The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 2, 2015

Homemade Tooth Powder and Facial Scrub Recipes, Sans Plastic Microbeads

Neutrogena Deep Clean gentle scrub still contains microbeads as of 08/02/2105. Photo from website.

Are you still rubbing plastic all over your face?

Since I first reported on microbeads–those tiny bits of plastic added to facial scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal care products–in 2007 and then again in 2013, the NY Times has reported on them, several U.S. states have passed legislation to ban them,  Canada is on the verge of banning them, and the Story of Stuff Project has created a video and campaign to get other states and countries to follow suit.  (Please follow that link, if you haven’t already, to take action and ask your representatives to ban microbeads where you live.)

But the trouble with some of  the proposed legislation is that it allows companies to switch to “biodegradable” plastic microbeads.  That’s a problem because most “biodegradable” plastics will not actually biodegrade in the cold waters of the ocean, making them just as much of a problem as the original microbeads.

What’s more, think of all the energy and toxic chemicals that go into creating any kind of plastic product, whether fossil fuel-based or plant-based.  I don’t want that crap on my face or in my mouth any more than I want it in the ocean.  And I also don’t want to buy products in plastic tubes and containers!

Plastic-Free July Event at the Ecology Center

As part of Plastic-Free July, Jeannie Pham from the Ecology Center in Berkeley taught a workshop on how to make our own facial scrubs and toothpastes without microbeads.

Ecology-Center-ban-microbeads-facial-scrub-recipe-03Each of us got to bring home a glass jar of facial scrub.  I asked if I could publish the recipe for you here.

Skin Cleansing Grains

Note:  You don’t have to use all of these ingredients if simplicity is what you’re after.  Many of these can be used alone.  Or substitute ingredients like coffee, sugar, salt, etc.  See my 2013 post for a more complete list.

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • ½ cup ground or powdered azuki bean*
  • 6 tbsp bentonite clay
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp ground, dried rose petals  (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ground, dried calendula (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ground, dried lavender (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground poppy seeds

Instructions for use: Grind poppy seeds, flowers, and azuki beans separately (if you bought whole azuki beans). Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass container.



To use the cleansing grains, take about a teaspoon into the palm of your hand or a small dish and slowly add water until it creates a paste consistency, or whatever consistency you would like. Gently scrub into the face, taking care to be gentle on the skin beneath your eyes. You can rinse off immediately, or leave it on until it dries.

If you would like to use the mix as a weekly mask instead, simply add 1 cup more bentonite clay.  I have written about making my own clay mask here.

Tooth Powder

We didn’t actually make the tooth powder, but we discussed this recipe and the reasons for the various ingredients.  I personally use baking soda and essential oils, but many people agreed that baking soda is too abrasive and that these ingredients are gentler.

  • 4 tbsp bentonite clay
  • 1 tbsp activated charcoal
  • 6 drops peppermint (essential) oil
  • 1.5 tsp stevia, powdered and unprocessed
  • 1 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Mix all ingredients and store in a non-metal container (see reasons above). To use, dip your dry toothbrush into the mix and start brushing your teeth. Add a drop of water from faucet to moisten the mix more so that it can be easier to distribute as you brush.

Here are many more ideas for tooth powders, pastes, soaps, and other tooth cleansing formulas.

Update: If you can’t find bentonite clay or activated charcoal in bulk, Cory at Aquarian Bath will sell them to you in compostable cello bags (made from cellulose.) Contact her through her website for details.  She also sells a tooth powder that is very similar to this recipe. I reviewed it here.

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8 years ago

My favourite scrub hands down is half liquid honey, half granulated sugar.

8 years ago

Sounds lovely! I use coconut oil and baking soda mixed with essential oils. I really love it!

8 years ago

Way too much trouble! I use plain baking soda for face scrub

8 years ago

“Way back” I just used cornmeal as a scrub. Works great, just keep dispenser dry in between uses.

Carrie Ann Calay
8 years ago

Appreciate this article very much! Herbs and spices can be found at the health/natural food store, but where to find BENTONITE and activated Charcoal????
Also, for those who might be using a Homeopathic remedy, just omit any mint herb or essential oil to avoid antidoting your remedy.

8 years ago

Locally [Bay Area] Berkeley Bowl, Rainbow, some Whole Foods have bulk Bentonite. but so far haven’t seen activated charcoal.
If you have a local shop with decent bulk, perhaps look for Bentonite with cosmetics

8 years ago
Reply to  Beth Terry

Green11 in SF and [someday] soon in Berkeley carries Uncle Harry’s toothpaste and deodorants in bulk! BYOB.
Might be able to convince them to carry the activated charcoal as well.