Skin cleansers with microbeads are bad for the environment.It’s the cleansing ingredient so toxic to the planet that Illinois has already banned it from store shelves. So if you care about the Earth — and your own health — it’s time to toss products with microbeads.

These tiny plastic beads exfoliate your skin, but they aren’t biodegradable — so the environment is becoming littered with these small pellets, which are extraordinarily difficult to clean up. They’re so minuscule that they slip right through the filters at water treatment plants, and end up poisoning animals in lakes, rivers and streams —  and even infiltrating our own water supply. Yuck.

Illinois, right on Lake Michigan, is understandably wary of having their greatest natural resource invaded by millions of plastic balls. So they’ve taken steps to ban microbeads for good, although the new legislation is fairly lax. Manufacturers have until the end of 2019 to stop selling the offending cleansers, which means the Land of Lincoln can look forward to five more years of pollution.

Still, it’s something.

Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow,” Governor Quinn said. “Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them.”

New York is also considering passing anti-microbead legislation; let’s hope their law kicks in earlier.

How to Quit Your Cleanser

As someone who studies beauty products more than I’d like to admit, I do understand the value of exfoliation — it really does make your skin glow. But there’s absolutely no reason to use microbeads when better alternatives exist, like walnut shells or sugar. And frankly, I’d rather use these natural exfoliators than grind plastic into my face.

So check your cleansers, and look for the word “microbeads” in the ingredients list. If you’re using an exfoliating scrub or moisturizer from Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Olay, Up & Up (the Target brand) or Rite Aid, odds are that you’ll spot it. Even some Crest toothpastes have microbeads. Yummy.

My advice? Throw out any microbead products you have at home, and avoid them like the plague at the store.