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Beads with benefits: A biodegradable alternative to microplastics

Gentle, natural and eco-friendly? Here’s an exfoliator we all want in our drawers

Published On: 04/05/19

A gentle, fast-working face scrub that gives you just the right amount of exfoliation without irritating your skin — that’s a beautiful thing.

What’s not so beautiful? When the plastic beads from our skincare products pollute our waterways and put marine life in danger.

Microplastics — that is, any plastic particles smaller than 1 millimeter — are meant to wash down the drain when you rinse off a personal care product, like toothpaste or an exfoliating scrub.

They don’t just poof out of existence, though. Water filtration systems can’t handle plastic microbeads. And because they don’t biodegrade, they often end up in lakes or oceans where small fish and wildlife mistake them for food.

That’s the ugly truth. The good news: several states have banned products containing plastic microbeads, and in 2015 the US Congress passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act to eliminate them for good.

Now skincare formulators are looking for plastic microbead alternatives to deliver safe, effective exfoliation without the nasty environmental side-effects.

Microplastics: Swimming with the fishes

You need exfoliating products to unclog pores, slough off dead skin and freshen up your face and body, but those tiny beads turn into a massive problem when you consider their impact on the environment.

Need a visual? The microplastics in your typical exfoliating shower gel can add up to roughly the same amount of plastic used to make the packaging it comes in.

Before the nationwide ban, more than 8 trillion plastic microbeads entered aquatic habitats in the United States every day, according to US research.

The new law sets a series of deadlines to stop manufacturing and commercially distributing products made with plastic particles, with a final deadline of July 1, 2019 to halt the sale of over-the-counter drugs that contain them. With the last few plastic microbead-containing products finally phasing out of American markets — and as other countries around the world follow suit — it’s important to understand the safe, naturally-sourced alternatives available to us.

No, I don’t want no scrubs — wait, yes I do

Aside from plastic microbeads, another common problem with exfoliating scrubs is skin irritation.

What’s a girl to do? Unless you’re really committed to following TLC’s famous mantra, you don’t have to swear off scrubs to avoid these issues. (To be fair, they’re talking about a different kind of scrub.)

With all the buzz about harsh and problematic ingredients, many of us are looking more closely at the labels on our skin products. Some skincare companies are responding with creative exfoliating ingredients and greater transparency on their labels. One big example is Cegesoft® Peel, a rinse-off exfoliating product that is both eco-friendly and easy on your skin. The product is sustainably sourced and completely biodegradable.

That’s better for the fishes and your skin. The wax-based exfoliant is what’s known in the biz as a “safe synthetic,” derived from natural and renewable feedstocks and far less likely to irritate your skin.

Compared to sharp-edged alternatives like silica and cellulose, testing has shown that Cegesoft Peel’s smooth, spherical edges are far less likely to cause scratches and redness while providing equivalent exfoliation.

You can test out the ingredient right now in a few different formulations such as cream-to-oil peel and a yummy-looking scrub. They all have an eye-catching look with colorful gels, beads and glitter.

(1) Cosmopolitan Shower Peel

Here’s one high-rolling example: the Cosmopolitan Shower Peel, a non-abrasive body scrub that uses Cegesoft Peel to gently exfoliate. Mild surfactants and rheology modifiers leave the skin feeling soft and smooth — and colorful pigments make it fun to apply.

(2) Friendly Planet Face Scrub

There’s also your BFF the Friendly Planet Face Scrub, which features the sustainably-sourced, biodegradable exfoliant with a xanthan gum-based rheology modifier. With Cegesoft Peel’s smooth spheres front-and-center, this formulation gives you a gentle, earth-friendly scrub all around.

Clean ocean, clean conscience, clean face

Scratchy plastic fish food? Hard pass. Soft, smooth wax beads that are safe for fishes and faces? Yes please.

Proper exfoliation is essential for glowing skin, but these days we’re tuned in enough to know that our products can be gentle, effective and safe for the environment. It’s not too much to ask!

Let’s take care of our skin, and our subaquatic friends, with a more responsible approach.

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