5 Products With Microbeads - and 5 Products to Immediately Replace Them With

“Acne is just another tribulation of being a teenager.” “Drink lots of water, and your face will clear up in no time.” “Wash your pillowcase every other day and you’ll never break out again.” These are all things that have been said to me over the years by my mom, my friends, and Seventeen magazine. I am now twenty years old, drink at least a gallon of water a day, and have tried the pillowcase trick off and on for years. Still, about twice a month I wake up with a small bundle of angry pink spots that last for days. 

No matter how much money I spend on “As Seen on TV” miracle cleansers, magazine recommended drugstore products, and even ingredients for DIY natural remedies from Pinterest, my acne seems to be unavoidable. Nothing stops my breakouts completely. The closest thing that does this though, is Neutrogena's Pink Grapefruit Acne Scrub. It works wonders and smells great. With a surprisingly low price tag, there seems to be no downside. It was only until a few weeks ago that I discovered there indeed was one. A big one.

It turns out, my beloved Pink Grapefruit Acne Scrub is chocked full of microbeads. Microbeads are extremely tiny plastic spheres made of polyethylene, but can be also be made of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. They are designed to get into hard to reach places. In the context of the many acne products they reside in, this means your pores. When rinsed off your face, an estimated 100,000 microbeads are sucked into the drain and deposited into rivers and canals, resulting in plastic particle water pollution. Because they are so tiny, sewage treatment plants have no effect on them.

A variety of wildlife, from small fish, amphibians and turtles to birds and larger mammals, mistake microbeads for their food source. This makes them sick and destroys their digestive systems. They also affect the larger organisms who eat them, including humans. Plastic pollution is such a problem that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish. Several countries recognize the urgency of this problem, and have banned microbeads. In December 2015, President Obama signed a US-wide legislation banning microbeads from cosmetics. Even with this victory, the ban only refers only to exfoliating microbeads and not to all microplastic ingredients used in cosmetics. Even though they are not technically microbeads, they are made of the same harmful material.

With the help of Al Gore’s internet, I have found five microbead-less products in five categories of aesthetic self-care. Starting with my favorite…

Mild Acne:

Instead of this: Neutrogena     - Oil-Free Acne Wash-Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub

Try this: Burt’s Bees - Peach & Willowbark Exfoliating Facial Cleansing Cloths



Instead of this: Clean and Clear - Blackhead Eraser Scrub-Oil Free

Try this: Garnier - SkinActive Clean+ Blackhead Eliminating Scrub



Instead of this: Heel to Toe - Warming Foot Scrub

Try this: Lush - Lush Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub



Instead of this: Neutrogena - Men-Razor Defense Face Scrub

Try this: Ursa Major - Stellar Shave Cream


Severe Acne:

Instead of this: Acne Free - Severe Anti-Acne Cleansing Wash

Try this: Philosophy - Microdelivery Peel