Founder, Karen Behnke talks how to exfoliate without using environmentally harmful plastic microbeads and how these are ending up in our ocean life.
Growing up surrounded by the Great Lakes, I loved going to the local pharmacy and buying the latest microbead scrub —yum– the fabulous aroma and feeling those beads rubbing all over my body, I felt clean and gorgeous! Hmmm…but what was I doing to my body and the environment?
In 2005, Juice Beauty came out with our first healthier exfoliating bead product, Exfoliating Cleanser, with dissolving jojoba beads instead of plastic particles. At the time, I really didn’t know much about how microbeads were polluting our environment but I just took the time to think about all aspects of our product, how it would perform, how our customers would respond, how the product would positively impact one’s health, and how we would meet our goal of always being environmentally responsible. So it seemed like the right thing to do using sustainably sourced jojoba beads instead of plastics. I was just trying to avoid supporting the toxic manufacturing process of plastics as well as meet our EcoValue goals but didn’t have any idea that these cosmetic microbeads were also wreaking havoc on our waterways and fish.
The Problem, Microbeads, those little plastic beads often found in facial and body scrubs may feel like they’re helping clean your skin but they are definitely not helping the environment when they get washed down the drain and our Juice Beauty scientists aren’t even convinced they are great for your skin! The tons of plastic microbeads, that conventional chemical beauty companies use, do not biodegrade completely. When they do break down slipping through the filters in our sewage systems, they permeate our Great Lakes, rivers and eventually oceans and are harmful to the environment. A study was recently published that Eurasian perch larvae exposed to microplastics were less active, less responsive to predator cues and they developed a preference to eating plastic rather than their natural prey. I’m no scientist but I can figure out that this process is leading to trouble.
The Research: When I lived in the Midwest, I loved going to Lake Michigan’s beaches as well as the amusement park on Lake Erie. Little did I know that by purchasing plastic microbead products, I was contributing to a terrible environmental concern. A State University of New York researcher published her research from the Great Lakes and this scientist found on average,17,000 bits of tiny plastic items per square kilometer in Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario’s levels were the highest, with counts of up to 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer. Researchers at the University of California Davis and Oregon State University found that roughly 8 trillion microbeads are currently finding their way into streams and oceans in the U.S. every single day.
Yuk….since these microbeads mimic eggs, our fish eat them which means we’re also eating these plastic beads in our fish! Double Yuk! Bad for the fish, bad for us and bad for the environment.
Great Alternatives: There are great alternatives. Dissolving jojoba beads, grape seed and raw cane sugar, are all effective “bead” exfoliators, they provide nutrients for the skin and they dissolve naturally into the environment.
Solution: Fortunately now Microbeads will be banned in all states by 2017. I’m so proud of Juice Beauty’s scientists that we produced one of the first alternatives exfoliators in 2005 to abide by our EcoValues and I can only hope that the beautiful Great Lakes that I so enjoyed growing up will, someday, become free of these toxins.
Juice Beauty’s Exfoliating Cleanser deeply cleanses without the use of plastic microbeads; The gentle cleanser is formulated with certified organic refining pineapple enzymes and dissolving jojoba beads.