Micro bead pillows

NOTE:  Following environmental concerns, and new government legislation, we now don’t recommend you buy any products containing plastic microbeads.

On course to be banned by the end of 2017 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, microbeads are often used as the filling for travel pillows, the ‘U’ shaped pillows which you would wear around your neck whilst on a plane or train.  Micro bead 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 molded to the users’ requirements. Popular microbead pillow brands include Cushtie.

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.

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:

Wikipedia – Microbeads
BBC News: Plastic microbeads to be banned by 2017, UK government pledges

Greenpeace: What are microbeads and why should we ban them?


See alternative pillow reviews