Problems With Microbeads In Cosmetics You May Not Know

Problems With Microbeads In Cosmetics You May Not Know

Have you ever thought about how your daily beauty routine has a big influence on the environment, especially the ocean? The fact is that if you stop using microbeads cosmetics, it's good not only for your health but also for the whole planet.

Microbeads cause marine pollution (Photo: BBC)
Microbeads cause marine pollution (Photo: BBC)

In this article, John's Tours will show you how harmful microbeads are, which you have never known before.

What are microbeads?

Microbeads are small pieces of plastic, about 1 millimeter or less in size. 

Microbeads in personal care products (Photo: NPR)
Microbeads in personal care products (Photo: NPR)

Those solid plastic particles are typically used to exfoliate or cleanse in rinse-off personal care products or toothpaste because of their safe and effective exfoliating properties that helped to remove dry, dead cells from the surface of the skin, as well as unclog pores and they don’t dissolve in water.

For these advantages, it has become a common ingredient in lots of personal-care products. Some popular products that have microbeads include face scrubs, toothpaste, moisturizers, lotions, deodorants, sunscreens, makeup products, shampoo, etc.

How do microbeads cause pollution?

It may be great for your skin, but the environment is paying a high price thanks to microbeads - one tiny ingredient in your skin and body care products, and cosmetics. Because the qualities that make microbeads so effective as exfoliants are the same qualities that put us and the natural environment in danger.

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A plankton sample collected by a Greenpeace vessel (Photo: Greenpeace/Gavin Parsons)

These tiny plastics were emitted to freshwater and marine environments from consumer products rinsed down the drain, which is precisely where we are undesirable them to go.

Microbeads don’t dissolve in water and they are so small. Therefore these tiny plastics pass unchanged through waterways into the ocean. Although there are waste treatment plants, microbeads are still adding up in our waterways and ocean, threatening the lives of marine animals.

Notably, tides and currents carry plastic pollution across oceans to countries far away from where they were originally released.

Is it different than grinding up plastic bottles and pumping them into oceans and rivers? Most of the world’s ocean plastics by quantity are microplastics. How can we solve this enormous problem?

We're facing a plastic crisis that we cause ourselves and don't know about or even ignore it.

What detrimental effect can the microbeads really do?

Is your smoother skin worth more than potable water or edible seafood? Definitely not. We can easily see that microbeads cause marine pollution, harm marine life, and enter the food chain.

Once in the water, microbeads used in lots of personal care products are the same size as fish eggs and become reluctant food for many sea animals. Marine species are unable to distinguish between food and microplastics, so they have mistaken the microbeads for food.

Microplastics are visible in fish. (Photo: Oona Lönnstedt/Science)
Microplastics are visible in fish. (Photo: Oona Lönnstedt/Science)

If ingested by an animal, the microbeads not only not supply the creatures with needed nutrients but also can lodge in the animal's digestive tract, causing pain, indigestible, and eventually death.

The microbeads have another threat to wildlife and even humans. They are toxic to wildlife that eat them and humans that eat fish that consumed the microbeads because the plastic in the microbeads acts like tiny sponges, and absorbs dangerous chemicals.

What can we do to reduce microbead pollution and protect the Earth in general and Phu Quoc Island in particular?

Stopping using products that contain microbeads (Photo: hakaimagazine)
Stopping using products that contain microbeads (Photo: hakaimagazine)

Because waste treatment plants are unable to prevent microbead pollution. Therefore, stopping using products that contain microbeads is the best method to prevent this problem.

The asynchronous prohibition of manufacturing products containing plastic microbeads and the demand for using microbeads for exfoliating and cleansing make this problem get bigger.

We can check for ourselves if our personal-care product uses microbeads if the label includes these ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Nylon (PA), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).

Use natural exfoliants
Use natural exfoliants

Ideally, we should commit to replacing microbeads with alternative materials such as natural compounds and environmentally-friendly substitutes. We also can use natural exfoliants like oats, salt, yogurt, sugar, or coffee grounds.

Especially when snorkeling on Phu Quoc Island, plastic-free and ocean-friendly sunscreens and skin care products are necessary. Remember what you use on your face and your body will be washed by water into the ocean.

John's Tours hopes that everybody can be aware of the threat these tiny pieces of plastic pose to our planet in general and the Phu Quoc Island environment in particular.
 

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