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Last week, a unanimous vote by the U.S. Senate approved a bill that will eventually ban all beauty products containing plastic microbeads. That’s great news for the environment: 1.4 trillion plastic microbeads (a single tube of exfoliating cleanser with microbeads can contain more than 350,000) enter U.S. waterways every year, as they’re too small to be captured by wastewater facilities. They pollute lakes, rivers, and oceans and create toxins, which spells trouble when fish mistake them for food. A recent study noted that one quarter of fish found at California fish markets had ingested plastic. Good job, world.
It’s startling to scan an ingredients list and see how many exfoliators from respected brands are still holding on to the use of microbeads. That will all be over by July 1, 2018, when the sale of products containing microbeads will officially be banned, but in the meantime it’s still not uncommon to spot acrylates copolymer or polyethylene being used in a scrub. But for every brand that hasn’t caught on yet, there are two that are way ahead of the game. These 10 popular face scrubs go to show that there is life—and a happier, healthier environment, and seriously soft skin—after microbeads.
Koh Gen Do Soft Gommage Gel, $45
The unfussy packaging of this makes it an unassuming choice, but the blend of chrysanthellum extract, caffeine, and sage and rosemary extracts leaves skin clean, calm, and glowing. Plus, the peeling gommage action makes it pretty fun to use.
Ole Henriksen Truth Sugar Glow Polishing Mask, $42
Ten minutes with this scrubby exfoliating mask is all you need to get deeply cleansed, radiant skin. Pomegranate seed powder and sugar act as gentle exfoliators, and honey and rose hip brighten up the complexion and make it look, well, healthy.
Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Pore Scrub, $6.79
This scrub is a righteous fit for all skin types, but it’s especially great if you struggle with both breakouts and dry, sensitive skin—the jojoba beads are an incredibly gentle way to exfoliate and detoxify the pores, and willow bark is an excellent natural blemish-fighter.
Yves Saint Laurent Top Secrets National Action Exfoliator, $44
This strange, magical exfoliator has no scrubby beads, shells, or powders; rather, it uses a granule-free formula of sugar and rich oils that melts immediately upon contact with the skin to become a milky cleanser. Our skin has never been smoother.
Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant, $32
The ultra-fine clay works in conjunction with natural bamboo and olive exfoliants to create a formula that’s both non-irritating and supremely effective on oily, acne-prone skin that could really use some rejuvenation. Chamomile flower and lavender water make it super soothing, too.
Korres Pomegranate Deep Cleansing Scrub, $21
The particles you feel in this one are made solely from olive seeds, which provide a natural scrub-down that refines pores and leaves skin looking clear and bright. Olive, calendula, and pomegranate extracts all impart antioxidant benefits, so skin also improves over time with continuous usage.
Josie Maran Argan Exfoliating Cleansing Powder, $40
It’s up to you just how exfoliating this cleanser gets: It’s simply a powder, which you can mix with water or oil to make a creamy paste that uses finely crushed argan shells and rice powder to gently buff away dead skin. Better yet, it’s gentle enough to use daily to combat breakouts.
Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub, $28
Teeny tiny pieces of actual pineapple and papaya fruit are blended with finely ground grains for a gentle, natural exfoliating treatment. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, is ideal for gently breaking down dull surface skin cells, while papaya enzyme papain similarly dissolves dry, dead skin.
Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub, $6.17
This scrub goes deep with biodegradable crystalline beads to gently whisk debris, oil, and impurities out of clogged pores. A low dose of salicylic acid fights breakouts, but smoothing, hydrating ingredients like glycerin help to keep skin balanced.
MyChelle Fruit Enzyme Scrub, $18
The fruit enzymes in this formula combine with skin-polishing jojoba needs and bamboo powder for exfoliation that’s both chemical—the enzymes dissolve dead skin cells without scrubbing—and physical, so you get the best of both worlds … and soft, clear skin, too.