Late November of last year, the internet was amidst a kerfuffle. Climatologists and environmental scientists had come out of their labs to
ruin deliver a truth we all knew, but weren’t ready to hear: glitter is, like, really bad for the environment. Some scientists even support banning glitter, altogether.
Ouch. Nothing feels worse than forcing yourself to realize that the glitter you wash off at the end of Girls’ Night Out doesn’t magically dissolve into the sewer system. In fact, most glitter gets washed out into our beloved oceans where filter feeders and fish eventually ingest it. They’re not supposed to do that.
But glitter has been around forever! And glitter stays around forever, too, am I right? As Demetri Martin eloquently put it, glitter is the herpes of craft supplies. Those crafting herpes mean bad stuff for sea life. I mean, think about it: what even is glitter?
The answer is billions of tiny, metallic plastic particles, typically made from Mylar (like the balloons), and at less than 1mm across, glitter qualifies as a microplastic.
You couldn’t strain pieces of glitter out of a bucket of water if you tried, right? So getting it out of the ocean and large water bodies would be really, really, really hard – maybe impossible. Glitter doesn’t biodegrade or change at all once its in water. It just floats around until something gobbles it up along with its plankton.
Environmental science and technology are just starting to catch up with the cosmetic industry, so we’ll probably learn that we were lied to quite a few times in this lifetime. Sure, your glitters are eye-safe – but are they crustacean-safe? Probably not.
Even pigments like mica have concerns surrounding them. Big ones, like whether or not mica bioaccumulates (aka collects and builds up in the body over time) in wildlife – or humans.
Your old glitter is literally eternal garbage. It’s time to find a solution, and that solution can’t be “stop wearing glitter,” obviously…
If we want glitter, it’s going to have to be Earth-friendly. We need something that won’t melt on our faces, but also won’t get digested by fish and other marine life. The answer is biodegradable glitter.
Luckily, biodegradable glitter is already a thing. Most of the time, it’s made from a substance called fluorphlogopite, aka synthetic mica. It doesn’t bioaccumulate, it’s not harmful to the environment, and it breaks down after you wash it off.
Another popular material for biodegradable glitter is actually a derivative of eucalyptus! Cellulose, which is the most abundant organic polymer on the planet (oooh, ahhh) is in pretty much everything – especially plants. This hearty, plastic-like material can be used to make tiny, biodegradable glitter specks of pretty much any size, but like fluorphlogopite, it dissolves once it’s in waste- or sea-water.
Some big brands like Lush have already made the switch, and for the rest, indie beauty brands have all of your sparkle needs covered. Many times, you’ll notice that there are several sizes of product available. Nearly every brand offers a small glass jar or pot for the glitter, but if you’re willing to BYOC (Bring Your Own Container), you can usually get a biodegradable bag full of biodegradable glitter for an amazing discount!
9 Beauty Brands that Use Biodegradable Glitter
$3 for 5g (60¢/g) | 17 colors
EnviroGlitter is a biodegradable glitter line from Nurture Soap. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of times the word “soap” appears in EnviroGlitter’s product descriptions, though. This site is all about making soap, but because soap and bath bombs are an all-over-your-body thing, EnviroGlitter must also be lip-safe, eye-safe, and generally skin-safe.
While there aren’t many multi-colored glitters, you could easily make your own blends. This is the least expensive biodegradable glitter we found on the internet, so mixing isn’t only an option, it’s encouraged! If you want to jump the gun and buy all 17 colors, they have a 5% discounted multi-pack for $48.45!
EnviroGlitter is made from fluorphlogopite, but they also offer Bio-Glitter which is made from eucalyptus cellulose.
$7 for 9g (78¢/g) | 6 colors
This little Etsy shop only has two listing, but they’re the only two listings you really need: the single-color glitters, and a sampler.
Despite having only a few colors, they sell a whopping 9g of product at a time. The biodegradable glitter comes in a biodegradable bag, so find a gorgeous container to store your purchase in. There are also a couple different sizes of one of the most versatile glitter colors, silver.
Wild Glitter Website (UK)
£2.75/$3.72 for 3g ($1.24/g) | 5 colors
This brand was the most affordable UK-based brand we came across in our research. For only a few dollars, you can get 3g of your favorite of their limited shade range. Each shade comes in a 3ml or 10ml container.
As usual, I’m a sucker for a sampler, and Wild Glitter has a rainbow of glitters available for £25/$33.85! If you’re based in the US, don’t be sad. They’ll totally deliver to you, and if you have an order topping $50, they’ll ship it to you for free!
This UK-based glitter brand isn’t messing around. Not only do they boast an overwhelming 55 glitter shades, but they also do custom blending and offer a discount program for makeup artists and face painters.
Their glitter blends are stunning and rival those of popular beauty brands. The range of sizes allows you to really nail the look you’re going for. US-based glitter monsters can team up and put in an order for £50 ($67.69) or more and get free shipping!
EcoStardust glitter is Bio-Glitter, which is made from eucalyptus cellulose.
Another strong UK offering from Eco Glitter Fun! This line includes 38 shades of biodegradable glitter. Unlike its other counterparts, Eco Glitter Fun also offers additional glitter needs such as glitter containers, adhesives, and more sampler packs than you can shake a stick at.
Flip through their extensive Instagram gallery to see what others have done with the Eco Glitter Fun products, or request your own custom blend. They have the most variety in sizes that I’ve seen amongst biodegradable glitter brands. Plus, just look at that packaging – it’s adorable (and so very Earth-friendly)!
This is one of the brands that offers you a major discount if you buy in bulk, without a need for a jar. The price quoted above includes the jar, but you can get 10g for under $10. And while the single-color glitters in their inventory are beautiful, Eco Sparkles has some of the most beautiful glitter blends I’ve ever seen!
Image: Eco Sparkles Mermaid Blend
There are a total of three different sized containers you can buy, each priced completely fairly. There are also many different sizes of the glitter, itself, ranging from super-chunky (and super-chunky blends) to ultra-fine sparkle. You can also find glitter glue and brushes at Eco Sparkles!
The people who run Eco Sparkles are traveling until January 24th, 2018 and are offering a 20% discount on their website if you’re willing to wait until the 24th for your order to be shipped.
Eco Sparkles uses Bio-Glitter, which is made from eucalyptus cellulose.
Universal Soul biodegradable glitter is based on Los Angeles, and their branding is as cute as you would expect. Blends, single colors, and gift sets are all available with 18 shades to choose from.
Their glitter blends are also gorgeous, and definitely worth checking out. Everything is the same price, regardless of how customized they are, and the standard range of glitter shapes and sizes are available. Want to try more than one? Grab a biodegradable glitter gift set for $25.99!
This little brand only has four colors, and they’re all blends. You might think that would hinder their ability to compete, but these blends are so well-put-together that they continue to sell.
One of the coolest things about Glitter Evolution is their incredible charitable endeavors. They donate 40% of their profits to charitable organizations, half to Planned Parenthood, and half to the 5 Gyres Institute which studies and combats plastic pollution around the world.
Glitter Evolution blends are Bio-Glitter, which is made from eucalyptus cellulose.
$20+ | 7 colors
I wasn’t able to figure out how much product comes in your $20+ purchase (waiting to hear back from them about that!), but BioGlitz is clearly dedicated to sustainability.
Not only is their glitter biodegradable, but they source it from trees from suppliers who are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. BioGlitz makes sure that their footprint is only as large as it absolutely needs to be.
Did this inspire you to switch to biodegradable glitter?
Which brands have the best loot?
Tell us in the comments!