An important bit of news for the Euphoria-makeup inclined: This year, Glastonbury festival organisers have banned the use of traditional body glitters across the festival. And they’re not alone: For a few years, there have been rumblings that several UK-based independent festivals were planning to forbid the use of glitter on site. But as far as we can tell, Glastonbury is the first to go through with the ban, instead encouraging festivalgoers to pack biodegradable glitter for embellishing their skin, hair, campsite flags, and whatever else.
To help you navigate the terminology and rules, I looked into what biodegradable glitter actually is and spent some time discovering the best UK-based biodegradable-glitter brands and stockists. And if, like me, you’ve left it until the last minute to order a pot for Glastonbury (or whatever festival you’re off to this summer), don’t worry: I’ve also included some next-day delivery options.
What is traditional glitter made of, and why isn’t it biodegradable?
Each speck of nonbiodegradable glitter, or traditional glitter, is a compound of plastic and another reflective material, most commonly aluminium. To make glitter, large sheets of the colourful plastic and aluminium blend are sliced into teeny-tiny individual shapes such as hexagons or stars. This means that glitter is a microplastic, and unless you’re scraping it off back into the pot, it’s a single-use plastic.
Why has Glastonbury banned nonbiodegradable glitter, then?
The decision follows a larger trend across a majority of industries and businesses to move away from single-use plastics. If you’ve ever suffered through drinking a McDonald’s milkshake using a paper straw, it will have already affected you. Glitter is a huge contributor to the single-use plastic issue: One study estimated that 5,512 tons of microplastic waste is produced per year in the European beauty industry alone.
Over the past few years, it’s become hard to ignore reports of large volumes of traditional glitter polluting rivers and poisoning wildlife. Medical professionals have also raised concerns about the potential dangers of traditional-glitter makeup when it’s not removed properly (3 a.m. festival bedtimes, anyone?), warning of scratched corneas and stinging eyes after makeup drifts into the eye.
What is biodegradable glitter?
Biodegradable glitter is composed of materials that decompose naturally in soil or water. The most common of these ingredients is plant-derived cellulose, which can be found in fruits, vegetables, and wood pulp. We found that cellulose extracted from eucalyptus plants is quite a common biodegradable material and is used in many water-soluble glitters (products that fully dissolve when introduced to fresh water). Ultimately, it’s a more sustainable way to achieve the impact of shimmer. Below, we’ve listed a couple of retailers that sell biodegradable glitter as well as some information on the materials used in each pot.
Eco Glitter Fun is a Glasto-approved trader, shortlisted at the festival’s sustainability awards in 2019. The brand is a licensed seller of Bioglitter, whose products were 2017 winners of In-Cosmetics Global’s innovation award and have been certified as biodegradable by Tüv, a rigorous German inspection bureau whose certifications are globally accredited.
Made from plant-derived cellulose, the glitter contains no microplastics and is 100 percent vegan. It’s available in an impressive range of collections and shades. We particularly like this brand-exclusive mix of aquamarine colours you can use on your face and body, in your hair, and to craft with. Shipping from Eco Glitter Fun takes four working days, and as you’d expect, all packaging is recycle bin friendly (and has actually already been recycled itself).
EcoStardust is another biodegradable-glitter option. Its products can be used on the face, on the body, and in hair as well as to upcycle old jewellery (as the brand does on its website). It uses the water-soluble glitters from Bioglitter to make its exclusive in-house mixes. While the brand offers bold, vibrant, and chunky mixes, it was this much-finer pot of soft pink glitter — aptly called Baby — that caught our eye. I think a light dusting would look great on top of some cheekbone highlighter, and add some delicate shimmer to a cut crease. And as it’s stocked on ASOS, it’s labeled as available for next-day delivery. Providing that Evri actually gets the job done, you should be sorted for Worthy Farm and beyond.
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