Is Glitter Banned in Makeup? 2023 Restrictions Explained

By Emily M.| Last updated on December 18, 2023
glitter banned
⏱️ 4 min read

Glittery makeup has seen such a revival in the past few years – thanks Euphoria! It was just what we needed after the mass obsession with all kinds of matte products in the mid to late 2010s.

But there seems to be a possibility that the fun will come to a sudden halt very soon.

Pretty much all social media channels are buzzing right now with the news that the EU is making some moves that will potentially ban glitter and limit our favorite looks. But is that really the case – is glitter banned in makeup and cosmetics?

Let’s take a closer look at the restriction and see whether it will have any real impact on our beauty routines!

So, Is Glitter Banned Anywhere In the World?

As of October 2023, the European Union has officially banned the sale of all products containing loose plastic glitter and microbeads, which are not biodegradable or dissolvable.

This action is actually a small part of the bigger picture, while they try to cut on the production of microplastic in member nations.

So, what does this mean? All products and cosmetics that contain loose glitter will no longer be available on the shelves in the EU because they destroy the environment and pollute the water. However, not all forms of glitter are banned.

You can still use biodegradable glitter, which is often found in makeup, skincare, or nail products. Water-soluble, natural ingredients are considered biodegradable, and so are those made of glass and metal.

If you happen to come across a makeup product containing loose glitter, you’re still welcome to buy it since they didn’t want to cause more pollution by dumping everything in the trash.

Products that are still sitting on the shelves will continue to be sold until they’re finally out of stock.

Makeup products that contain glitter can be sold until 2035, but there needs to be a special label on them that says that they contain microplastics.

is glitter banned by euImage source: Freepik 

Why Would We Need to Ban Glitter in the First Place?

The fact of the matter is that our planet is absolutely infested with microplastics – it has gone so far that some were even found in women’s breastmilk.

Plastic in general takes millions of years to biodegrade, which means that all the plastic that was ever created is still around and won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

Microplastics are microscopic, as you can assume from their name. Their size allows them to be ingested by animals who rummage through landfills, and through them, microplastics spread through the ecosystem like wildfire.

This means that they’re even found in human organisms, as we mentioned above, and they’re not doing us any favors health-wise.

Unfortunately, there’s just no way to stop people from buying products with microplastics, no matter how many awareness campaigns are put out by various organizations.

Keeping this in mind, the EU had to step in and ban the production of microplastics so that they wouldn’t even hit the market.

A Look at the Bigger Picture

As part of the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission created the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

This is a document that, among other things, sets a goal to reduce microplastic pollution by at least 30% until 2030.

As part of this action plan, it was decided to limit the production of all products that contain these microplastics, and, unfortunately, glitter is part of this category.

However, glitter won’t be the only thing getting banned from your favorite makeup and skincare products – for example, microplastics are also found in different mechanical scrubs.

Companies that produce all kinds of different things will also need to change their practices. This means that detergents, car paint, and many other products that promise a ‘shine’ will be affected.

This means that there will be some major changes in the cosmetic industry, but nothing a consumer needs to worry about.

If you’re not running a company that uses or produces excessive amounts of microplastics, you’ll be fine.

@choosefinch #Lets break down (no pun intended) what microplastics are why they’re important to be aware for the health of the 🌎 and yourself #microplastics #fyp ♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box - takaya

What Will Happen to Glitter in the Makeup Industry?

When it comes to consumer-grade makeup products that hit the shelves, you won’t even be able to spot the difference.

Scientists have been able to see this ban coming from a mile away – especially given all the scary reasons that brought it on in the first place – and have successfully created an alternative that will be available for sale in no time.

Back in 2021, a group of scientists from Cambridge University published a paper detailing how a different material can be used to make glitter, and this one is much less dangerous!

This new glitter is not made out of plastic, but cellulose. If treated correctly, cellulose can be biodegraded in a matter of months or even weeks, meaning that it’s far less of a threat to our health and the environment than plastics.

This is because cellulose is primarily made out of plant- or algae-based materials, or mineral pigments in some (albeit rarer) cases.

The cellulose glitter was specifically designed to be just that – a form of glitter – so it will be as reflective and as colorful as we’re used to.

Plus, this new type of glitter will be much easier to remove from the skin using just soap and water, which is a huge step forward from having to scrape your face with the plastic glitter every time you wear it – and not to mention finding it EVERYWHERE later on.

Cover image source: Freepik



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