A Ban on Glitter and Exfoliating Scrubs?


Sidney Moyers, Associate Editor-in-Chief

It seems like we all really either love or really hate glitter. It  adds flair to makeup, it can spice up a birthday card, and it always adds a little sparkle to crafts and posters, but there are some major problems that come with it. It gets everywhere (I’m sure someone has gotten mad at you over it or you’ve gotten mad at someone else for using it) and it never goes away – no matter how many times you’ve washed that shirt!  But did you also know it’s bad for the environment as well as the creatures who inhabit it, including humans and sea life. This is why scientists are proposing a ban against the colorful particles of plastic.

According to Cnet.com, glitter is a microbead, or a small piece of plastic, so it has the ability to pass through all kinds of filtration systems, but it never actually disintegrates. So, after eventually making its way into the ocean like most human waste does, it ends up being swallowed by fish and marine life.

California became the first state in the U.S. to make restrictions on glitter in 2015. So far, seven other states have followed California in their mission to help marine life. While this is a great start, scientists are still worried about the long-term effect on our oceans, so they are encouraging other states to follow along.

This year, the UK plans to put a ban on all microbeads in cosmetics, according to Express.co.uk. This ban includes certain face scrubs, toothpastes, and shower gels.

If you’re like me and care what you’re putting into your environment, but still wants that nice exfoliating face scrub, all you have to do to help is read the labels. According to Dr. Natalie Welden, an ecotoxicology researcher at the Open University, “To spot a product which contains microbeads, look out for ingredients with ‘poly’ in front such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. Or if you don’t have time to look at ingredient lists, head to fauna-flora.org and download the Good Scrub Guide.”

Many plastic alternatives are actually more gentle on your skin too, so you might want to consider switching if you’re having skin problems.

These microbeads are small and seemingly harmless, but the devastating truth is that even one piece of this plastic will last for thousands of years. So, it’s important to use biodegradable products whenever possible. Even our small efforts towards change can make a huge difference in the environment.