Microbeads and their use in cosmetics (and cleaning products) has been a bit of a hot topic recently. They're not fab for the environment due to their inability to biodegrade, and they aren't fab for sealife. This year saw the UK government take the first steps in banning microbeads, following on from America's pledge to ban at the end of 2015, as well as Canada, Australia, and South Korea also pledging to ban.
This is great news for environmental activists, and the environment in general, but for those who rely on products like Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, and Nip&Fab's scrub range, or any of the products on this list or this list (from beatthemicrobead), finding alternatives that are as effective or affordable can be a bit daunting. Thankfully, the list of microbead free products is quite sizeable and growing quickly, but I thought I'd share 5 of my favourite, affordable, microbead free scrubs.
SkinFood: Black Sugar Mask range (not pictured)
SkinFood does a wonderful range of scrubs that are microbead free, and as a roadshop/drugstore brand, isn't going to do too much damage to your bank account. The Black Sugar product line harnesses the different properties of sugar and what they can do for the skin, but I feel that it really gets a chance to sing in the way of the sugar scrubs. The scrubs use the sugar particles as the exfoliating agent to effectively cleanse the face of any dead skin cells and collected grime.
They're incredibly effective, I've used both the strawberry and black sugar variations when I was in Korea and trying to shift a really bad patch of flaky skin and it got right through that, so bear in mind that it can be quite harsh on sensitive skin types.
Black Sugar Mask range:
Perfect Essential Scrub (210g: 15000W; £10.40)
Strawberry Mask Wash Off (100g: 8800W; £6.05)
Black Sugar Mask Wash Off (100g: 7700W; £5.30)
Honey Mask Wash Off (100g: 8800W; £6.05)
A new player in the world of scrubs, with brands like Frank Body and Scrub Love using coffee for something other than your morning pick-me-up. The coffee is usually mixed with essential oils to sooth, and sea salt to help the exfoliation process. Coffee scrubs are a natural way to get rid of all the grime without the need for microbeads. They're for full body use, packed with antioxidants, and surprisingly the same pH as your skin, so no dryness or extra oiliness.
I really love coffee scrubs, and a while back reviewed Scrub Love's Mint Temptation if you'd like to go and read what I think of them in more detail!
Frank Body coffee scrub £11.95
Scrub Love coffee scrub £11.95
Seeds instead of beads
Increasingly, companies are now switching to more natural methods of exfoliating products in face scrubs, using seeds, cranberry powder, and bamboo extract in place of microbeads. These products are more your regular cream based facial scrubs, less messy than the coffee alternatives, and probably a little gentler than the sugar scrubs. The Green People do these sorts of products very well, I quite enjoy using the Fruit Scrub.
The Green People Fruit Scrub (50ml: £13.50)
Foaming Face Wash
I know these have a bit of a bad reputation in the western world, but in Asian skincare foaming face washes or foaming cleansers are pretty big in the weekly routines. Used after an oil cleanse (so in a double cleanse procedure), they help lift any of the residue left on the skin, as well as dead cells and the bits the oil left. They're another alternative to microbeads in the sense that microbeads are usually used in products designed for a pretty harsh exfoliation, and using gentle foaming cleansers twice to three times a week can mimic that weekly deep-cleanse.
I'm particularly fond of the Innisfree Green Tea cleansing foam as it's very gentle but very effective. The Jeju Volcanic Pore cleansing foam also by Innisfree is popular too, as well as the Too Cool For School Morocco Ghassoul Foam Cleanser.
Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Foam (150ml: £8.16)
Too Cool For School Morocco Ghassoul Foam Cleanser (150ml: 9500W; £6.54)
Baking Powder and Egg White cleansers
A little different to the foaming face washes, Korea also has some very heavy duty alternatives to microbeads. The Baking Powder Deep Cleansing foam by Etude House is probably one of the most effective deep cleansing products I've ever put on my face. The active ingredient here is the baking powder, and it does a wonderful job at extracting everything. I use this sparingly, as in, times when my skin really needs an effective deep cleanse, or days when I've worn very heavy studio-type makeup and need it off my skin.
Egg White cleansers use egg whites (clue is in the name, there) as the active ingredient, as egg whites have astringent properties which can help with pores, oiliness, wrinkles, acne scars and acne in general. They're pretty fab, tightening and lifting the skin, as well as being packed with amino acids, so are often features in Korean masks and cleansers. They're generally less of a heavy hitter than the Baking Powder cleansers, but do a pretty good job at cleansing the face with no trace of a microbead.
Etude House Baking Powder Deep Cleansing Foam (160ml: 8800W; £6.05)
SkinFood Egg White Pore Foam (150ml: 8000W; £5.51)
You can find a current list of products that are microbead free courtesy of beatthemicrobead here, and I hope that you've found this a little bit helpful.
Let me know if you've tried any of these products yourself, or if you have any other microbead free recommendations!