What Are Microbeads And Why Do We Boycott Them?


There’s plastic on our supermarket shelves, and plastic in your pantry. But I bet you didn’t realise there is plastic in your makeup, your face wash, your cleaners, and even your toothpaste too.

Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.

The use of micro plastics, known as microbeads, in our personal care products and cleaners, is incredibly detrimental to our oceans and marine life. Oh Natural broke up with microbeads from the get go, and New Zealand is catching up.

But how and why are these plastic critters still around, and what should we use instead?

What are microbeads?

Microbeads are manufactured pieces of plastic measuring less than 5mm in diameter. They are solid, do not dissolve in water, and do not disintegrate. Often invisible to the human eye, microbeads are included in products to assist with exfoliating and abrasion, to bulk out the product, prolong shelf life, make a product stand out, or better control the release of active ingredients.

These sneaky little guys were launched as a brilliant development in beauty technology. Turns out, rubbing small plastic particles on your face helps to take off dead skin! But now, the world has realised the ramifications of microbeads far outweigh the benefits.

How do microbeads impact the planet?

Microbeads are most commonly found in rinse-off beauty products that are washed down the sink. Think of your exfoliating face wash and makeup cleanser. These products are washed from your face, into the drain, and where do they end up? The ocean.


Far too small to be filtered out by sewage systems, microbeads make their way from our bathroom sinks into ocean ecosystems to cause havoc. These tiny pieces of plastic absorb toxins in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Due to their fish-egg like appearance, marine animals then eat the microbeads, causing indigestion issues, and sometimes even death.

To make things even worse, humans have also been found to ingest microplastics when eating seafood! Even though micro plastics are made from the same plastics (like polyethylene and polypropylene) as common household containers, existing in this miniscule form is more dangerous to our ocean ecosystems than a floating milk bottle which cannot be as easily ingested. It seems ridiculous for us to use microplastics in our beauty products when the effects are so harmful. Thankfully, New Zealand thinks so too.

On the 7th of June 2018, Prime Minister, Jacinta Ardern, banned microbeads in New Zealand. This ban means it is now illegal for products to contain microbeads, and manufacturers must change their tactics. With New Zealand’s marine life and precious ecosystems in mind, this ban ensures our country and it’s surrounding waterways are now protected from nasty microbeads.

With microbeads out of the picture, companies have had to come up with other alternatives that do the same exfoliating trick! Luckily, Oh Natural has been on the microbead free bandwagon since day one. They know a thing or two about exfoliators that lack microbeads, but get the job done.

Oh Natural’s Microbead Free Alternatives:

Be Kind Body Co. Coffee and Coconut Body Scrub

Who needs tiny pieces of plastic when you have this caffeine-rich body scrub to take away the dead skin cells, stimulate blood flow, and fight off germs with antibacterial properties! This body scrub will leave your skin feeling smooth and alive.

Coconut Scrub

Eco Tan Extreme Exfoliating Glove

Exfoliating before a tan is important, but your exfoliator ingredients don’t need to be made of plastic. This natural fibre exfoliating glove removes excess skin and old tan layers to create a fresh canvas. It’s also great for unclogging pores on your face and your body if a tan isn’t your thing.

Skin Juice Revival Refining Facial Scrub

Known as a ‘potent skin smoother’, you’re in for a face revival. The natural jojoba beads replace microbeads to deeply exfoliate and expose fresh and glowing skin.

The Humble Co. Vegan Toothpaste

Humble natural toothpaste use only essential ingredients, and believe you don’t deserve to eat plastic! This toothpaste functions exactly like your usual, but includes only natural ingredients. Brush plaque away with a clear conscience that oceans won’t be harmed in the name of clean teeth.

Vegan toothpaste

Plastic is sneaky. Not only do we struggle to escape it in our supermarket shopping, but it’s taken the form of microbeads in our beauty products, and caused destruction to our aquatic ecosystems. Microbeads have no place here in New Zealand, and definitely not at Oh Natural. Microbeads can be replaced with amazing natural alternatives that do the job just as well, if not, better! Our oceans are happier and our skin loves it.

Goodbye microbeads, we’ll miss you: never.

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