Did you wear glitter makeup on New Year’s Eve? Do you don the sparkles when going out? Do you let your children wear glitter nail polish or cosmetics at Halloween?
As a former preschool teacher, glitter was a favorite material for children. Parents would often comment how they were glad their children got to play with bits of sparkle at school because inevitably giltter gets everywhere. On the floor, tracked into other rooms, glitter, glitter, everywhere!
Glitter makeup and nail polish are quite trendy: glitter boobs, glitter eyes, glitter tongues. Even though the glitter is bound in the makeup or nail polish medium, it does not stay fixed. When washed off after a night of revelry, glitter makeup ends up in rivers, streams, and oceans.
Glitter Makeup Contains Microplastic
Glitter is a microplastic.1)https://www.sierraclub.org/california/capitol-voice-january-2018#Glitter EcoWatch explains one of the problems with microplastics:
For one, there’s the issue of how microplastics like cosmetic glitter—made by bonding aluminum with polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—impact sensitive ecosystems. That’s because PETs leach out endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which, when eaten by marine life, can cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects, said Farrelly. In this recent study, microplastics are shown to significantly impact the reproduction rates of oysters.
Then there’s the domino-like effect of microplastics through the food-chain, for the sheer volume of microplastics consumed by seafood-loving humans is staggering. This study from the University of Ghent found that Europeans who eat shellfish can consume as much as 11,000 microplastics per year. But what are some of the long-term implications from glitter passing through the food-chain?2)https://www.ecowatch.com/glitter-banned-2507482052.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=f555d8f011-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-f555d8f011-85357185
US law limits glitter particle size in cosmetics can be to protect the human eye from cornea scratches. Yet this very small size it what causes problems in the food chain.3)https://diycosmetics.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/glitters-in-cosmetics/
Aluminum in Glitter Makeup
Another possible human health concern is the aluminum contained in glitter cosmetics and nail polish. The skin is the largest organ in the human body. The epidermis absorbs whatever is placed upon it into the body’s bloodstream.
Many cosmetics include aluminum powder, and the FDA restricts its use. According to the Environmental Working Group, aluminum is of high concern as a “known human nervous system toxicant”.4)https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700324/ALUMINUM_POWDER/#.WmN0P7bMw6g Furthermore, the nanoparticle size means absorption of the metal through the skin is likely.
Safer Glitter Makeup
If you simply can’t give up your glitter cosmetic adornments, there are safer brands for both you and the earth. Glitter Revolution promises their products are made from plants, not plastic. It’s biodegradable and handmade in California. They have also partnered with 5 Gyres Institute to protect the oceans rather than harm marine life like other glitter cosmetics.
annca / Pixabay: Image credit
References [ + ]