The U.S. Is About to Ban This Ingredient In Beauty Products

The election season may bring out heated disagreements across the political spectrum, but both Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing: Microbeads in your cosmetics and personal hygiene products have to go.

This week, the House of Representative's Energy & Commerce Committee unanimously voted to approve the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, moving it to the wider House for voting. The act will ban the manufacturing of "cosmetics that contain synthetic plastic microbeads" beginning in July 2017, and the sale of such products in 2018.

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Plastic microbeads, used as an exfoliating agent, can often be found in body washes, soaps and toothpastes. But, while it may provide a temporary benefit to your skin, it's causing long-term harm to the environment. Due to their small size, microbeads often slip through water filtration systems and end up in rivers and oceans, where they're mistaken by fish as food. And, the pollution isn't just hurting wildlife; it could also be dangerous to humans. In fact, instances have already been reported where fish caught for human consumption have been found to contain microbeads in their flesh. Environmentalists estimate that microbeads used in cosmetics contribute to more than 38 tons of plastic pollution each year.

Regardless of whether or not the nationwide ban goes into effect, major cosmetics companies are already underway with removing microbeads from all of their products, with Unilever leading the pack, having already completed their global phase-out.