Of all the things that twinkle and shine, glitter is arguably the most accessible — while the average person isn’t reaching for diamonds to hit the town, most people have definitely applied their fair share of glitter for a night out, with New Year’s Eve always being the most glitter-filled night of the year. Whether it’s being shot out of a champagne bottle, or brushed on your face via some mode of cosmetics, it’s almost certain that some sparkle will make an appearance as the clock strikes 12:00. However, biodegradable glitter unfortunately isn’t widely used in the cosmetics industry (to date only one company can claim to make their products with it).
And considering that glitter makeup saw a huge surge last year thanks to the edgy looks from HBO’s Euphoria, the beauty industry still hasn’t seemed to make this a huge priority when developing new products.
Sure, it’s pretty to look at, but sadly most glitter is made from toxic and unsustainable materials like microplastics that contribute to pollution (for reference, the European cosmetics industry uses 5,500 tonnes of microplastics every year). But if you’re a fan of sparkles, there is some good news — according to a news report last month, researchers from the University Of Cambridge have recently “developed a sustainable, plastic-free glitter for use in the cosmetics industry, and it's made from the cellulose found in plants, fruits, vegetables, and wood pulp.”
The process of making this plant-based glitter also requires far less energy than the traditional production method, and avoids using either mica (which often has unethical mining practices) or titanium dioxide (which is newly banned in the EU for being a possible carcinogen). "We believe this product could revolutionize the cosmetics industry by providing a fully sustainable, biodegradable and vegan pigment and glitter," Professor Silvia Vignolini, one of the accredited researchers write in Nature Materials, where the findings were first published.
While this recent development is very exciting and a huge step in making the beauty industry more environmentally conscious, it will be a while before you’re able to purchase makeup made from this new cellulose-based glitter. “Although further optimization of the process is still needed, the researchers are hoping to form a spin-out company to make their pigments and glitters commercially available in the coming years,” Science Daily reports.
Until then, be conscious of your use of glitter as much a possible, reusing it when you can, as long as it’s safe to use — and maybe just stick to popping champagne this year.