Skincare 101: Exfoliating

With the microbead ban ending of production & sales of exfoliating products using these tiny pieces of plastic in the US & UK (and soon other countries too), what will this mean for your skincare routine & which products are still safe to use?

what are microbeads & what is all the fuss about?..

Unless you having been living under a rock, or have no actual interested in the skincare and beauty industry, then you might have heard the term ‘microbeads’ mentioned a few hundred times in recent weeks as the UK passed a ban on the production of self-care products using microbeads in January, and will bring into force a second ban on the sale of such products in July. 

So, what are microbeads anyway?

Microbeads and tiny, tiny beads of plastic that are used in exfoliating products such as facial scrubs or exfoliating shower gels; they may not be very big or look like they can cause much harm, but they are unnecessary plastic products that are continuously being washed into our water systems and eventually our oceans. 

Recent studies have shown the excessive amounts of plastic waste that is floating around in our oceans and seas, damaging marine life and ecosystems and ultimately polluting our water, which since it makes up 70% of the earth’s surface, is pretty important. 

While banning the use of microbeads in self-care products isn’t going to solve our plastic pollution problems anytime soon, they are one of the more easier problems to tackle and a step in the right direction. 

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What does this mean for your skincare?..

You can check your existing skincare for microbeads simply by looking at the ingredients; if it has microbeads, after July you will no longer be able to buy it, and to be fair that’s probably a good thing from the ocean’s point of view.

I stopped using harsh exfoliators with microbeads or other harsh particles long before this microbead ban became a topic of conversation, I always found these kinds of products too harsh and abrasive on my skin and much prefer other alternative exfoliating options such as peels or natural scrubs like salt, sugar or coffee.

Why is exfoliating so important?..

Just because of the introduction of the ban on microbeads might mean your favourite cheap as chips scrub will no longer be available, doesn’t mean you should stop exfoliating

Exfoliating is essential for removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, and ultimately keeping your skin looking fresh, glowing and healthy. 

You should be exfoliating the skin on your face once or twice a week (not too often as the skin on your face is very sensitive and delicate) and doing a full body exfoliation as often as possible. 

Dry body brushing…

For full body exfoliation, the easiest, cheapest and probably the most effective form of exfoliation is dry body brushing. You can buy body brushes in most pharmacies and depending on what style you go for, they are relatively cheap. Dry body brushing not only removes dead skin cells, but it also boost circulation and can have a detoxifying effect on the skin – much better than a shower gel full of tiny plastic beads if you ask me. 

Start at your feet and brush in a circular motion moving upwards over your whole body before you shower for the best results. If you suffer from keratosis pilaris (also known as gooseflesh or chicken skin pimples) dry body brushing has been shown to reduce the appearance of the pimples and smooth the surface of the skin around the effected area. Dry body brushing is also good for combating cellulite

Facial peels…

Facial peels or peeling solutions are my preferred method of exfoliation for some time now; they involve a product that helps dissolve or lift the dead skin cells away, resulting in smoother skin.

Facial peels don’t require microbeads or exfoliating particles as they don’t work on the classic scrubbing method, instead they are more like a face mask; you apply a layer of product, you leave it to sit for a set amount of time and then you remove it. Some peeling gels require you to rub them into the skin until you start to notice bits of skin lifting away (I know, it sounds nasty) and then washing them off. 

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the hot cloth method…

Another way to insure you are getting your exfoliation in is to use the hot cloth method when you cleanse; much better than using wipes to remove your make-up is using cleansing balms or oils to melt away your make-up and then to use a muslin cloth and hot water to wash it all of. The muslin cloth is not only excellent at gently washing away any product, make-up or dirt on your face, but the weave of the fabric also give it an exfoliating property if you use circular motions as you wash you face

You can use a hot muslin cloth with soap or milky cleansers too, and it means you turn every cleanser you already own into an exfoliator with little extra expense

Alternatively, cleansing brushes have become very popular since the microbead ban was introduced in the states in 2015; these work best with soap cleansers but are really effective at not only exfoliating and cleansing the skin, but also for boosting circulation for an overall clearer and brighter complexion.

home made scrubs…

If the classic scrub is still your favourite way to go, there are still many products that don’t use microbeads and will still be available to purchase; many clay scrubs or organic scrubs use natural sourced grains such as sugar, salt or coffee which are better all-round as they dissolve in water and have extra benefits for your skin (for example coffee scrubs have been known to reduce the appearance of cellulite). 

You can always make your own scrubs at home too, using ingredients that you have right in your kitchen such as honey, coconut oil, sugar, salt or filter coffee. My favourite DIY scrub is 2 tbsp honey with 1 tsp filter coffee; the honey is booth soothing and, thanks to it’s natural antiseptic properties, great for fighting blemishes, while the coffee grains are fine enough to provide a gentle scrub.

shop my favourite exfoliators 

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