Microbeads are banned. Why are companies still using them?

The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 established that companies were no longer allowed to manufacture products containing microbeads as of July 2017. Stores were prohibited from selling beauty products containing microbeads as of July 2018. Microbeads in hollistic/natural health products and non-prescription drugs were banned in 2019.

According to the FDA.gov:

The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 prohibits the manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of rinse-off cosmetics containing plastic microbeads

This new law also applies to products that are both cosmetics and non-prescription (also called “over-the-counter” or “OTC”) drugs, such as toothpastes” (Source).

Microbead-Collage_750Photo Source: The News Minute 


But are US companies still selling products with microbeads in 2020?

I did a quick search on Amazon to see if any companies were still selling products with microbeads.

It didn’t take long to find them.

By searching “soap microbeads” Amazon propagated seven pages of results. By the third line down, a plastic bottle with the notorious blue beads was displayed: Clean & Clear Oil-Free Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub. I scrolled to the image with the ingredients listed and was happy to find a label at the bottom of the bottom that read “does not contain plastic microbeads.”

But then I *read* the ingredients:


5564926aecad0476190a15edPhoto Source: Business Insider


One of the ingredients was acrylate copolymer. And no matter what they want to call it, that’s plastic. 

Nat Geo:

“The main plastic being used in microbead-containing products is polyethylene—so, when buying [hygiene and beauty] a product that’s the main one to look for. Industry also likes to obscure the names of plastics in their products, so “acrylate copolymer” and “polypropylene” are two other words to look for and avoid” (Source).

[bold-face added]


Clean & Clear’s next listed product also had acrylate copolymers: Clean & Clear Morning Burst. How are companies continuing to get away with this?

I e-mailed them but have not heard back yet. I’ll update when if I do.

Look how proud they are of their 2019 post (four years after the microbead ban was enacted):

Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 11.30.19 PMSource: Clean & Clear via Facebook

Acrylate copolymer is still a listed ingredient in their Morning Burst wash.



FDA.gov: The Microbead-Free Waters Act: FAQs

National Geographic: What’s up with microbeads? An update on a tiny terror wreaking havoc in our waterways


Clean & Clear Search Results: “microbeads”

Amazon.com Search Results: “soap microbeads”


Featured Image: iStock

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