Beat the MicroBeads – Get the App

Posted by on Oct 19, 2014 in Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Health, Product Information | 34 comments

Microbeads are causing non-reversible damage to our Great Lakes and Global Waterways; they are contaminating freshwater fish and eventually will move up the food chain to negatively impact our health.

MicroBeads are tiny polyethylene balls that are added to many cleaning, personal care and cosmetic products. They add a scrubbing action to the product and because they’re little balls they do this gently. 

According to beat the microplastics are defined as plastic pieces of fibre measuring less that 5mm. The microbeads found in personal care products are almost always smaller than 1mm.

microbeads  frugalforeveryone

Showing minute size of microbeads

The Problems with MicroBeads:

Microbeads are so small that they bypass sewage filter systems and make their way into the Great Lakes and other bodies of water. They are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment they are impossible to remove. McGill University Researchers collected sediment from ten locations along a 320-km section of the St. Lawrence river from Lake St. Francis to Quebec City. At some locations they measured over 1,000 microbeads per litre of sediment – “a magnitude that rivals the world’s most contaminated ocean sediments”.

CBC News – Microbead

Microbeads float on the water where they act like small magnets attracting carcinogenic chemicals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like PCB and DDT. Even though the use of POPs has been banned for decades residues are still found in our lakes today. Fish eat the contaminated beads thinking they are a source of food making it a very real possibility – or probability – that these pollutants will move up the food chain to eventually impact us.

What are MicroBeads used for?

Microbeads are used in a large variety of personal care products.  The products shown in the picture below are only a small sampling of the many containing microbeads.


Some of the many products that contain microbeads

Microbeads are also used in toothpaste but according to dentist Dr. Justin Phillip in an article by microbeads shouldn’t be anywhere near your mouth. “They’ll trap bacteria in the gums which leads to gingivitis and over time that infection moves from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth and that becomes periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is scary.”

What we can do.

There is an International App available for download to smartphones that will identify products that contain microbeads from: Beat the microbead org.

Many companies have pledged to stop using microbeads but with some this won’t be completed until 2018 and others haven’t pledged at all. Maybe if we don’t buy their products we can hurry this process along. Nothing gets action faster than loss of revenue.

The App will read the bar code and indicate – using colour coding, whether microbeads are present in the product.

  • Red: Product contains microbeads;
  • Orange: This product still contains microbeads, but the manufacturer has indicated it will replace in a given timeframe or adapt the products accordingly;
  • Green: This product is free from plastic microbeads.

Other ways to identify microbeads in products is to look for – PE, PP, PMMA, PET, Nylon – in the ingredient listing.

Remember: Microbeads are not necessary – there are a number of natural ingredients that can be used to replace the microbead that will cause no harm to our waterways or to our health.

This isn’t just a local concern but a global one. I am very proud to say that my birth country Holland was the first one to recognize the dangers and brought it to the attention of the EU while actively pursuing the ban of microbeads in all consumer products. Today there are several states in the USA that have banned the use of microbeads in consumer products which is a great start. However, to our shame Canada has so far failed to act and since we share the Great Lakes with the USA their efforts won’t do much to stop the pollution unless we follow suit. In the meantime, while we wait for legislators to decide to do something about this we do have the power to influence the sale of products. We can assert this power by downloading the App on our smartphones and stop buying products that contain microbeads.

Update: January 2018 – Many countries including Canada, the UK and the USA have banned the use of microbeads in personal care products. Effective July 1, 2018 Canada will complete the ban by also banning the use of microbeads in non-prescription drugs and certain natural health products.

There are still many countries who do not participate in the ban and products manufactured there may make their way to our store shelves. Let’s continue to PARTICIPATE IN THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN to stop the use of microbeads in products.

I encourage everyone who reads this to share with all their social media contacts. Let’s inundate the social media world and really get the word out. We know that works so let’s do it. This is a serious unnecessary problem but only by collectively taking action can we make a difference.

Talk to to you again soon,


Please share this post so together we can stop imported microbeads from further polluting our waterways.

Get the app  app

Download the Beat the Microbead 3.0 app to scan your products on microplastic ingredients.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the app store








  1. I’ve never heard of microbeads before. I will start paying attention to what products I use.

  2. I was not aware of micro beads and this is new to me but quite disturbing. It is good to be aware of this kind of information.

  3. Unfortunately I have never heard of this but , also unfortunately, it does not surprise me that we are producing more harmful components that get flushed out never to be dissolved away. I wonder what is going to happen to the world when she just says, I’ve had it.

    • I just get really angry thinking about the way we’re destroying this world and what’s worse, that people don’t seem to care. Unless they’re on the list to travel to Mars they better consider that this is the only world we have and we’re are passing it on to future generations in a mess. I wouldn\t want my granchildren to be handed a dirty neglected house so why would I hand them a world in that condition?

  4. Hi Lenie! I didn’t realize that these microbeads were an environmental hazard. I never would have suspected it of those containing cocoa beans or apricot shells. I really don’t use many personal care products but have used one of those pictured here. Thanks for letting us know about this! Did you see the microbeads in crest toothpaste getting lodged in people’s gums? Dentists are finding them. They’ve promised to have the beads removed from all of their products by 2016.

    • Hi Angela – the products containing cocoa beans and apricot shells aren’t the problem – they will break up without causing any damage. The real problem is with the plastic microbeads – we’re stuck with those forever.

  5. I stopped using products with microbeads a few years ago but not for environmentally conscious reasons. They just don’t perform well for me as opposed to natural ingredients like apricot shells or nut shells. I had no idea that microbeads were so harmful to the environment and our waterways. Thanks for sharing this info, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

  6. Lenie — I was also ignorant of microbeads. Thanks for the heads-up. Why would you need a scrubbing action for hand cream, for goodness sake.

  7. I have heard of this, but only in passing. I do use ProActiv facial scrub and have for years, so I’m going to download the app and see if they’re on the list.

  8. I had no idea. I know garbage in the oceans is a huge problem with islands of plastic floating around. But I didn’t know about the microbeads and am pretty sure I use at least one product that contains them.

    I’m also sure that if it becomes common knowledge the products will quickly fall out of favor and companies will stop using them. Growing up aerosol spray cans were found to be dangerous to the environment (ozone) so people stopped using them. You virtually can’t find a spray on deodorant anymore and I always found hair sprays that weren’t aerosols for the same reason.This can be stopped as well.

  9. Hello Lenie

    Thank you for a great post. I was using clean and clear products that have small I called them as “granules”. Now i know they are (micro beads). I left its use as I felt that they damage my skin when I rub their products and at times hurt me , but I never thought a small tiny ball that caused a little problem for me and I left it is a cause of big problem and pollution around the world. I am happy that I have left many products from pictures that have micro beads. It is necessary to ban micro beads and ban in one country will not do much we must raise voice against this globally.

  10. Lenie- I love your posts because they are a wealth of information. I had no idea about the hazards of micro beads. I remember going to a hotel that had a wash with that felt like sand. I remember even asking the woman at the spa, doesn’t this clog the drain. Not thinking beyond that hazards of the environment. Her answer was no that it was all natural. Thank you for making me aware to this. Next thing I will do is check my toothpaste.

  11. Wow, I had no idea! Yet another reason why using more natural products is a good idea. I don’t think I have any of these, and I will be sure that I don’t buy these products in the future. Thanks for introducing us to the app, that’ll make it a lot easier to know.

  12. Gosh, I’ve really never thought of how harmful those can be. I’ve personally ditched most of cosmetics and put coconut oil and organic sunscreens on my skin whenever possible, but I need to take a look at the toothpaste also. So thanks Lenie!

  13. I totally agree with Ken. It seems like any and everything that is made is damaging to our environment as well as our health. Thank you for sharing this. I will be passing this on.

    • I’m glad to hear you’re passing this on Niekka -I really hope to raise awareness of this problem by writing this post.

  14. It’s frustrating that we have such a long history of producing things that damage the environment and there never seems to be any end to it. Wonder at what point the manufacturers became aware of this and how they can justify ignoring it.

    • Ken, I think the manufacturer’s have knows for a long time – we know plastic pollutes but still they added plastic balls to products even though that wasn’t needed. There were alternative natural products available, but like you said – it’s frustrating.

  15. Since I first heard of this several months ago I have made sure I got rid of everything I had that contained micro beads. Luckily it wasn’t much. And most of it was stuff left here by previous room mates. I am mostly an old fashioned bar soap and water girl. Not one for fancy shower gels and face creams etc. Not something I need. (I hate the “slimy” dangerous tub that these gels etc can cause.) Watch some household cleaners also. Keep an eye out for items that are “soft scrub” as they may also contain them. I don’t have any children, so no worries about the damage we do the environment that way, but I hopefully have many more years to go on this earth and would like to not be poisoned by totally unnecessary things floating around my world.

    • Thanks for pointing out about the cleaners Nancy. You’re absolutely right on that. It does make you wonder when we will start putting our health and a safe environment before greed. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come at to big a cost.

  16. I’m afraid that in the USA that everything becomes political. If, say, someone who is a Democrat would propose banning these stupid and harmful microbeads, the Republicans would insist that it’s a plot or something like that.

    • Oh Beth, I know exactly what you mean – we get quite a bit of news from the States but Canada has some things to answer for too. I often wonder if people who produce those polluting kind of things have children. If they did, wouldn’t you think they would want to hand them a healthy place to live?

  17. Microbeads should definitely be forbidden. BUT in the whole world. It doesn’t make much difference if just one country forbids them. The European Union forbids this kind of particles on a continous basis. But it doesn’t have much impact when the rest of the world doesn’t. The EU only represents about 11% of the worlds population. Am all for doing what’s good for the environment but the whole world needs to cooperate if it’s going to have the impact desired.

    • I totally agree Catarina and that is why, just in our little corner of the world, if the States are going to have any impact on the Great Lakes, we need to participate. But since this is a global problem, we definitely need to have a global ban.

  18. Very useful for certain Lenie. I’ll be checking the label on the Gold Bond creams I use. I don’t have any of the other ones in your pic. Now toothpaste how odd, but it explains why when possible I do use all things natural But still, I’ll check the label on my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. I have some little Crest samples from the dentist office so I’ll toss those. Going to download that app right now.

    Thanks for keeping us safe.

    • Patricia, since I started blogging and doing research I feel almost as if we should go back and grow our foods and make our own products like the old time pioneers did. Aren’t we doing some kind of lousy job on the world we’re going to be handing to our grandchildren.

  19. OMG! I am SO glad you brought this to my attention. I haven’t read a thing about this! We have enough problems with polluting our beautiful waters and marine life…we can certainly do without these micro-beads in beauty products. I will check all of mine straight away and dump the ones that have them! Thanks Lenie. truly, this is an important issue.

    • Hi Jacquie – glad to hear you’re going to be dumping the stuff – just be careful where you dump it. I am truly getting tired of the ‘don’t care’ approach taken by many corporations. Somewhat similar to the smoking when the manufacturers knew cigarettes were harmful but we were blissfully unaware and kept puffing away. Greed is rampant.

  20. I had not heard of microbeads before reading this. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    • Hi Donna, I just recently learned about microbeads myself but certainly thought the issue was important enough to raise awareness. Glad to see the shares happening.

  21. Well Lenie, just from looking at the photo i know I’m using products with mircrobeads. Ive never heard about this before. Thanks for sharing. Ill download the app pronto. 🙂

    • Susan, I am so glad you’re going to be downloading the app. If we stop buying the products and corporations start losing revenue things will change and fast. Scary stuff, isn’t it?

  22. I was in a hotel earlier this week and was dismayed to discover that the shower gel they provided had micro beads. What’s the point of telling me they are an environmentally conscience hotel (and so reuse the towels) and then putting stuff with micro-beads in for guests?

    Industry has said they are phasing them out of use, but I like most things that are not legislated with a hard stop, so slow and so little. I hope it won’t be too late.

    • Hi Debra, I guess that being environmentally conscious only matters if it saves the business time and money. Less Laundry, less cost and the towels last longer. But the shower gel, I doubt if anybody even considered that. That’s why it is important that we raise awareness.

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