Why I’m Sending Back My Aveeno “Natural” Skin Cleanser

Aveeno Cleanser contains polluting microbeads

My friends, I’m embarrassed to tell you that I was greenwashed.

I’ve used this Aveeno face cleanser for years. With its green packaging, soy extract and “active naturals” tagline, I naively thought it was making a good, clean choice for my skin. What I didn’t know is that my skincare product has been polluting our oceans.

Shortly after purchasing a new tube of the cleanser, I was distressed to read that Aveeno Positively Radiant is one of the brands that contains plastic microbeads. As you may have heard, non-biodegradable plastic microbeads are too tiny to be caught by the standard filters used at sewage treatment plants and pass from our bathroom sinks to streams and oceans, where they pollute the water and also enter the food chain. You can read more about the devastating environmental effects of these tiny plastic particles at BeatThe Microbead.org.

I learned that many of the polluting microbeads used in personal care products are made of polyethylene, and sure enough, there it was—the fifth ingredient on the list on my cleanser:

Polyethylene microbeads in Aveeno Positively Radiant cleanser

Johnson & Johnson, which makes Aveeno products, has issued a statement promising to eliminate plastic microbeads in its products by the end of 2017.

You can check this list and see if your product contains plastic microbeads. I was surprised to see toothpaste, shaving cream and shower gels on the list in addition to cleansing scrubs.

You can find a list of microbead-free products here.

If you’re going to return your product, you can use this excellent example letter from Beat the Microbead.

I replaced my Aveeno scrub with Alba Botanica’s Even Advanced Enzyme Scrub, which uses powdered walnut shells for a truly “natural” exfoliate. (This isn’t a sponsored review—just my own experience.)

You can also make your own facial scrub, using ingredients like baking soda, honey or oatmeal.

How about you? Do you have any microbeads lurking in the products in your drawers and shelves?


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of 15 books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

10 thoughts on “Why I’m Sending Back My Aveeno “Natural” Skin Cleanser”

  1. It is hard to find good, green choices on the grocery store shelves, but there are lots of good products online.

    I use and sell Pangea Organics. They are wonderful products and they have a great scrub. They also won 50+ awards for best natural product, best eco-friendly packaging and most environmentally and socially conscious business practices.

    I also throw in some DIY into my routine… like you mentioned, baking soda makes a good scrub for face, body, scalp and as an occasional toothpaste. I also rub lemons on my face for a little peel/exfoliation. Coconut oil and olive oil make good moisturizers for face, hands, body, feet and as a hair conditioner. Plus, you can use them as a mouthwash, called oil pulling which is great for clean teeth and gums. Lastly, I use vinegar as a hair conditioner which detangles also.

    The best thing for glowing skin though is to eat clean and include lots of fruits and veggies into your diet.

  2. KUDOS to you for sending it back!

    I realize this will probably make me sound completely “out there” but all of my skin problems cleared up when I stopped using anything but water on my face. OK – I use a bit of unscented soap if I’m totally slathered in sunscreen, but otherwise pure H2O seems to do the trick for me.

  3. Eliza, good for you in sending it back. That makes quite the message to companies and if more people sent products back they would see their profits fall and do something to change the ingredients.

    To see the micro beads listed so high in the ingredients list is horrible. But there are a few other ingredients you may want to research further as they are pretty bad both for us and the environment and are on that ingredient label. Acrylate crosspolymer and the glycols especially the butylane

    You can check the ingredients in your products at the environmental working group’s website: http://ewg.org

    I’m with Cat, my skin cleared up when I started using water only on my face but needs a bit of hydration in the winter which is when I will moisturize with a bit of raw coconut oil.

  4. Oh, thank heavens my Noxema is not on the list. Nor is my Orevitol (anti-aging nighttime cream). I guess I’m in the clear, but I’ll check the jars to make sure. Thank you for spreading the word. This is such an important topic.

  5. Just spoke to JnJ & they are sending me a natural neutrogena similar product & a coles myer card refund & I don’t have to send the product back. Worth the call.


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