Plastics in your face scrub and body wash

The topic sounds nothing off beat considering the purpose of this blog…But this is a must read for every Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) user.

Picture this-

You are watching your favourite TV show and during the commercial break you see a young woman bathing herself under a gushing water fall, or in a river/ocean setting. The music, screenplay, the beautiful model and the claims made in this 30 seconds ad and you are impressed! The next time you are in a super market, you reach out to buy the very same body wash/scrub/face wash.

The ad agency has done its job right, makes money gets out of the picture. The cosmetics company manufactured the product, stocks it in the super market shelf and you buy it and they get their money worth or more in some cases and they move on.  And what do you end up with? a detergent based liquid full of sulfur compounds and artificial colours and flavours all in a glossy plastic bottle. You like it, you continue buying it; You hate it, you shift your choice. Sounds familiar? If yes, it is not just you but 9 out of 10 consumers fall under this category. Having heard this, are you shooing away the very idea of giving this whole thing a thought?

The next time you look at a face wash/scrub commercial and it claims to have micro granules that leave your face extra shiny, think again. There is nothing “micro granular” hidden in it. I was shocked as you are right now. Call me boring but I never dared to buy anything with micro things in anything, this one took me by surprise. Exfoliating ingredients in every brand name face wash or a body wash, is nothing but tiny particles of polyethylene which act as the “scrubbing particles” and wash down the drain and eventually into nearest water sources. Here is an image of all the micro beads in the wash (magnified)

image courtesy: link

These granules are very tiny so cannot be trapped or treated by a water treatment system. Hence, end up in our water sources – rivers, streams, oceans.

Stop and think about the impact that very consumer good had on your health or the environment?

It is really hard to ignore that every product we come across in the super market aisle has a drastic impact on the ecology. Before we take this issue with a pinch of salt, let us understand that these tiny particles do not bio-degrade, i.e., they cannot break down into their inital compounds and there by do not blend into our eco system. They get into the food chain and eventually onto our food plates. This includes the vegetarians.

Marine biologists have seen a major change in genetic patterns among sea creatures and the human population living near by. This could ony be th tip of an ice berg. I am not trying to get frantic about these scrubs or the micro beads they claim to carry, but what worries me is that we humans do not take the impact we cause on the environment.

What is alarming is the total annual sales quoted by these brand name products across the world. The statistics just don’t add up as these companies deny any :major” impact these products cause on the environment. They are busy filling their coffers. So let’s do our part and be aware as a consumer and think twice before we see ourselves experimenting with these products. Remember, every product you are trying is a statistic for the company and it is your approval/ vote as a consumer for the manufacturer to continuing production, supply, distribution and stocking. For them you are just a statistic. I am yet to find just one company which, might as well be a tiny part of the corporate world, but works and operates keeping every aspect of its social responsibility in mind. Are there any genuine corporate citizens out there?

A further research landed me with a set of brand name products who have been tested to use earth friendly ingredients. These products are expensive but are worth the money spent. I am not here to promote any particular brand or de-fame the “plastic” ones. It is just a small information I thought would be great to share. And i hope you, as a conscious consumer knows what you are doing. The research done in this area is taken seriously by the health and environment certifying agencies as the vested interests have made sure of staying clear of controversy. It is sad that there is very little acknowledgment about existing of this issue. But that is no reason for us to ignore what has come to our attention. Major cosmetic companies including Procter and Gamble, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Neutrogena, L’Oréal and Dove produce facial scrubs that contain polyethylene plastic. And come to think of it they are the face of the cosmetic industry. If the list includes all of them, then it is for us to do our part.

This takes me back to the marketing basics learnt in Business School – Caveat emptor – BUYER BEWARE!

3 thoughts on “Plastics in your face scrub and body wash

  1. Hi Sudha

    This is new information for me. Thanks for sharing. It is indeed shocking to note how unbio-degradable particles are finding their way into our daily life.
    Can you please share link or resources that list “safe” body washes and scrubs?


  2. Hi Iniyaazh

    I am glad you read the post. I am researching on the list of companies who say are earth friendly. I plan to write another post soon. Thank you for your prompt comment and the visit.

    take care.


  3. Would love to get a list of companies that are considered safe .. kindly enlighten us with that information. Good post that instils lot of awareness.


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