Natural Microbead Alternatives


If you haven't heard the very good news already: President Obama just signed an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the manufacturing of "rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads." The bipartisan bill known as the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 comes after numerous studies have shown the alarming amount of plastic pollution these cosmetic additives contribute to the world's water supply.  

What's The Deal With Microbeads?

If you're wondering what microbeads are, they are those tiny little plastic balls that float around in your personal care products. They're in face scrubs, body washes, and even some toothpastes. They act as perfect little spherical exfoliators that remove dead and dry skin.

What's So Bad About Microbeads?

Microbeads are cheap and easy to manufacture and because of their small size (smaller than 5 millimeters) they can wash down the drain of any sink or bathtub. Once they leave your bathroom, they slip through water treatment facilities and out into the world's water supply. They then end up being ingested by fish and other aquatic life, filling their guts with plastic until they starve to death or are consumed by humans. In turn, we end up eating plastic filled fish that haven't yet starved; you can see why they've been banned.

Fortunately, the new legislation will guarantee that there will be no plastic microbeads in cosmetic products available for sale in the US by July 2019.

If you're one of those people right now wondering what will I do without my perfect little plastic scrubbing buddies, there are some natural alternatives that get the job done.

Scrubbing Beads From The Earth

Peach Stones: 

Finely ground peach pits act as a natural exfoliant that smooths skin without being abrasive. Find it in: Burt's Bees Peach & Willow Bark Deep PoreScrub

Walnut shells:

Ground walnut shells have a multitude of applications from industrial cleaning to an ingredient for natural dyes, but when used in combination with natural cosmetic ingredients, these discarded nut bits make a great facial cleanser. Find it in: Portland General Store's Face Bomb


White or brown sugar granules act as a great exfoliant that dissolves in water once washed down the drain. Combine with a little coconut oil and use it as a DIY body scrub or purchase a pre-made concoction. Find it in: Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish

Sea Salt:

Sea Salt works just like sugar minus the sticky part. It's used regularly in soaps, scrubs, and lotions. Find it in: Honest Sea Salt & Sugar Body Scrub

Baking Soda:

known for its natural cleaning abilities, baking soda is a two-in-one when it comes to personal care products. Baking soda's gentle texture aids dead cell exfoliation while absorbing toxins and odors. Find it in: The ANY Magazine's DIY Honey Cinnamon Face Scrub