglyceride, Glucose, Pomaderris kumerahou flower/leaf extract, Parfum (fragrance)*, Glucose oxidase, Lactoperoxidase.

*From natural essential oils: Citronellol, Limonene.

**Certified organic.

Key to ingredient lists:

  • Ingredients known to have positive benefits
  • Ingredients that may cause irritation (especially to sensitive skin)
  • Ingredients considered potentially harmful/ toxic

This exfoliant is available from: Botanical Brands

My view: 

What I really like about this product (which I recently featured in my monthly round-up of favourite skincare products) is its consistency and how it works into a very gentle lather. This is no doubt the result of the magic ingredient – kumerahou, only found in New Zealand and used throughout many other Living Nature products. Kumerahou contains natural foaming agents, making it a great alternative to harsh surfactants such as SLS that strip the skin of its protective oils. Kumerahou has gentle cleansing and anti-microbial properties, so it helps to lift away dead skin cells. Exfoliation is further achieved through Candelilla and Jojoba wax beads. As for application – it feels very gentle on the skin and creates a really pleasant silky film on your skin’s surface as you’re massaging your face. It washes off really well, leaving your skin feeling soft. This exfoliant is also very economical as you only need a very small amount of it so even though it’s a bit pricey, it will last for a good few months. I actually wasted quite a lot with the first couple of applications because I used way too much at first. Overall, it’s a gentle exfoliant with a unique ingredient formulation and there’s certainly no plastic microbead in sight!


Say no to plastic microbeads in skin exfoliants

Disclosure: This product was sent to me by Botanical Brands in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed in this post are 100% mine and genuine.

27 comments on “Say ‘no’ to plastic microbeads in skin exfoliants”

    • I’ve been there too Jaymee, there’s just never enough time in the day when you’re a Mum, is there? But I do find spending a bit more time on my skin really does help to keep it in a good condition. Hope you manage to find some time for yourself. xx

    • It’s really hard to look after yourself when you have children, isn’t it? But I find that it makes such a big difference to my wellbeing when I put a bit more effort. Hope you find some time for yourself! xx

  1. Wow, I had absolutely no idea that they were plastic! This is such an important thing to raise awareness of! Thanks for a great post. x

  2. It’s such a shame, I really love the little beads for exfoliation, but I’ve had to avoid buying them for the last couple of years since I found out how bad they are for the environments.

  3. I am so happy to read someone else writing about this issue too! I wrote about microbeads last year as part of my campaign with 5Gyres. Vile little things! I have written about other actions we can take to protect our oceans in honour of World Oceans Day too.

  4. Great article! I agree, those microbeads, while they are great for exfoliating, are horrible for the environment. I wish they’d just do away. It 2017. We have people sitting up in space watching over everyone. I’m sure if that can be accomplished, we can figure out how to exfoliate our skin without those harmful microbeads. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Carrie! You’d think that we’d be clever enough to stop harming our own planet but yet, we still abuse it time and time again… there’s really no need for these microbeads so I hope they get banned! xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.