Plastic Free Glitter: Which Cosmetic Glitter Brands are Biodegradable and Compostable?

In today’s beauty and crafting industries, the sparkle of glitter has become synonymous with celebration, creativity, and self-expression. However, traditional glitter, which is considered microplastic, has raised concerns about its environmental impact on our ecosystems. This is where the emergence of biodegradable glitter comes into play, offering a solution that allows individuals to indulge in shimmering aesthetics while minimizing harm to the planet, though our recommendation is to avoid it if you can and use it only for special celebrations. In this article, we delve into the world of biodegradable glitter, exploring its benefits, applications, and the best eco-friendly glitter brands to consider.

 

How is Glitter Made?

This video gives a glimpse into how synthetic glitter is made, and why it usually has one or more plastic coatings. It typically consists of three layers: a plastic core usually made of a type of stretched polyester PET film known as BoPET (biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), which is used for its high tensile strength, transparency, and reflectivity, and it is often coated with aluminium to create a reflective appearance and topped with another thin plastic layer, e.g. styrene acrylate.

Threfore, this product is made of flat multi-layered sheets that are produced by combining plastic, coloring, and reflective materials such as aluminum, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, and bismuth oxychloride. These sheets are then cut into tiny particles of many tiny shapes including squares, triangles, rectangles, and hexagons.

 

 

Related: 7 Best Plastic Free Face Wash Brands to Supercharge Your Skincare 

 

The Environmental Issues with Traditional Glitter Made of Plastic

Today’s glitter is usually manufactured from a combination of aluminum and plastic. Because its size is smaller than 5mm it is considered already microplastic, which ultimately finds its way into aquatic habitats, eventually becoming ingested by wildlife, and ultimately also by ourselves. In a bid to reduce plastic pollution, many scientists have called for bans on plastic glitter, and finally, on 17 October 2023, the European Union officially banned the sale of loose plastic glitter and some other products that contain microbeads. The directive “Commission Regulation (EU) 2023/2055 – Restriction of microplastics intentionally added to products”, restricts synthetic polymer microparticles on their own or intentionally added to mixtures, however biodegradable, soluble, natural or inorganic glitter is not considered microplastics, so it is out of the scope of the restriction and can continue being sold. We hope that all countries around the world will follow the EU ban.

 

What is Biodegradable Glitter and What Makes it Eco-friendly?

Biodegradable glitter is crafted using materials that break down naturally over time, unlike traditional glitter, which contains microplastics that persist in the environment for years. This eco-friendly alternative typically utilizes plant-based regenerated cellulose or modified regenerated cellulose (MRG) sourced mainly from Eucalyptus trees as their core. It is then coated with aluminium and/or mineral pigments for reflectivity and topped with a thin plastic layer (e.g. styrene acrylate or epoxy resins). This is why industrial bio glitter is not 100% plastic free.

According to the manufacturers, certified biodegradable glitter decomposes into non-toxic substances, minimizing the risk of environmental pollution and harm to wildlife. Additionally, many biodegradable glitter brands prioritize sustainable sourcing and production practices, further reducing their ecological footprint.

However, in 2021 The Journal of Hazardous Materials published the first study to test the effects of glitter on the environment and compared the ecological impacts of conventional versus biodegradable glitter in a freshwater habitat. One of the reasons behind this study is that even if glitter is retained by waste-water treatment plants in sludge, when biosolids are applied to soil almost 100% of the microplastics is transported into aquatic habitats. The results of this study shows that all types of glitter, conventional or non-biodegradable PET glitter, and alternative glitter made from cellulose, as well natural and synthetic mica, all can affect our aquatic ecosystems. PET, modified regenerated cellulose and mica glitter reduced the root length of duckweed. Modified regenerated cellulose glitter led to an increase of invasive mud snails. All glitter reduced chlorophyll content in the water column. Further studies are needed to confirm the impact of all these products on our eco-system.

 

All that glitters is litter Ecological impacts of conventional versus biodegradable glitter in a freshwater habitat

Image Source: Green, Jefferson, Boots, Stone,  “All that glitters is litter? Ecological impacts of conventional versus biodegradable glitter in a freshwater habitat” – Journal of Hazardous Materials – Volume 402, 15 January 2021, 124070.

 

Related: 12 Plastic Free Shampoo Brands You Can Feel Good About Using

 

The 9 Best Biodegradable Glitter Brands and Other Plastic Free Glitter Alternatives To Try

When shopping for biodegradable glitter, several factors should be taken into account, including the materials used, certifications, and the brand’s commitment to sustainability. Look for products certified as biodegradable and sourced from renewable materials to ensure their eco-friendly credentials.

Numerous brands specialize in eco-friendly glitter made of cellulose, mica, or other minerals, offering a wide range of colors, sizes, and finishes to suit various preferences and applications. From chunky festival glitters to ultra-fine cosmetic grades, there’s a biodegradable glitter option for every need. Some notable brands include Hemway, Eco Glitter Fun, and BioGlitz, each renowned for their commitment to sustainability and quality.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. This helps us continue the hard work we put into researching products and solutions. 

Important Disclaimer: While we make our best efforts to scout plastic-free products around the world, we are also aware that 100% biodegradable and plastic free commercial glitter might not exist. In this article, we are presenting the best versions of what is available on the market based on the information provided by the suppliers and their certifications.

 

1) Today Glitter 

Today Glitter

Today Glitter™️ is the first company in the USA to become a verified retail partner of Bioglitter™️. Its appearance is similar to traditional plastic glitter, however, bio glitter is made from totally different raw materials, it’s made of cellulose sourced from Eucalyptus trees. You can recognize if it’s authentic because it has only an hexagonal shape. No other shapes are currently available or offered anywhere in the world. They offer different product ranges for arts & crafts and cosmetic applications like Certified Cosmetic Biodegradable glitter made with Cosmetic Bioglitter® Pure & Cosmetic Bioglitter Holo™️ . Both have been proven to degrade up to 90% in the natural environment in just 28 days and are compliant with the new ECHA adopted European Union micro-plastic Legislation (EU 2023/2035). Their Eco Glitter is 92% plastic free.

Their HOLO bioglitter is the first holographic silver glitter of its kind that is truly environmentally friendly and biodegradable. When it is in contact with natural water sources, it breaks down within four weeks and does not leave harmful microplastics behind.

Biodegradability: up to 90% (Cosmetic Bioglitter® Pure & Cosmetic Bioglitter Holo™️)

Made in: Germany

Shipping from: the USA

Shop Today Glitter

 

 

2) Alternative Imagination 

Alternative Imagination Biodegradable Glitter

Their glitters are made of microcrystalline cellulose derived from plants instead of plastic, and break down wherever microbes are present. Designed and manufactured in America, each glitter is made of FDA-approved ingredients that are safe for the body as well as the environment and have passed numerous domestic and international standards set by the International Organizations of Standards, ASTM International, the companies that determine the European Standards. Those tests determine the biodegradability in soil and aqueous solutions, as well as safety from incidental absorption. Over 100 days, their glitter safely biodegraded at 91.77%! While it may not reach 100%, the remaining inert material is either natural and/or not harmful to the environment.

The glitters are perfect for cosmetics as well as crafting! Softer than typical glitter, it is safer to use on the body and can be mixed with lotions, gels, and oils without dissolving, and is perfect for decorating vases, clothes, festival totems, and more.

Biodegradability: 91.77%

Made in: the USA

Shipping from: the USA

Shop on Amazon USA

 

Related: Easy DIY Zero Waste Beauty Recipes

 

3) NOMO Glitter

NOMO Glitter

NOMO glitter is made from FSC-accredited forest Eucalyptus trees. It’s composed of 93% regenerated cellulose, 2.5% plant-derived glycerin, 2.5% epoxy resin, 2% pigments and aluminum. They believe that providing a more affordable plant-based product presents the best strategy for reducing the world’s reliance on single-use plastic. We love their motto: Say NOMO Plastic Glitter!

Biodegradability: above 90%

Made in: n.a.

Shipping from: the USA

Shop on Amazon USACanadaUKAustralia

 

4) Projekt Glitter

Projekt Glitter Biodegradable Glitter

Projekt Glitter is a Berlin-based company whose products are made from regenerated eucalyptus cellulose that is responsibly sourced in the EU and produced in Germany. This ensures that they’re not only reducing our reliance on harmful plastics but also promoting responsible forestry and keeping things local. Their biodegradable glitter breaks down naturally within 6 months, leaving no harmful microplastics behind.

Their collection includes the Sparkle Glitter, which is 94% plastic-free & the Pearlescent Glitter, which is 100% plastic-free, however the last is not not vegan as it includes shellac, a natural product derived from the resin secreted by the female lac bug. All ingredients are listed on their website.

Biodegradability: see above.

Made in: Germany

Shipping from: Germany, Europe

Shop Projekt Glitter on Etsy

 

Related: Why You Should Switch to Plastic Free Skincare

 

5) EcoGlitz

EcoGlitz Crystal Glitter

EcoGlitz has developed a long-lasting organic, vegan crystal glitter gels with no plastic and therefore ocean safe! All products are handcrafted in small batches with certified organic plant ingredients and shimmering crystals. Their gels are safe to use on body, face, hair, and sensitive parts like lips and eyes.

This product is based on synthetic mica (also synthetic fluorophlogopite), which mimics the effect of natural mica but is made in a lab but constructed of natural minerals, so it doesn’t create microplastics.

EcoGlitz is easy to apply and comes in 20 colorful hues. When dried the EcoGlitz metallic gloss will appear and stay for a long time!

The EcoGlitz cream just dissolves and the quartz crystals simply return to nature, it’s like merely adding sand to the ocean. Nothing is left but dust. No glitter bits in your bed, clothes or on the ground. It’s a ‘Leave No Trace’ product that many festival promoters now require.

Biodegradability: see above.

Made in: Australia

Shipping from: Australia

Shop EcoGlitz on Etsy

 

6) DIY Non Toxic Glitter Made of Corn Starch

This DIY recipe only uses corn flour, water, and some food coloring. It’s perfect for a project with the whole family.

 

7) DIY Salt Glitter

This DIY glitter recipe uses just salt and food coloring as a base.

 

Related: 6 Eco-Friendly Hair Brushes without Environmental Footprint

 

8) DIY Edible Glitter Made of Sugar

This homemade glitter recipe uses just sugar and food coloring as a base and it’s therefore intended for consumption.

 

9) DIY Colored Rice or Colored Sand Glitter 

You can make organic glitter with rice and food coloring or an inorganic version with sand!

Rainbow Rice – How to Dye Rice For Sensory Play (without Rubbing Alcohol)

 

Exploring the Applications of Eco Friendly Biodegradable Glitter

Cosmetic Glitter: Biodegradable Glitter Make Up 

Biodegradable glitter has gained popularity in the cosmetics industry as a sustainable alternative to traditional glitter in makeup products such as eyeshadows, lip glosses, nails and body glitters. Its versatility and eco-friendly properties make it an attractive choice for consumers seeking to enhance their beauty routines with a lower impact on the environment.

 

Festival and Event Decoration: Biodegradable Body Glitter / Face Glitter for Body Art

Festivals and events often incorporate glitter as part of their vibrant aesthetic. Biodegradable glitter provides organizers and attendees with a more sustainable option for adding sparkle to festivities without leaving behind a trail of plastic pollution. Many ethical festival organisers are now requiring microplastic free glitter as part of the festival conditions.

 

Crafting and DIY Projects: Craft Glitter

From handmade cards to custom artwork, biodegradable glitter offers crafters a guilt-free way to add sparkle to their projects. Whether it’s embellishing greeting cards or creating dazzling decorations, crafters can unleash their creativity while minimizing their environmental impact. We strogly recommend to use only the DIY glitter alternatives and recipes we linked in this article.

 

Related: 7 Best Plastic Free Eye Creams

 

Conclusion: Use Commercial Glitter in Moderation, and Be Careful of the Products You Buy!

As consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions, the demand for sustainable alternatives to traditional products continues to rise. Biodegradable glitter represents a positive step towards reducing microplastic pollution and promoting eco-conscious consumption practices, however, use it in moderation and pay attention to the products you buy, as every product has an impact on the environment. In summary:

  • Biodegradable glitter offers a more sustainable alternative to traditional glitter, minimizing environmental harm.
  • When selecting biodegradable glitter products, consider factors such as materials, certifications, and brand sustainability practices.
  • If possible use DIY glitter alternatives and DIY glitter recipes like the ones we linked in this article.
  • Use commercial glitter products in moderation, even if biodegradable/compostable.

 

Browse our database to find more plastic free beauty products.

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