Personal care products like facial and body scrubs and polishing toothpastes can be found in most modern bathrooms, yet few of us realise how many of our favourite products contain tiny pieces of plastic.

Cheap plastic microbeads, some as small as ½ mm, in diameter, have been commonly used in cosmetics for nearly a decade, and are currently most often replace natural exfoliants, like pumice, jojoba beads, ground apricot kernel or nut shells, in ‘scrubs’. Some scrubs are up to 5% microplastic, which can amount to more than 300,000 beads in one tube.

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The ‘polishers’ in many toothpastes are also microbeads. Phoenix dental hygienist Trish Walvaren sparked a campaign by US dentists when she blogged about finding bright blue flecks trapped between many Crest users’ teeth and gums.

The other common cosmetic use is as body glitter, and even ethical pioneers Lush have owned up to this one. They also…

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