Microbeads: Those Tiny Plastic Environmental Disasters in Your Face Wash

Over the last few years, we have been warned against using products containing microbeads. After plenty research it now proves they are actually disastrous for the environment, and the US over the New Year has successfully banned any use of microbeads in products being sold in the country and Coles and Woolworths in Australia have followed nationwide.

So what’s the deal with microbeads?


What are microbeads?

They are tiny plastic spheres, smaller than a grain of sand. They are made up of polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethlyl Metacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon, which are all basically a form of plastic.


Where are they found?

They are found in a face soap, body wash, toothpaste, deodorant and known to be added into make-up such as lip gloss and nail polish.


How does it affect us?

Our wastewater treatment plants are not designed to find and remove these tiny microbeads, so everyday 8 trillion microbeads (enough to fill 300 tennis court every single day) are being washed into the ocean and steams in the US. They do not biodegrade so they stay in the ground and waterways practically forever.

These plastic particles pick up toxins around them and become a million time more toxic than water.

Marine life consume these micro-plastic toxic particles, these are passed up through the food chain which we then ingest when eating contaminated fish (like sushi).


How can I find out if there is plastic in the Products I use?

Check the labels and ingredients list on all products you are using. If you see the following ingredients : Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethlyl Metacrylate (PMMA), then your product has plastic in its ingredients and you are unknowingly contributing to plastic pollution.


What is being done?

A lot of companies are already removing microbeads from their products and replacing them with natural ingredients that do the same job.

The Story of Stuff Project is leading coalition of over 100 groups to get these tiny plastic beads off our supermarket shelves.

The US has successfully banned all products with microbeads and supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths in Australia have followed suit and banned all storewide.


What can we do?

Download the free 'Beat The Microbead' app – this lets you scan all barcodes to check if the ingredients contain plastic microbeads before buying. 

Stop buying products that contain Microbeads and use natural exfoliant’s like these;

Coffee Scrubs by Frank

Sugar Scrubs by Afterglow

Salt Scrubs by Summer Salt Body


These types of products can often be found in natural health shops and online. Or make your own.

Lots of facts and info borrow from these references;

Story of Stuff

Do Something

Newsweek by Zoë Schlanger

SMH by Rachel Browne