Microbeads are tiny plastic spheres that have been added to a range of cosmetics, skincare products, toothpaste and sunscreen over recent years. Many exfoliant products, in particular, contain large amounts of microbeads that are washed down household drains every day. Scientists have discovered that the ocean floor has been contaminated by these plastic beads, which are too small to be blocked by filtration systems. As a result, the beads are being ingested by marine species and there are concerns about toxicity in the food chain. Even freshwater lakes have been found to be contaminated by microbeads. The microbeads are not biodegradable so the potential consequences for the environment are horrendous.
This is really bad news as microbeads were a breakthrough for gentle and effective skin exfoliation. Previously, exfoliants contained natural ingredients, such as ground almond shells and fruit kernels – the equivalent of using sandpaper on your skin in our view. We can expect microbeads to be phased out quickly as there is immense public pressure on companies that use these ingredients. Hopefully, the cosmetic companies will soon find an alternative ingredient that will comply with their environmental responsibilities.
So, what can we do in the meantime? Check labels on any new cosmetic, skincare, toothpaste and sunscreen products you buy to ensure that the ingredients do not include microbeads. Do the same with your existing products and find out how to dispose of products containing microbeads responsibly. Definitely do not flush the products down the drain. If you intend to finish using the products, do not use them in a shower or rinse in a washbasin. Removing the product from your skin with a damp disposable cloth may be the safest option. Remember to wrap the cloth and dispose of it via the landfill garbage collection.
Research new exfoliants emerging on the market to find environmentally responsible alternatives. Visit Fauna and Flora International (FFI) to find out more about this issue and download your copy of the Good Scrub Guide.
If you prefer to be an activist, spread the word on social media and join or support organisations lobbying for change on this issue.
Eyebrow pencil should be applied after you have finished applying your eye make-up. This will avoid the possibility of smudging your work when you are applying eyeshadow and mascara.
Comb your eyebrows neatly into shape using the comb side of your eyebrow tool. Comb up at the start of the eyebrow then across, following the curve. Try to follow the direction in which your eyebrow hair naturally grows. This usually involves combing up then across as you work around the curve.
Starting at the beginning of your eyebrow, apply small strokes of pencil just under the top row of hairs. Find where the topmost hairs join the skin and apply the pencil to the hair at that point. Each stroke of the pencil should be firm but not too heavy. Your aim is to feather the pencil on in small strokes. Do not be concerned if the pencil marks the skin as well as the hair – this is to be expected. Do not attempt to cover every hair. Start with a minimal number of strokes spaced apart as the effect can be built up as desired. On this first application, stop feathering the pencil on at the highest point of the eyebrow curve, leaving one third of the eyebrow (closest to the ear) free of colour. Using the brush side of your eyebrow tool, brush the pencil marks to blend the colour into the eyebrow. Take care not to disturb the eyebrow shape you so neatly combed earlier. Work within the definition of the eyebrow as you do not want to end up with smudges above or below the area. As you blend you will notice that you are working the colour along the eyebrow – this is why you should leave the final one third free of colour initially. Sit back and check your work in the mirror. If you need more colour apply the pencil in feathered strokes where required and then repeat the blending with the brush. If you have applied the pencil too heavily, simply turn the brush on the eyebrow tool to the other side. Brush through as before with the clean side of the brush to remove excess colour. Remove any smudges with a cotton tip or orange tip (See Preparation and tools post). Blot off any excess oil with a clean tissue. Remember to check your make-up in different lighting and make any adjustments to the colour or your technique.