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Scrubs and peels put plastics in the sea

Microplastics in our beauty products = microplastics in our sea


Make your pledge to go microbead free


It seems unbelievable, but it's true: many personal care products like scrubs and peels now contain plastic particles. So, every time we exfoliate or peel off those dead cells, we may be doing our bodies some good, but we're giving our seas anything but a make-over. As the products are rinsed off, they go down the drain and that means we are flushing plastic into our seas where it contributes to the 'plastic soup' problem.

Beating the Bead

The Beat the Microbead campaign, of which MCS is a member, is asking the manufacturers of these care products to replace all plastic particles with environmentally friendly alternatives, such as anise seeds, sand, salt or coconut. These are materials that were used before plastic particles.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Litter Policy Officer, says: "It's incredible how many everyday products contain micro plastic beads. These find their way through our sewers and into our seas where they are easily eaten by all sorts of marine animals. Help us stop the practice of putting these microplastics in products by signing the petition and checking out products at home. This App and website is a great resource for those who want to have plastic free products. The micro plastics in these products are so small that our sewage works cannot deal with them,  so if used they are essentially washed straight out to sea”.

Until they take notice, it is important that we do not use care products with plastics. You too can help to end the plastic soup in the ocean. Check the list of ingredients on the label. A range of solid microplastics are found within cosmetics and personal care products, with the most common being:

- Polyethylene / Polythene (PE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
- Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
- Nylon

Get all the details by reading our statement on microplastics we've put together.

Are there microplastics in your scrub?  

In October 2013 an international version of the ‘Beat the Microbead’ App was launched, which previously had only been available to Dutch consumers.

The App works by scanning the barcode of products and telling the shopper whether or not the product contains plastic microbeads. Products are divided into the categories Red, Orange and Green.  Red: the product contains microbeads; Orange: the product contains microbeads but the manufacturer has pledged to stop using microbeads in the near future; Green, the product does not contain microbeads.

Download the App at

Similarly, Fauna & Flora International have also launched the Good Scrub Guide which lists products that do not contain plastic microbeads and indicates which brands are taking positive steps toward removing plastic microbeads from their products. 

N.B. the App and the Good Scrub Guide are still in development and only a small number of products are listed. 

You can help develop these guides. Please use our online form to report any products containing microplastics. We will pass on this information so the App and guide can be improved.

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