Microbeads, the tiny plastic particles found mostly in cleansers and toothpaste, have been in news pretty recently as we discover more about their detrimental effect on the environment. The microbeads wash down the drain, pass through sewage treatment because they’re so small, and end up in our wild bodies of water. The microbeads actually absorb the toxins from the sewage, becoming poisonous to the fish and animals who eat them – because microbeads look like their food. These fish and animals end up with the toxins, and humans go on to eat them.
Loblaws has stated it will end the use of microbeads in their President’s Choice and Life brand products, and I hope that other companies will take notice and follow their lead. However, you don’t have to wait for companies to change their ways to get a healthy, eco-friendly scrub down and softer, smoother skin. There are many natural alternatives that you probably have in your kitchen right now. Here are six natural exfoliants with which to replace microbeads.
Salt particles are larger and more coarse than some of these other options making it a good scrub for hands, feet, elbows, and other areas that get rough or callused. It works well at rubbing away dry and dead skin. The simplest way to use salt is by combining it with a little bit of oil. Essential oils can also create additional benefits.
In addition to the gentle abrasion of sugar particles, the glycolic acid present in sugar also helps the dead skin cells release. Sugar is finer and more round than salt making it an ideal scrub for your face, including your lips. It’s also a more gentle option to prepare legs before shaving. Again, combine with oil to use, essential oils optional.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is even finer again making it less abrasive and thus gentle for use on your face. I’ll be posting a recipe soon for a blackhead scrub that uses baking soda. In the meantime, you can use water to make a paste or add a tiny amount daily to your cleanser.
Oats are probably the most gentle of these exfoliants making it the best option for those with sensitive skin. The oats will also soak up excess oil present on the skin. Grind oats in a blender or food processor first, then add water to make a paste.
5. Coffee Grounds
Coffee comes with the added benefit of caffeine which has been shown to reduce puffiness of the skin and even treat cellulite. I’ve got a cellulite scrub recipe coming soon as well. I recommend using this one in the shower because it can get a little messy. Combine the coffee grounds, fresh or brewed (recycling!) are both okay, with a little bit of oil.
6. Citrus Juice
Citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges, contain alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which releases the dead skin cells from the rest of the skin. Citrus juice can also have a lightening effect on the skin and may cause it to become more sensitive to the sun. Apply after cleansing for some no-scrub exfoliation, then rinse with water.
What do use to exfoliate your skin?