I have never heard of such a thing, but I suppose it only makes sense to the companies selling the products. Face scrubs, lip balm, toothpaste, what do these all have in common? Well they can all make us feel better and healthier, but many products are often made with little bits of plastic. Shocking, I know. Some of the products that offer scrubbing beads or exfoliants are really just mixing microbeads of plastic in them. Why do this? Well for one thing these pieces of plastic, mainly Polyethylene, are cheaper than the more natural exfoliants like apricot seeds and coconut husks. One tube of face wash can have as much as 350,000 microbeads. So what’s the big deal? For one thing, a majority of these beads are so small they aren’t caught in the water treatment plants and thus are flushed out into lakes, rivers, and seas. Studies show that New York alone dumps 19 tons of microbeads into waterways each year. As for health risks, dentists have found tiny bits of plastic in their patient’s gums which can trap bacteria and lead to gingivitis, the very thing these toothpastes are trying to prevent. Have you ever noticed tiny blue balls (scrubbers) in your toothpaste? Well that's what those are, and they don't go away. Crest is a brand that often uses microbeads in their Pro-Health and 3D Whitening products. So if you use these now, STOP IMMEDIATELY! That is, until Crest becomes proactive about their consumers’ health. It isn’t all smoke and mirrors with these companies though. In fact, just reading the ingredients will disclose whether or not there is plastic within (most cases it will be Polyethylene, but there can also be hydrated silica).
The image below, borrowed from motherjones.com, is just a few of the products on the market today that still carry these little buggers.
Crest has announced as of the end of 2014 that they would be removing these microbeads from their products although they state that they are perfectly safe and "FDA approved". By 2016 all of their products should no longer come with plastic that can get stuck in your gums.