A woman named Emma Kinsley recently caught the attention of nearly 2 million people on TikTok after her esthetician discovered beads from her face wash stuck inside her pores.
In the video, Emma explains, "Guys, this is wild. So, I just went and got my facial — I'm feeling sleek. And, she asked me, mid-facial, 'What kind of face wash are you using?' And I was like, 'Well, I ran out of my normal stuff, so I've been using Neutrogena — the grapefruit stuff.' And she was like, 'Are there orange or red beads in it?' And I was like, 'Yeah, there is...'"
"BEADS. Neutrogena beads have been stuck in my face. She pulled out multiple Neutrogena beads. If you are using Neutrogena Grapefruit scrub — stop, STOP."
"This was a bead, this was a bead...there were beads in my skin, and I'm so freaked out — and so thankful for my esthetician."
At the end of the video, Emma shows the exact product she was using right before she plops it in the trash.
BuzzFeed spoke to Emma, who said she had been using the Neutrogena Grapefruit Scrub for a couple of months before the discovery happened — which was right before her wedding. "I ran out of my usual face wash and knew I had the Neutrogena one in my guest bathroom. This wasn’t an abnormal thing for me — whenever I run out and re-order late, I typically use that as a backup."
Emma said the strangest part of it all was that she had no signs that the beads were clogging her pores. "I actually thought the face wash was working nicely. My skin was looking just fine, and I didn’t have any irritation. I have sensitive skin, too, but I had no idea the product was damaging me," she said.
Emma has been regularly getting facials/waxing for about three years, so she has a fun relationship with her esthetician, Tayler at Esthetique. "While she was doing extractions, which admittedly are my favorite part of the process, she broke the silence with, 'What kind of face wash have you been using lately?' I responded, letting her know I ran out of my typical wash. She then asked if there were pink and orange beads in it... I hesitated because I wasn't sure where she was going with it and said yes. That’s when she laid it on me that she was pulling them out of my face."
"As she spent extra time doing extractions, she explained to me what was happening: When you wet your face with warm water, you’re opening your pores. You then use a wash to get in there and get the dirt out. In this situation, the bead was going into the pore to clean, but getting stuck in there and most likely never even clearing out the dirt. Then you finish your routine and close up your pores. As you continue throughout your day, like going to the gym or taking a walk, your pores open back up — cue more dirt. It becomes a vicious cycle so the beads can get pretty deep in there, without you even realizing it," said Emma, explaining what Tayler told her.
On the label of the Neutrogena product, it says it does not contain plastic beads, but Emma believes that whatever the beads are made of, they aren't natural. "If they aren’t dissolving in my face, they aren’t dissolving period. This is not only horrible for our bodies, but for our environment. So, it wasn't fun learning this the week of my wedding, but I am so thankful for this facial so Tayler could show me firsthand what damage can happen from these kinds of products."
Emma said that the face wash she usually uses is Fré Skincare because they have natural ingredients. "The exfoliant in their wash is made with jojoba, which acts as a natural and dissolving exfoliant. Tayler also turned me onto Naturopathica and Cosmedix, which have done wonders for my skin. When I left my facial that day, she sent me home with some new Cosmedix samples to help with the inflammation from her extractions of the beads and to help open my pores and help clear them out."
To get more information, BuzzFeed also spoke to dermatologist Mamina Turegano, MD, FAAD. "I’m not necessarily a fan of exfoliating washes with beads for the face because some beads can be potentially traumatizing and cause micro-tears in the skin," she said.
Turegano said that many exfoliating beads in face washes are made from microplastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyurethane. Salicylic acid is the main active ingredient in the Neutrogena face wash that Emma was using and — in the list of inactive ingredients — we did not see any microplastics listed.
And while Turegano said it's not super common for the beads to get stuck in your pores, it can happen, and that is why she recommends a gentle cleanser that is pH balanced.
Lastly, Emma said the purpose of her video is to help people be aware of what they're putting on their skin. "Just because it's on a shelf at your local store, doesn't mean it belongs on your shelf at home," she said.
BuzzFeed has reached out to Neutrogena to see what specific ingredients make up the exfoliating beads in their Grapefruit Scrub. We will update you if we hear back.