When washing our face, the impact of our actions on the environment is often far from our minds. Cleansing and moisturizing feels good in the moment, but sometimes our skincare products have larger implications. In recent years, the environmental impact of cosmetics and skincare products have come into the spotlight. Microbeads in particular have taken center stage as the teeny, tiny skincare scoundrel wreaking havoc on our waterways.
But the age of microbeads and their harmful environmental impact is coming to an end. The U.S. and other countries around the world are working to ban the little beads and personal care companies will soon have to find another, less damaging means of cleansing and exfoliating.
What Are Microbeads?
Have you ever used a facial cleanser with tiny, plastic exfoliating beads suspended throughout the gel or cream product? Those itty bitty little beads are called microbeads and, since their introduction into everyday health and hygiene products, they have caused some serious damage to our waterways. The beads, usually made out of polyethylene, can be found in facial scrubs, toothpastes and biomedical and health-science research products. These little guys measure five millimeters at most, which has made their environmental impact so strong.
How Does Such A Tiny Piece Of Plastic Cause Such A Big Environmental Impact?
It’s the small size of microbeads that makes them so disruptive to the environment. According to Environmental Responsibility in Cosmetics: The Case of Microbeads, the size and density of the plastics makes them able to slip through filters at water treatment facilities and right into our rivers, lakes and oceans. In the case of septic tanks, the beads are expelled right into the environment.
Essentially, when a product containing microbeads is used and rinsed away down the drain, it carries those micro-sized plastics with it. A study by researchers at SUNY Plattsburgh of micro plastics in Lake Champlain showed micro plastic fiber, beads, pellets, films and fragments in the water, presumably from the use of consumer personal care products. The fibers were collected in the highest concentration, but on high flow days, even more micro plastic beads and films were found.
Micro plastics like those found in Lake Champlain can absorb toxic chemicals from the environment. Because they’re easily mistaken as edible by wildlife, they can work their way into the food chain, causing harm to the delicate underwater ecosystems they’ve infiltrated. The American Chemical Society estimated that in 2015, when Scientific Evidence Supports a Ban on Microbeads was published, 8 trillion microbeads were emitted into aquatic habitats in the United States alone every day.
What Are We Doing To Reverse The Damage?
With so many plastic microbeads already deposited in our waterways, much of the damage has already been done. The beads in aquatic habitats can transfer chemical pollutants and cause cellular necrosis as well as inflammation and laceration of tissues in the wildlife that ingests them.
To prevent further damage to the environment, countries around the world have taken measures to ban the harmful plastic beads, slowly removing them from their products. An app launched in 2012 allows users to track which personal care products in their country contain microbeads. Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States have all begun to ban the use of microbeads as well.
In December of 2015, President Obama signed into law the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 to prohibit the production of rinse-off personal care products that contain microbeads. Manufacturing of the products containing the microbeads is set to cease on July 1, 2017 with an end to distribution of existing products a year later. The cessation of production of microbead products that are considered nonprescription drugs will begin on July 1, 2018 with an end to distribution the following year. No scientific research exists yet on how to remove the microbeads already in our waterways or if there’s a way to reverse the damage already done.
How Do Fulom Products Fit In?
Fulom Face & Body Cleanser uses mild ingredients to gently cleanse the skin without employing environmentally-damaging microbeads. Fulom’s organic fulvic acid maintains skin’s natural moisture while remaining pH balanced and not dumping any damaging plastics into our water supply.
To purchase Fulom Face & Body Cleanser and get the story on fulvic acid, visit www.fulomskin.com.