Ban on Microbeads: What It Means For Your Favorite Cosmetics

If your favorite face wash includes tiny microbeads, you better say goodbye. After Unilever announced in December 2012 that all of its products worldwide would be plastic free by 2015, other multinationals started following suit.   The push to ban microbeads in beauty products was jump-started by a discovery in the Great Lakes in 2012.

they become coated with toxins like PCBs and can be eaten by fish and other marine life. Scientists suggest that those toxins could be working their way back up the food chain to humans.
— The New York Times

Now four years later, U.S. has passed a measure that bans the tiny microscopic plastic spheres from going down the drain.  Yesterday, President Obama, signed into law the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. 

What are plastic microbeads?

the term ‘plastic microbead’ means any
solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof; and the term ‘rinse-off cosmetic’ includes tooth paste
— According to the Bill lines (17-22)

These tiny plastic beads have become ubiquitous in hundreds of products ranging from body scrubs to toothpastes. They provide an exfoliating sensation for users and are designed to wash down drains.

The reason they are being banned is because they are made of plastic, therefore, microbeads do not dissolve and may pose a threat to the environment. Some marine life mistake small plastic as food particles. Scientists are researching whether microplastics affect the health of marine life once ingested and if chemicals transfer to humans who eat those species later, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Products that currently contains microbeads

  • Aveeno Brightening Daily Scrub
  • Axe Scrub with Vitamin C
  • Clean and Clear, multiple products, including Morning Burst Facial Scrub and Blackhead Eraser Scrub
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radian Skin Brightening Daily Scrub
  • Caress Evenly Gorgeous Exfoliating Body Wash
  • Clearasil Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub
  • Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula
  • Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub, numerous other products
  • Olay Moisturizer
  • Pond's Luminous Clean Daily Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Rite Aid Renewal Regenerating Micro Refining Cream
  • Victoria's Secret 2-in-1 Wash and Scrub
  • Biore Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser Complexion Clearing
  • Colgate Max Clean Toothpaste
  • Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh
    You can see a complete list here.

So What Does This Mean for These Brands?

Well they will now have to change their product to fit these regulations. 
It means they could lose once loyal customers. 
Definitely will have to change their brand identity and advertising for some brands.  Especially those like Clean and Clear. 

Lush removed all micro-plastics from its products last summer, and bigger companies — including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, and Unileverfollowed suit, phasing them out from their products.

Elizabeth WatkinsComment