Illinois Bans Microbeads and You Can Too with 10 Natural Exfoliants

Woman exfoliating

On the heels of the news that Illinois has become the first state in the world to ban plastic microbeads, here are 10 natural exfoliants to scrub your skin–and your conscience–clean.

While exfoliation rejuvenates your skin and enhances your complexion, who wants to ruin the environment in the process? Microbeads – those itty bitty plastic particles found in most face washes – are in the process of being scrubbed out of the beauty industry. Created as a more cost-efficient way to manufacture beauty products, they’ve been harming the environment in a big way.

Because of their size, microbeads slip through sewage system filters, polluting waterways and harming wildlife. (Preliminary studies in Lake Michigan have discovered millions of microbeads!). Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed legislation that bans the manufacture and sale of beauty products containing microbeads by the end of 2017. Currently, at least four other states are considering similar bills, with New York wanting microbeads eliminated even earlier (by 2016).

Here are 10 natural exfoliants that are plastic-free alternatives to microbeads that will keep your skin healthy, while doing good for the environment too:

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal isn’t just for cookies: It can also be used as a mild exfoliator, helping to remove dead skin cells and keep your skin hydrated. If you have sensitive skin, consider oatmeal your new BFF. You can either grind it to create a scrub, or create a DIY face mask.

2. Sea salt

Out of the natural alternatives to microbeads, sea salt is one of the more abrasive: Because the granules are larger than say, those found in a sugar scrub, sea salt scrubs work wonders on rougher areas of your skin, such as the heels of your feet.

3. Coffee grounds

While enjoying your morning cup of java, why not give your skin the royal treatment by exfoliating with coffee grounds? Simply combine one tablespoon of coffee grounds with half a tablespoon of olive oil and a drop of your fave essential oil.

4. Ground almonds

What I love about almond oil is that it makes your skin feel soft, but not greasy. Grind almonds in a blender (or if you have the biceps of Mr. Clean, with a mortar and pestle) and mix them with either milk or yogurt for a soothing face scrub.

5. Sugar

Sugar is an ah-mazing exfoliant option: It’ll help keep your skin hydrated while giving you a dose of glycolic acid, which helps prevent aging. Melt one tablespoon of coconut oil and mix it with three tablespoons of sugar – you won’t believe how soft this simple scrub will leave your skin!

6. Baking soda

Baking soda is one of my favorite natural alternatives to microbeads, mainly because it’s cost-effective and requires very little prep work. Plus, it’s versatile: You can use it in tandem with other natural alternatives during your at-home spa days. It’s a fine, yet hard powder, so it gets the job done without causing excessive irritation. Add a teaspoon to your fave face wash, mix well and massage into your skin.

7. Pumpkin

It’s not only delicious at Thanksgiving: Pumpkin’s enzymes and gentle acids make it a fabulous natural exfoliator. See for yourself with our pumpkin face mask recipes.

8. Lemon juice

The natural citric acids found in lemon juice make it a great exfoliator and skin hydrator. It contains antioxidants, which aids in the removal of dead skin cells, and acts as a toner by removing bacteria from the surface of the skin. Use the juice from one freshly squeezed lemon and mix with one tablespoon of sea salt for a refreshing face scrub.

9. Yogurt

As far as natural alternatives go, yogurt’s on the ball in every way: It contains anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities that fight against common skin conditions, not to mention lactic acid which helps exfoliate. Plus, it can be used with other natural alternatives (like oatmeal) to help you banish microbeads from your repertoire.

10. Honey

Honey contains many antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that help protect the skin and keep it hydrated. Mix one tablespoon raw honey and one tablespoon brown sugar and massage gently onto wet skin. Sayonara, microbeads!

Which natural alternatives to microbeads are your faves?

Related on EcoSalon:

Be Your Own Face Scrub Mix Master

Exfoliate From Head-to-Toe (Literally) with 4 Natural Scrubs

Is Your Facial Scrub Causing Widespread Water Pollution?

Image: Zenspa1

Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).