Microbeads are perfectly spherical microscopic particles of plastic that were first produced by Professor John Ugelstad. The new development was primarily used for cancer treatment, HIV research and in production of electronics such as LCD screens. As valuable as microbeads were to science, their use in cosmetics and skincare products has impacted the natural environment on a much larger scale than we had imagined. (Kal, 2018). From your facewash to your toothpaste, and your shampoo to your hand sanitizer, if you use any sort of personal hygiene product, you have undoubtedly played a role in causing microplastic pollution.
By invention, microbeads were designed to get into hard to reach places, which is the sole reason why trillions of these particles end up in our rivers, seas, and oceans every passing minute. But wait a second, if you can’t even see these particles with the naked eye, why are they a problem? Although these teeny-tiny pieces of plastic are probably harmless individually, collectively they form a large surface area in the environment. This allows other toxins, pesticides, etc. to accumulate in marine water as they “latch onto” the plastic particles or get absorbed. Unfortunately, these (now) toxic microbeads become snacks for microscopic plankton -which then become food for bigger fish causing the plastic to accumulate every step up the food chain, until it reaches your dinner plate (Murphy, Ewins, Carbonnier & Quinn, 2016).
Up until a few years ago, it was quite common to for the cosmetic industry to proudly advertise the presence of microbeads in their products. What was once a major selling point for refreshing, cleansing cosmetics has now become a byword for environmental disaster (Kal, 2018). It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic by weight in the world’s oceans than fish. So, the question is, what can we do now to reduce the amount of microplastics reaching our oceans?
Ban on Microbeads
Several countries have taken initiative to ban microbeads; Netherlands was the first country to do so in 2014. In Canada, the Minister of Environment proposed Regulations, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, to address microbeads in skincare and cosmetic products that make their way into the wastewater stream and contaminate the natural water sources. The Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations, 2017, came into force from January 1, 2018 and banned the manufacture and importation of toiletries containing microbeads (<5 mm in size). From July 1, 2018, the sale of toiletries containing microbeads was banned within Canada. These Regulations did not apply to products classified as natural health products or non-prescription drugs. July 1, 2019 will mark the ban on sale of toiletries containing microbeads that are natural health products or non-prescription drugs. (Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999).
Although the Canadian Government has taken lead by passing and enforcing these regulations, public education and cooperation is needed to control pollution. As users of skincare products, you should be aware of what is being sold to you. Since the changes are very recent, it is likely that you may have purchased cleansers or hand sanitizers containing microbeads after the Regulations for their ban came into force. You must be aware that it is absolutely illegal to sell (and purchase) these products in Canada and can lead to heavy fines or penalties. If your Esthetician or beauty technician uses a product containing microbeads, remind her about the Regulations! Caring for your skin is an absolute need but the products you use should not harm the environment that supports you. La VieSage Skincare products are entirely free of microbeads and do not contain unnecessary materials for scents, colour, or texture. If you are looking to replace your cleanser, try Ease Cleanse -a botanical and 100% natural cleanser that is great for sensitive and dry skin! It is astonishing to see what a small change to your daily routine can do to reduce your pollution footprint.
Product: La VieSage Ease Cleanse