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What Are the Beads In Hand Sanitizer?

What Are the Beads In Hand Sanitizer?

An Introduction

What are those little blue "things" in sanitizer? Here's the scoop. After the microbeads scandal, people got very scared of anything floating in a gel.

What are microbeads?

These tiny plastic particles, usually smaller than two millimeters in diameter, are made of polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethlyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon. 

What are microbeads used for?

Microbeads have a softening and exfoliating quality. The abrasion on the surface creates friction to remove dirt, grease, sweat, and oil. You can find microbeads in cosmetics such as toothpaste, face wash, soap, shower gel and more. 

"According to an estimate from the United Nations Environment Program, a typical exfoliating shower gel or sanitizer might contain as much plastic in microbeads form (over 330,000 microbeads) as there is in its plastic container."[1]

Microbeads in the ocean, water, and food

Microbead water pollution has been poisoning oceans and threatening health since their invention in the 1960s. The plastic being harmful enough, microbeads also attract and store polluting chemicals. Study after study has highlighted the dangers of microbeads.

In California, a study found the 1/4th of all fish sold in the local markets had microplastics in their stomachs. In the United States alone, we are projected to release eight billion plastic microbeads into the environment EVERY DAY. [2]

Microbead Ban

After extensive research, protests, and lobbying, The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 prohibited the manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of rinse-off cosmetics containing plastic microbeads in the USA. 

The deadline was July 1, 2019 to stop the introduction or delivery for introduction of microbead rinse-off non-prescription drugs into interstate commerce. However, this does not apply to sanitizer. [3]

What are the beads in most hand sanitizers?

We wanted to give you some background on microbeads, but most manufacturers have entirely removed this from the formula. In sanitizers now, the little floating beads are usually "moisturizing beads". Basically, they are little pockets of glycerin, a thickening agent, packed together by paint - an overall cheap solution to the sanitizer dryness issue. These could be made packed with organic oils, but are otherwise marginal improvement.

What can I do?

Go #beadfree and leave these little beads in the past. Shultz's hand sanitizer gives all the soft and smoothness, without the cheap copout.



[1] Drahl, Carmen. “What You Need To Know About Microbeads, The Banned Bath Product Ingredients.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 Jan. 2016,

[2] “Plastic Microbeads.” 5Gyres.Org,

[3] Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The Microbead-Free Waters Act.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA,

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