NOTE: Following environmental concerns, and new government legislation, Pillow Advisor now don’t recommend you buy any products containing plastic microbeads. Try buckwheat pillows instead – read more here: About Buckwheat Pillows, or microfibre / memory foam travel and neck pillows here.
Just banned (start of 2019) in UK cosmetics and personal care products, microbeads are particularly hazardous when added to facewashes, body scrubs etc. This is because they are washed into our water system and end up damaging our oceans, causing ‘plastic particle water pollution‘.
Traditionally used in beanbags, little polystyrene foam balls are often used as the filling to make microbead travel pillows and microbead neck pillows (the ‘U’ shaped pillows which you wear around your neck whilst on a plane or train). Microbead pillows are filled with thousands of tiny polystyrene beads. The outer casing is usually made of a soft man-made and elastic material such as lycra or spandex.
The characteristics of a microbead pillow are that they are exceptionally soft and pliable and have a very different feel to most other pillow types. Microbead sleeping pillows are often cylinder shaped and are designed to be shaped and moulded to the users’ requirements. Popular UK microbead pillows include brands such as Cushtie and Softeeze.
The microbeads used in pillows and cushions are bigger than those used in cosmetics but still present potential environmental hazards when they’re disposed of. They can also potentially be a choking hazard for very small babies and animals if a cushion spills its contents of thousands of tiny beads.
Buckwheat pillows can also provide a similar (but natural and eco-friendly) alternative feel to microbeads – see our information page ‘About Buckwheat pillows‘
If you’re looking for a travel cushion or travel pillow – try the microfibre or memory foam ones we’ve reviewed here.
The following webpages contain further advice and information: