There are two seasons – festival and festive – during which it was, until recently, not only acceptable but positively encouraged for adults to adorn themselves with glitter. Then environmental protection agencies began describing glitter – craft and cosmetic – as a “problem plastic”: it pollutes waters and endangers the sea life involuntarily ingesting the sparkly particles we’ve unthinkingly washed down the plughole.
But beauty magpies, take heart. You may sparkle with impunity this Christmas because bio glitter, made from cellulose film derived from sustainable eucalyptus trees, is vegan-friendly and breaks down in water or soil in relatively short order. I found most bio glitters to be much of a muchness – all as sparkly as regular glitter and used in the same way. The only qualitative comparison came via shade and size selection (from the super fine, safer for use around the eyes, to the chunky, perhaps better for hair and décolleté).
The best selections were by Eco Glitter Fun (from £4) and EcoStardust Biodegradable Glitter (from £1.50). Both brands offer a large range of colours and blends, plus recyclable packaging, and donate some of their proceeds to environmental projects. These are loose glitters – to stick adequately on the face, you’ll need a moist, tacky surface to cling on to the particles (for sparkly mermaid hair, sprinkle eco glitter on top of an everyday hair gel). Natural aloe vera gel is non-drying, cheap (£2 for 100ml from Holland & Barrett), doesn’t dull the glitter and works well, though for more precision and long-lasting application, use a brush and lash glue (Duo, £5.99, is by far the best).
If you’d prefer to just daub and go, BOD’s Mermaid Body Glitter Gel (£5) has the bio glitter suspended in a sticky base; but bear in mind these easier-to-use versions give a sparser sparkle than loose glitter, and often contain high levels of alcohol that could cause dryness and discomfort (EcoStardust’s vegan-friendly Bio Glitter Beauty Balm, £6 for 10g, was the gentlest I found). In any case, the best removal method is to wrap a little sticky tape around your fingers and lift the excess glitter as though lifting lint from clothing; saturate what’s left in warm water and use a flannel to dislodge stubborn specks.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010