Illinois First State to Ban Microbeads

Go Illinois! If you’ve been following my blog for the past few months, you are probably familiar with the Microbead-Free Waters Act and the impact it has on both our environmentent and our beauty products. Here’s a recap to refresh your memory:

  • Exfoliating beads made of plastic (polyethylene/polypropylene) are missed by our water filtration system when they are rinsed down the drain. They are NOT biodegradable.
  • These beads soak up and trap toxins, and fish mistake them as food and eat them. So not only are they trapping toxins in our water, but they are contaminating and killing the fish that would normally be harvested for food.
  • The Microbead-Free Waters Act was proposed to ban plastic particles in personal care products for the benefit of our environment.

Illinois First State to Ban Microbeads

While I was only aware of the act being proposed in New York and California, Illinois has become the first official state to ban microbeads as of Sunday, June 9, 2014 with the passing of the Environmental Protection Act. It makes sense that they were quick on the draw, being one of the states that borders Lake Michigan, one of the bodies of water millions of plastic microbeads were found in during the research conducted by 5 Gyres.

The new law will enforce the ban on the manufacturing of products containing microbeads by the end of 2017, and the sale of them by 2019.

I’ve been asked by some readers if they will still be able to purchase products containing microbeads from online retailers in a state where the legislation has not been passed. The act states:

“No person shall accept for sale a personal care product […] that contains synthetic plastic microbeads…”

…to which I interpret as: no, you will not be able to purchase them if you are located in the state where the law is passed. Plus, why would you want to? There are tons of natural alternatives for a squeaky clean exfoliation that don’t harm our environment! Here are a few accessible options:

With the adoption of this act, more brands are being prompted to cease the incorporation of plastic in their products. Big names like Johnson & Johnson have already vowed to phase microbeads out of all products by 2015- no matter what the state.

Are you affected by the new law? What are your thoughts? Just last month, I received a collection of awesome lip scrubs in the mail without knowing the ingredients. I couldn’t find them listed anywhere. After contacting the brand, I found out they, too, contained microbeads! What if I swallowed them? Yuck!

Read my previous posts on the bill:

What the Ban on Microbeads Means for Your Favorite Scrubs
Caviar Manicures and the Microbead-Free Waters Act
Microbead-Free Waters Act Passes the Assembly



  1. what a great idea – im not gonna be missing microbeads because my skin is super sensitive anyway. wish they did this in my state.

  2. Who knew my state was SO environmentally progressive. Now if they would just tackle the BUDGET… =)

  3. this is awesome! I never was fond of the microbeads in products, mainly because my skin is oober sensitive but also because a friend of mine told me that fish eat them more often then not. :/ I was so bummed… and have since discontinued using all – if there are any left in my stash.

    1. That’s what I thought, until I remembered that they border the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan) 🙂

  4. I did not know what microbeads were until I read this post. I am pretty certain I don’t have any products with them included. My only exfoliator is the apricot one with the ground up pits for dermabrasion. Unless they are in my textured polishes (not caviar) then I am microbead free in this house.

    1. I’m glad I could bring it to your attention, and I’m doubly glad that you already used products with natural exfoliants. I have the apricot scrub, too– it’s SO effective!

  5. This is great news! I hope Michigan follows soon! I think it will be interesting to see what kinds of ingredients will replace microbeads.

  6. I hope this also covers caviar from nail polish? Because once removed, those go on to harm the environment as well. Why not use other kinds of nail art, and walnut or apricot scrubs instead? Or the soapy-beads that change colour and dissolve on the skin?

  7. Luckily I´m not a fan of products containing plastic microbeads. And I really don´t get why, for example use them in body scrubs, when there are much better alternatives.

  8. What if you swallowed them? Um, don’t eat your cosmetics. LOL! I’m sure they would pass right through you without a problem because your digestive tract is larger than that of a fish… silly, silly girl! I’m glad that these beads are being phased out. I forget to look to see if a product has them and I’m unpleasantly surprised when I order a product and it has them! I don’t even want to think that a product might have them – be gone, microbeads!

    1. Hey, swallowing a tiny bit of lip scrub is not so uncommon! 😛 But I think the main focus is that they hold in toxins, which could harm you if you swallowed them (hence it being a problem if they’re in our fishies!).

  9. I saw that the other day (I’m in Illinois). Glad to see that our government is at least doing a few useful things (generally nothing gets done here, lol)!

  10. My recent concern was how to dispose of products with microbeads. I guess they’ll just end up in a landfill because there’s no good way to get rid of the product inside. Dilemma! But a great new law!

    1. This is something I haven’t thought about, Allison! I think I’ll reach out to my contact at Beat the Microbead and see what he has to say about that.

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