In case you are unaware, microbeads are teeny, tiny pieces of plastic, 5 mm wide or less, which have been commonly used in personal care products such as cleansers, exfoliators and toothpaste for several years now. Recently, we have begun to see just how detrimental these little pieces of plastic are to our waterways and our oceans, as trillions of these beads are being washed down the sink on a daily basis.
They then end up in the food chain, as fish and other members of the oceanic kingdom consume the beads, and we in turn consume them. What’s worse, they actually absorb up to a million times more toxins than the surrounding water, becoming tiny, concentrated balls of toxins — toxins that, again, end up in our own bellies.
Luckily, a bill has been passed in the U.S. to completely ban the use of microbeads, though it unfortunately does not take effect until 2018. This begs the question, should we wait for this ban to take place, or should we take matters into our own hands and try out some all natural, biodegradable alternatives? I’ll take the latter.
1. Dry Brushing
Dry brushing is simply amazing. It is likely the easiest, most cost effective way to naturally exfoliate your skin and let the natural beauty shine through. Dry brushing is an ayurvedic practice that involves taking a dry brush (preferably with natural fibers) and whisking it gently across the surface of your skin before cleansing. Because this method actually brushes off the older layers of skin, you may not even need to use soap afterwards. This method can be used on the entire surface of your body and your face. Because the skin on the face is more sensitive, a special brush specifically for your face is needed.
2. Baking Soda
Ahh… the many practical uses for baking soda! If this isn’t a staple in your personal care products yet, it certainly should be. There are many things baking soda can be used for, and exfoliation is definitely one of them. Simply apply warm water to your face and dip your fingers in baking soda, rub gently in circular motions, and then rinse away. Ta-Da! Glowing skin.
Any sugar is likely to work, but remember, what goes on your body goes in your body, so your best bet is to choose an organic cane sugar. Sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid, and its high acidity and easy solubility make it an excellent exfoliant. Try mixing it with a little cold pressed olive or coconut oil, and/or lemon juice. Apply warm water to your face and rub the mixture on gently in circular motions before rinsing off and patting dry.
4. Sea Salt
Sea salt is fairly coarse, so I wouldn’t recommend this method for those with sensitive skin. If you do use this method, be very gentle and don’t do it too often. The same technique can be applied to the salt as the sugar listed above.
5. Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds provide an excellent texture to gently exfoliate and energize the skin, and give us a great way to get a little more use out of our morning coffee. Consider adding 1-2 drops of pure essential oils like lavender, grapefruit, or lemon for an added burst of freshness.
6. Honey & Strawberries
Much like the choice of sugar above, it is important to get organic honey as well, particularly raw honey, which still has all of its incredible healing enzymes and will be much more beneficial to your skin. Mash up some strawberries with some honey and apply to the face, then use the same techniques as listed above. Honey is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and the strawberry seeds will assist with the process of exfoliation.
7. Avocado (Including the Pit!)
Finally a use for those avocado pits! Next time you have an avocado, save the pit and place it on the counter or somewhere out in the open so it can dry out for about a week or so. Then, using a coffee grinder or high-powered blender, blend the pit with half a ripe avocado, and there you go — an amazing, all natural exfoliant! Apply to face the same way as listed above.
Oatmeal is said to have a calming effect on the skin, and using it as an exfoliant is an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin. Just mix a little bit of oatmeal to some warm water and rub all over the face and neck before rinsing off and patting dry.