There’s nothing we appreciate more than seeing a true step towards environmental protection rolled out on a large scale. Which is exactly what happened at the beginning of this year, when the manufacture of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products was banned in the UK.
Here at Glasshouse, we were aware of these little plastic particles, which can usually be spotted in mainstream cleansers, exfoliators, shower gels and toothpastes, however we didn’t know the full extent of the danger they pose to the environment. At less than 5mm wide, these beads act as little scrubbers on the skin and are made from synthetic materials which don’t biodegrade after disappearing down our sinks and into the waterways.
Although we’ve been switched on to the benefits of more natural cosmetic products for a while, the beauty industry has taken longer to clock on. A study published in the Environmental Science and Tech journal in September 2015 estimates that 8 trillion microbeads pass through sewage systems in America and are deposited into aquatic habitats every single day.
They pose a threat to aquatic creatures - who mistake them for food with the beads either suffocating them or becoming lodged in their system. On top of this, the particles can take hundreds of years to break down, contributing massively to the ecosystem, and in particular the world’s oceans.
So we got to thinking more generally about our own beauty routines - what to avoid and how to get the same scrubbed-up, exfoliated feeling without harming the environment. Exfoliating any area of the face or body allows the skin to shed dead skin cells, unblock pores and improve blood circulation, hopefully resulting in that much-desired healthy-looking glow. From sugar to ground almonds, exfoliation can come in all shapes and forms (and even from our supermarket shelves).
With so many natural options out there, it’s a wonder that cosmetic microbeads have been allowed to remain on the mass market for so long. There’s been no official findings to suggest that they are beneficial to the skin, and with such a multitude of research highlighting their negative environmental impact, we couldn’t be more pleased that the law has come into force.
So we’ve put together a mini-guide for a few of our go-to exfoliators, all available at Glasshouse Shop. Get scrubbing.
This multi-use wonder product really is one of our bathroom shelf favourites. It contains three types of clay (Kaolin, Calcium Bentonite and Rhassoul) which are great for removing toxins and giving dry, flaky skin the full nourishing works. Rice powder is the gentle exfoliator in this product, perfect for soothing irritating skin and giving that fresh, scrubbed feeling. Did we mention the beautiful apothecary-style glass jars? Love!
This New Zealand brand is a firm fixture at Glasshouse - their ethos of pure, clean skin and haircare is totally up our street and the products speak for themselves. Their all-over body exfoliant contains a base of sustainable, ultra-fine bamboo granules and organic shea butter - rich in minerals and silica which gently exfoliates without causing inflammation like plastic microbeads too. This can be used everywhere (body, face and even flaky lips) once a week for total rejuvenation.
Steering away from traditional exfoliators, this little dark grey puff is formulated from purifying Japanese Binchotan charcoal and the roots of a vegetable fibre called Konjac - which is rich in minerals and super detoxifying. The sponge can be used with or without soap, it’s 100% natural and should last a few months. The towel also contains the charcoal, woven into high performance polyester fibre and cotton. Use all over in the shower with soap and reap the benefits of this purifying natural resource - a truly modern exfoliator option!
All images: Charlie McKay for Glasshouse Shop