Don't rub plastic into your skin: 5 microbead-free exfoliants
Beauty: Small enough to wash down drains, microbeads pose a risk to marine life
Microbeads, or tiny ball-shaped particles of plastic, are a common ingredient in soap, shower gel or cream and exfoliating products. They are cheap, making their use appealing to manufacturers and popular with consumers, but they pose a risk to marine life. Small enough to wash down drains, microbeads can eventually end up interfering with marine life and ultimately entering the food chain. A UK ban on microbeads came into force last week and it is likely Ireland will follow suit before the year is out.
From a beauty perspective, the use of microbeads is particularly frustrating because it is so unnecessary. Body scrubs are easily manufactured at home – a handful of rock salt mixed into a paste with some olive oil will effectively slough away dead skin – but there are plenty of over-the-counter scrubs on the market. Most frequently, microbeads will be found in facial exfoliators. Though the friction of a gritty scrub can be satisfying, a chemical exfoliant (which involves no scrubbing or rough treatment, instead dissolving the bonds between old dead skin cells and fresh ones using acids) is more potent and less distressing to the skin.
Alpha-H Liquid Gold
Alpha-H’s super-effective glycolic acid exfoliant. Apply it to cleansed skin once or twice a week, applying your usual skincare over the top. It is a mid-strength glycolic acid product, so skin that is accustomed to glycolic acid will benefit from it without complications. Very sensitive skin is better suited to a more gentle chemical exfoliator such as the one below. (€35 from beautybay.com)
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%
Lactic acid is an ideal, gentle but effective exfoliant for reactive or sensitive skin. Apply to cleansed skin and follow up with your usual serum and moisturiser. The addition of hyaluronic acid adds hydration and comfort to keep skin happy and balanced. (€6.50 from cloud10beauty.com)
Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub
A thick, gritty paste exfoliator that is incredibly effective but should be used carefully. Massage it into wet skin very gently – this is not a product for anyone who likes to exfoliate their skin vigorously. Use sparingly and apply with very little pressure for excellent results. (€67.27 from Space NK)
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
This cleanser combines physical and chemical exfoliators to effectively resurface the skin. Lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids resurface and decongest the skin, while jojoba beads provide gentle friction. (€42 from Thérapie Spas and Edvard & Pink Dundrum)
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
This super-fine powder contains salicylic acid and rice enzymes for an exfoliation that leaves skin feeling soft and smooth but not at all irritated. Combine a small amount with a few drops of water for a creamy, very mildly abrasive lather. (€65 from Harvey Nichols)