The Best Green Exfoliators
In Canada, the ban of microbeads, with some exceptions, was implemented at the beginning of last year. Luckily, the manufacture and import of all products containing them will be complete this upcoming July.
For those of you who do not know, plastic microbeads have long been used in personal care. In particular, exfoliating products, to make scrubbing agents uniform, spherical and small (ranging from 10 micrometres to less than 1 millimetre). While they provide gentle exfoliation in marketable colours, these plastics make their way into our water systems by washing down our drains. Microbead particles are so small that they cannot be filtered by wastewater treatment facilities. Ultimately they end up in lakes, rivers and oceans, adversely affecting marine life and our water quality.
If you still have leftover exfoliating products containing polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate, there is a good chance they contain microbeads. The time to change is now - and it’s easy, as there are so many excellent, results-focused healthy alternatives. Here are some of our faves:
Jojoba Wax Beads
One reason microbeads are used is that they are perfectly round, making them gentle on sensitive skin. However, this can easily be replicated by natural jojoba beads for a fantastic biodegradable solution. Made from natural jojoba wax, these beads will not cause micro-lacerations as they have no sharp edges and compress softly if pressed too hard. But don’t let their soft wax texture fool you, they still provide excellent exfoliation to remove dry, dead skin cells. Jojoba is ideal for sensitive skin types, prone to redness and can even be used daily.
Sea salt is a more abrasive natural exfoliant but its intensity is dependant on its coarseness. While coarse sea salt can be used for less sensitive areas such as the body, facial exfoliation should be done with micronized versions. One of the safest ways to use it on your complexion is through sea salt microdermabrasion treatments. These treatments use a machine that dispenses sea salt in a controlled fashion and are performed by trained estheticians who can control the amount and depth of your exfoliation. Sea salt microdermabrasion is excellent for refining pores, smoothing and reducing scars as well as diminishing pigmentation. Sea salt is also particularly beneficial for acne-prone skin due to its natural purifying qualities.
Olive Seed Powder
Sometimes we need some middle ground; olive seed powder is a good medium-abrasion exfoliant. This finely ground powder is made from drying, grinding, sifting, and irradiating premium quality olive seeds. It yields a more intense abrasiveness than jojoba wax but unlike sea salt, olive seeds will not dissolve in liquid so can be added to other products. When combined with your cleanser, it makes efficient two-in-one skincare. Olive seed powder also stimulates circulation for improved colour and facial tone.
Want to avoid scrubbing altogether? Fruit enzyme peels require no mechanical abrasion at all. The enzymes from fruit can be applied as a mask to digest rather than buff away dead skin cells. These are found in a variety of fruit options such as pear, peach, cherry and blackcurrants - and some non-fruit sources such as pumpkin and sugar cane. Fruit enzymes are excellent for treating dullness and dehydration by revealing new, hydrated skin under your dry top layer of the epidermis. This is especially good for skin with active blemishes that should avoid scraping or breaking pustules. Along with this, fruit peels rejuvenate skin as they temporarily stimulate circulation and blood flow, encouraging oxygenation as well as collagen production.
Kristen Ma is an Ayurvedic skincare specialist and the co-founder of Pure+Simple, a Canadian spa chain and retailer of natural beauty products.