How to exfoliate without harmful microbeads
Where the U.S. leads, Britain usually follows, and last year the country moved to ban microbeads in cosmetics. Microbeads are the tiny plastic spheres found in exfoliating scrubs and other beauty products. Problem is they’re so small that tonnes of the little suckers are washed into the environment in the UK each year where they can be eaten or swallowed by marine life such as fish and mussels, and eventually - your stomach. Now that the U.S. have banned them, momentum is growing for the U.K. to follow suit following pressure from campaigners Greenpeace, and with companies such as L'Oreal and Estee Lauder promising to phase them out over the coming years. But there’s no need to wait until then. There are plenty of ways to exfoliate without the use of the damaging microbeads. Here are our top tips for revealing a brighter complexion without the environmentally unfriendly plastic.
If you can't let go of the feel of a good scrub-down just yet, plenty of companies offer natural alternatives, from ground apricot kernels and seeds to rice powder or clay, that will give you that clean, shiny and new skin you crave. If you like the feeling of a proper scrub, swap one with microbeads for a natural formula like Liz Earle's Gentle Face Exfoliator, which contains fine jojoba beads to buff away dead skin cells. Or try a microexfoliant - a powder-like substance which fizzes into life when mixed with water. Instead of microbeads, Nude's Detox Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash uses crushed rose hip seeds and vanilla orchid seeds to scrub away impurities the natural way.
Exfoliation isn't always about applying a product and then washing it straight off. Products containing AHAs & BHAs use skin-safe, naturally occurring or synthetic, chemical compounds for effective exfoliation in the form of a leave on serum. Look for formulas containing glycolic acid (from sugar cane) or lactic acid (from milk). Glycolic acid is a great way to exfoliate without the need for manual scrubbing, as it gets deep into pores, leaving skin smooth and clear. Sunday Riley's lactic-acid packed formula Good Genes can be worn everyday as a serum. But if you prefer a rinse off exfoliator, Peter Thomas Roth's Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Cleansing Gel pairs glycolic acid with fragrant rose. It dissolves dead skin cells to revealing a brighter, clearer complexion. Apply a generous amount of gel to wet skin. Massage the skin gently until a light lather forms. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.
Facial brushes have given beauty lovers new options for deep cleansing other than abrasive exfoliators. Devices like the original Clarisonic, which promises to clean skin up to six times deeper than your hands, have been swiftly adopted by the beauty pack because of its skin clearing skills.
The cleansing brush uses oscillating technology - the head moves back and forth rather than spinning in quick circles - to gently remove dead surface cells, pollution, and sebum. Facial brushes are much gentler than regular exfoliants and easy to use. Fill the middle of the brush with your favourite cleanser and keep it wet as you brush. Don’t use on the sensitive eye area, and never use an exfoliating cleanser with an electric face brush as it will irritate your skin. Foreo’s Luna 2 Facial Cleansing Brush uses silicone touch-points instead of bristles along with T-Sonic pulsations, to exfoliate. It’s extremely gentle on skin and doesn't require constant brush head replacements.
Korean beauty devotees are stuck on Konjac Sponges because of their excellent exfoliation properties. Gentle enough to be used every day and naturally antibacterial, they're a great option for those with sensitive skin.