Pretty Good Thinking: Cruelty-free scrubbing

March of the Mermaids
March of the Mermaids

Microbeads are now ubiquitous, with knock-on effects in the environment and for wildlife.

It was great to catch the March of the Mermaids in Brighton and Hove Independent’s photo round-up of 2015. The organisers do a fine job of celebrating of our seas and sea life, while raising awareness of marine conservation in a playful way.

The fourth March of the Mermaids is on Saturday July 23. Think English Disco Lovers meets the Banana Splits with a Pride scale of glamour; gorgeous mermen, pirates and sea creatures parade along our shoreline. I particularly love seeing the dogs and babies getting into the spirit, and all profits are donated to the World Cetacean Alliance.

So what does the party have to do with beauty? Plenty, beyond dressing up in garish make up. It is unclear when plastic microbeads were first used in cosmetic and household formulations, but a patented skin-cleaner with “plastic synthetic resin” was granted in 1972. Microbeads are now ubiquitous, with knock-on effects in the environment and for wildlife.

They are usually too small to be removed from the water after they’ve gone down the drain, even after water treatment. Microbeads are non-biodegradable and get ingested by fish and other animals. Potentially toxic pollutants like Triclosan have been found to stick to the beads and are carried into the tissues of animals when consumed.

Most international cosmetic firms selling exfoliating washes and creams with polyethylene and other plastic microbeads say they are planning to phase them out. By now, some ranges will have been reformulated or sold through, but it still pays to check what is in your bathroom cabinet.

Exfoliating helps dull, dry or flakey skin to lose dead cells and more readily absorb moisturiser. Keep it up over winter but choose natural actives like jojoba bead granules or oatmeal for safer scrubbing. Check here if in doubt:

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub is £8 for a 110ml tube. The cruelty-free exfoliator helps to slough away dead skin cells to restore radiance (no Petroleum, SLS and Parabens).

The 99 per cent natural formulation has Lemon Balm to help calm and repair damaged skin, and Grapefruit to even skin tone and enhance luminosity. I revitalise weekly rather than daily, personally. Go easy around the eye area, whatever your age, and enjoy the delicate scent while you do circular motions across the forehead, nose and chin.