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11 exfoliating face cleansers that are microbead-free


Photo: Stocksy/Marija Anicic
Photo: Stocksy/Marija Anicic
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Nothing makes your face feel as fresh and clean as a good, rigorous scrub. But unfortunately, many squeaky-clean cleansers and exfoliants contain microbeads, which, as it turns out, aren’t good for your face or for the environment. So it was understandably major beauty news when President Barack Obama signed the Microbeads-Free Waters Act of 2015 at the end of December, which will ban microbeads in the personal care industry beginning in 2017.

So why is something so small such a big issue? Microbeads are made of miniature (think under a millimeter) spherical pieces of plastic, and are often too tiny to filter out of wastewater. So once flushed down the sink or shower drain, the super absorbent particles (which collect chemicals on their journey through our water system) cause serious problems—they’re consumed by fish, other animals, and even humans (there have been reports of microbeads getting lodged in people’s gums). The scariest part? Here in the U.S., we flush an average of 8 trillion microbeads a day. That is a lot of plastic.

While the actual ban won’t go into effect until July of 2017, many states have already begun banning stores from selling any products that contain the beads.  And you don’t have to wait, either: There are plenty of options out there for products with “safe grit” to give you that scrubbed-clean feeling in a completely natural way.

Here are 11 all-natural exfoliators to help you get fresh and clean, sans microbeads.

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pure-carrot-facial
Photo: 100% Pure

100% Pure Carrot Facial Scrub, $28

Sensitive skin types, this is the scrub for you. Carrot seed oil and avocado butter help hydrate and smooth skin, while green tea and aloe calms. A bonus: It’s gentle enough for everyday use.

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acure-face-scrub
Photo: Acure

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, $9.99

This face-polisher from Acure is inspired by the ocean—which is why organic sea kelp is one of its main ingredients. The underwater green (along with lemon peel) helps to exfoliate, while French green clay clarifies skin.

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Photo: One Love Organics
Photo: One Love Organics

One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderm Scrub and Mask, $39

This exfoliator is so gentle, you can use it every day (and not just on your face)—thanks to soothing sweet pea flour and fresh pineapple enzymes, which are the prime scrub-a-dub agents here.

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burts-bees-face-scrub
Photo: Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees Peach & Willow Bark Deep Pore Scrub, $8

This formula packs a one-two punch, with willow bark exfoliating while finely ground peach stone (yes, that’s fancy speak for “the pit”) polishes skin.

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frank-natural-creamy-face-scrub
Photo: Frank Body

Frank Cacao Creamy Face Scrub, $19.95

Ready to perk up? All of Frank’s products use freshly ground coffee as an exfoliant, which not only scrubs away dry skin but also contains high levels of caffeine—which in turn stimulates blood flow, a major boost if you’ve got certain skin ailments (think acne or eczema).

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herbivore-pink-clay-mask
Photo: Herbivore Botanicals

Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask, $22

The key ingredient in this mask is French pink clay, a skin rejuvenating powerhouse that enhances elasticity. In other words, just what you need if you’re looking for an exfoliating friend with some anti-aging benefits.

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josh-rosebrook-enzyme-exfoliator
Photo: Josh Rosebrook

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator, $60

In 2006 hairstylist Josh Rosebrook created a DIY face mask—and the rest is cult beauty history. The Active Enzyme Exfoliator is one of his hero products, with a “dual action” formula. In other words, you’ve got walnut shells (alongside fruit and plant enzymes) eliminating dead skin while also stimulating collagen production and tightening pores.

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sw-basics-exfoliant
Photo: S.W. Basics

S.W. Basics Exfoliant, $24

This exfoliant has just three simple ingredients (oat flour, almond flour, and sea salt) and comes dry—which means that you mix it with water yourself before applying it to your face and letting it sit for five minutes. Best of all? It’s got a reputation for clearing up breakouts.

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tata-harper-regenerating-cleanser
Photo: Tata Harper

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser, $78

You could call this The Multitasker: This four-in-one product not only clarifies skin, but also helps reduce the appearance of pores. That’s not all: You’ve got French pink clay stimulating circulation and detoxifying the skin, and ground apricot seeds gently exfoliating.

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kora-exfoliating-cream
Photo: Kora

Kora Organics Exfoliating Cream, $58

The secret ingredient in this cream from Miranda Kerr’s beauty line? Ultra-gentle oat flour and bamboo, which makes it another stellar option for those with sensitive skin (or anyone who gets her beauty cues from supermodels).

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Photo: May Lindstrom
Photo: May Lindstrom

May Lindstrom The Clean Dirt, $60

Clay, sea salt, and even raw cacao (fair trade, natch) are among the ingredients in this scrub that give you that super-clean feel. Step one: Activate the powder with water. Step two: Apply in circular motions to your face. Step three: Wash it all off, and go aaah.

In serious need of a winter-skin detox? These 12 super-clean masks will uncover healthy skin just in time for spring.