Why I’m Seeking Alternatives To Microbeads

Reasons To Ditch Microbeads

Plastic microbeads are on their way to being banned in Canada. That’s good news for our environment.

These tiny plastic beads wash down our drains, too small to be caught by the wastewater treatment facilities. They end up in our lakes and waterways.

The Problem With Microbeads

On the March 30th episode of CBC’s The Current, Megan Leslie, NDP’s Environment critic and Member of Parliament for Halifax, explained that fishes and shellfish mistake microbeads for food. They think they are full but can’t eat anymore because their bellies are stuffed with plastic. Then, they starve to death. Microbeads are similar to sponges and absorb can absorb toxins like DDT and PCBs. They fish eat these and down the food chain we are eating the fish.

You can support the proposed cosmetic microbead ban by completing this letter via Environmental Defence.

Ditching The Bead

For the longest time I didn’t know that the scrubby things in my personal care products were made of plastic but as I cleaned up my beauty routine they disappeared from my shelves. It seemed that the products containing microbeads included ingredients I no longer wanted to use. It became easy for me not to use them but I’ve missed the satisfying feeling of a good exfoliation.

If you dig the multitasking goodness of an exfoliating wash, you might be left wondering what you’ll use if the microbead ban goes into effect? Or if you’re eager to stop washing with plastic now than you can follow Adria Vasil’s suggestion during her segment on The Current by starting your own microbead ban.

Try the Beat The Microbead app to see if your toiletries contain them. Hint…you’re looking for Polyethylene (PE) but you can usually tell by the grainy feeling in the product.

Why You Need To Find Plastic Microbead Alternatives

Alternatives To Plastic Microbeads

Natural exfoliants such as sugar, sea salt, coffee grounds, jojoba beads, almonds, baking soda, and oatmeal can be used with a little water and/or your favourite moisturizer. There are plenty of recipes to be found on Pinterest like this sugar scrub or sea salt scrub if you’re the do-it-yourself type.

Since I’ve not so crafty, I’ve been buying different types of exfoliants from non-toxic beauty brands and sharing my finds on Instagram. Pop on over to see what I’m trying!


  • These are great alternatives. I made my own coffee and sugar scrub recently and it was awesome

  • Green Bean says:

    Interesting. I had not realized that Polyethylene was the key thing to look for. I’ll have to download the app.

  • mindfulmicaela says:

    I’m a big fan of coffee scrubs! I’ve also tried some products with tiny jojoba beads that basically dissolve while you are using them – love that!

    • Sara Vartanian says:

      I haven’t used a coffee scrub yet but I think I’d love it because…coffee! My nightly exfoliator has jojoba beads and I also adore how they disappear. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I might be the only person on Earth who does not like the smell of coffee so I cannot try to coffee bean scrub. Rice powder I have also heard is a good scrub for sensitive skin.

    I was never a fan of the microbeads when they were popular it is nice to see so many alternatives.

    • Sara Vartanian says:

      Thanks for the rice powder suggestion, I hadn’t heard of that as an option. I have super sensitive skin so may like that for my face.

  • Anne says:

    Who knew? I love homemade sugar scrubs and lots of these clean new alternatives!

    • Sara Vartanian says:

      It’s awesome to see so many option from the DIY route or from companies who are making a difference!

  • Jen @ Go Green says:

    I have never tried a coffee scrub. I think it would make me smell too delicious 🙂

    I love my oatmeal face scrub though.

  • Lisa (@retrohousewife5) says:

    There are so many great natural scrub options I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t make the switch. Thanks for sharing!