The Problem with Microbeads

Innovations in skin care technology occur at a much more frequent rate than one would think, but more often than not they fly under the radar. But, every once in a while, an innovation will occur that will seemingly disrupt the industry and become so widespread that you have no choice but to become aware of it. This has certainly been the case with the invention of microbead technology. If you walked down any cosmetics isle in the country, you would find at least a dozen items that have “Microbeads” printed right on the front of the packaging. This technology has been a huge selling point for numerous skin care lines over the past several years since adding it to tradition skin care products aides in exfoliate your skin, making the original product more effective. Since this product is so tiny and seemingly had no down side, no one stopped to consider what microbeads actually are or where they ended up. This was until concentrations of microbeads started showing up in increasing concentrations at the bottom of the Great Lakes.

 Lake Ontario Coastline

In late 2013, the Great Lakes were dredged with a fine net and the results were quite alarming. In Lake Michigan, it was determined that there are roughly 17,000 microbeads per square kilometer which seems like a lot, but that number was tame compared to the 1.1 million microbeads per square kilometer found in Lake Ontario. Even though the number of microbeads dumped into one of America’s main sources of drinking water is a point of concern in and of itself, you may be asking yourself what problems can this source of pollution specifically cause? Well unfortunately in this case, big problems come in tiny packages.

We will start the list of potential problems that micobeads are beginning to cause at the bottom of the food-chain and work our way up. The first problem is that, as these microbeads are being introduced into the fresh water ecosystems in the Great Lakes, they immediately start to suffocate the plant life around them. This of course effects several species of marine life relying on these plants for food. On top of that, these microbeads are around the same size and shape as fish eggs so many predators are mistaking them for food. Continuing our way up the food chain, the fact that these fish are ingesting the plastic beads is not only bad for the fish, but eventually bad for us humans as well. Since the microbeads are incredibly absorbent, as soon as they are introduced into the Great Lakes environment, they can begin absorbing any other pollutants that happen to be present. Therefore the small fish eat the pollutant-riddled beads, larger fish eat the smaller fish and so on until we end up eating the larger fish and suffer the effects of the absorbed pollutants.

Fortunately, this problem was caught somewhat early on, giving dermatologists enough time to come up with a safer option, as opposed to ridding the market of microbeads entirely. Certain environment-conscious cosmetic companies have begun to switch to biodegradable microbeads, and now Lira Clinical is proud to count themselves among the few. All of the exfoliating skin care products in the numerous Lira Clinical product lines use Eco-Beads, a newly developed, fully biodegradable alternative to traditional plastic microbeads.

So take a look at LiraClinical.com for exfoliating skin care that will protect your complexion as well as the environment!

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2 Comments

  1. Casey Durrett

    Thank you, Lira, for shedding light on this subject. Microbeads certainly remains a trend-term in the beauty industry, but I am sure very few people are aware of the environmental effects associated with them.

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