Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

Filomena Kaguako

The Orgasm Gap: ‘We have this frustrating myth that sex is easy and innate’

Aoife Drury

Single parenting in a pandemic: ‘I cry alone in the car so the kids don’t...

Lia Hynes

Author Ruth Gilligan: ‘I have slowly colonised our flat’s small second bedroom into my writing...

Sophie Grenham

About 400,000 women in Ireland have this condition and don’t know


Why the 2021 Golden Globes are being overshadowed by controversy

Jennifer McShane

3 rural homes in Co Cork on sale for €175,000 and under

Megan Burns

GALLERY: Beautiful gowns from The Golden Globes through the years

Jennifer McShane

Practical and stylish: 12 baskets we absolutely love for every budget

Megan Burns

Image / Beauty

This is why people are calling for glitter to be banned

by Jennifer McShane
27th Mar 2019

Glitter; a dusting of sparkle we put on presents, our clothes and faces isn’t just a pretty substance to look at – it could also be doing some very real damage to our environment.

There are few who aren’t drawn to its alluring ethereal fragments (especially as festival time comes around) so it might surprise some to realise the damage even a small amount can do.

This is due to the amount of plastic it contains.

Related: The impressive, Irish innovators leading the way in sustainable fashion

Standard glitter is made from etched aluminium bonded to polyethylene terephthalate – a form of microplastic that can find its way into the oceans. It can pose a danger to people and animals and, as most glitter is made up of tiny plastic particles, some as small as mere nanometers in diameter, they take about 1,000 years to biodegrade.

In the UK, a call for a ban on glitter is gaining more traction; 60 UK festivals (and counting), including Bestival, Shambala and Boomtown, have pledged to remove glitter from their campgrounds by 2021, and a new petition asks for it to be banned altogether.

“Glitter might look lovely but, because it’s plastic, it sticks around long after the sparkle has gone – often in the stomachs of fish and birds,” David Innes, from the campaign group 38 Degrees, who launched the petition told The Guardian. 

Related: Lush launches first package-free shop in the UK

In particular, supermarkets are accused of dragging their heels on the issue and failing to remove glitter from their seasonal ranges, due to it being difficult to revamp products while doing so.

But, so far, overseas Aldi and Waitrose are committed to halting the use of glitter on many products.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Glittergasm NZ (@glittergasmnz) on

An alternate source for glitter

There is another source of glitter that isn’t made of a plastic known as the mineral mica or “nature’s glitter,” which, when finely milled, and has a naturally shimmery finish. Mica is one of the most important mineral ingredients in cosmetics, used widely to add shimmer and sparkle.

However, ethical concerns have been raised about the use of this, as the Indian region that’s home to the world’s largest natural reserves has been reported to have high levels of child labour and poor worker safety.

Related: Taking a sustainable approach to dressing can be as simple as sharing and swapping

Brands that do use this variation are aware of the issues and some brands such as L’Oréal are doing their bit to help, partnering with NGOs to help ensure sustainable, fair procurement of mica.

But how will you know if this has been used? Diligent product label checking is the only way of knowing for sure at the moment.

Main photograph: Unsplash

More like this:

  • 10 things we learned from our visit to the recycling centre… here
  • Go Green in 2019: Eight ways to break up with plastic… here
  • Is sustainability a class issue?… here

Also Read

dyeing hair at home
A celebrity guide to styling, cutting and dyeing your hair at home

Though not all of us can have Ryan Reynolds on-hand for the home hair dye job or Bruce Willis wielding an electric razor.

By Holly O'Neill

Gareth Bromell’s guide to healthier hair while you’re stuck at home

Gareth Bromell, a global talent in hair who has worked with...

By Holly O'Neill

What’s in your vanity cabinet? Three IMAGE beauty writers reveal the skincare products they can’t live without

From gua shas to day creams, we asked three of our beauty...


The greatest brow growth serums for fuller, fluffier eyebrows


By Holly O'Neill

Cosmetic injectables: ‘It takes a brave and honourable clinic to tell someone ‘you don’t need this”

 Less may be more when it comes to cosmetic enhancements,...

By Amanda Cassidy

Want long and lustrous locks? Try these 5 miraculous hair products

Tired of dealing with flat and frizzy hair? These five...

By Shayna Sappington

Fenty Skin is now available in Ireland — meet the range

Fenty Skin’s four product offering is a cleanser, toner-serum, an...

By Holly O'Neill

Is hair damage the root of our styling problems?

Here’s how to tell if your hair is damaged and...

By Holly O'Neill