From Kim Kardashian West wearing literally nothing other than bronze body glitter to promote her newest creation, Ultalight Beam highlighters and glosses, to the unicorn makeup trend of bedecked and bedazzled eyelids and lips, and skin care companies that are now infusing actual glitter into masks and such, the glitter train isn’t slowing down anytime soon. But despite the illuminating and disco ball-like effect that glitter can give to pretty much any square inch of your body where it’s applied, there is a downside to the punch it packs and it has to do with the environment.
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Every time you use—and then wash off—a glitter-based beauty product, the sparkly material that falls out, as well as the sparkles themselves, end up traveling through your bathroom sink drain and then wreaking havoc. “Glitter is going to escape down the plughole and potentially enter the environment,” UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove told The Independent. In fact, 51 trillion pieces of microplastics have been found in ocean water, which can easily be consumed by everything and anything that lives in the sea. Once those particles are digested, no matter how large or small the animal is that has consumed it, the end result is often death because the particles can’t be properly broken down. But if dying sea animals wasn’t enough, those that can survive after devouring the glitter pieces, like fish, are likely to still contain the plastic– and aluminum-based particles—so who knows what’s really in the fish you’re eating today.
While it’s too early in the game to tell in the glitter that we know and love will eventually become banned, we do know that using mineral-based pigments and biodegradable glitters are definitely the safer bet.
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