Is body glitter biodegradable? (3 ingredients of body glitter) 

This article will explain the biodegradability status of body glitter. Other covered aspects would include:

  • What is body glitter?
  • What is body glitter made of?
  • What are the effects of non-biodegradable material?
  • What is biodegradability?
  • Is body glitter biodegradable?
  • What is eco-glitter and is it eco-friendly?
  • FAQs

Is body glitter biodegradable?

Body glitter is made from materials such as plastics, polyester and acrylic polymers which are not biodegradable.

However, eco glitter made from plant-based sources is biodegradable and will degrade as compared to its non-degradable counterpart. 

As regards the environmental impact of eco glitter, it is claimed that the case is sadly no different than conventional cosmetic glitter. It is explored that the environmental impacts of eco glitter are still not that glittery because these eco glitters put aquatic life at risk. 

Body glitter, however, is regarded as safe for the skin with no such irritation or skin issues. However, consumers are advised to ensure that body glitter is FDA approved and of good quality. 

What is body glitter?

Body glitter, also known as body shimmer, is a cosmetic product which is usually applied to different parts of the body to add glow and increase the vibrancy of the skin’s surface. 

The next big question is what materials are used in the making of body glitter. Body glitter or cosmetic glitter is usually made from the following materials: 

  • PET (Polyurethane terephthalate)
  • Polyester
  • Acrylic polymer 

The use of glitter is not only limited to cosmetics. Glitter has also expanded used in arts and crafts. However, there are certain discrepancies between cosmetic glitter and craft glitter. 

The major one is that since cosmetic glitter has to be applied to the skin, it is important to ensure that there are no toxic effects of such glitter on the skin so that any disease or medical complications may be avoided. This is not that great of a necessity in the case of craft glitter. 

Another difference between body and craft glitter is that the former is more finely milled. As a result, body glitter is cut into circular shapes whereas craft glitter may produce sharp edges which may come from hexagonal shapes. 

The next big question is whether cosmetic glitter is truly safe for human skin. Regarding this, it is claimed that body glitters are made with special consideration to be safe for the human skin. There are no toxic products used in the making of body glitters. 

Also, most cosmetic glitters are made while ensuring that no damage or irritation is caused to the skin. However, even then, excessive and prolonged use of body glitter is not advised as it could create problems. 

What is body glitter made of? (3 materials) 

Body glitter, also termed cosmetic glitter, is usually made from plastic or aluminium. Although it has been stated that there are no significant and urgent threats of body glitter to the skin, this is not the case for our environment.

Materials like plastics are considered non-biodegradable and will remain in the environment for an extended period of time. Some even claim that plastics may remain in the environment for as long as a thousand years. 

The most commonly used materials for the making of cosmetic glitter include polyester, PET (a plastic), and acrylic polymer. 

Sadly, all these materials are derived from fossil fuel products. And therefore, there will be significant impacts of body glitter on the environment. These impacts shall be explored in the next section of the article. 

What are the effects of non-biodegradable material? 

Body glitter is made from non-biodegradable materials. This section will explore the effects caused by non-biodegradable material. 

The biggest harm that is caused by non-biodegradable waste is the fact that it adds to waste generation and waste accumulation. When waste is accumulated and generated in excess amounts, it leads to the decapacitation of waste management systems.

If we are not able to properly manage and segregate waste, then their impacts will be translated and reciprocated in every aspect, domain, and level of life and the environment. 

This is mainly because the waste will cause pollution and environmental degradation. The effects of waste on animals and humans can also not be ignored. 

To further assert this, consider the case of non-biodegradable plastics. Plastic waste is regarded as non-biodegradable. Even though there are many measures taken to ensure that plastic waste is either reused or disposed of properly; regardless of it, plastic waste affects more than 700 species on land. 

Now imagine what will happen if those preventive measures fail. The whole world will be faced with an irreversible catastrophe. The accumulated waste will make the whole Earth a huge dustbin. 

Another major impact that is caused and rendered by non-biodegradable waste is the emissions of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ethylene, SOx, and NOx are responsible for a plethora of environmental anomalies. 

When non-biodegradable waste is produced and processed, there is the usage of non-renewable resources and products from fossil fuels. This leads to the burning of fossil fuels that adds GHGs to the environment. 

The most catastrophic effect rendered by the GHGs is the phenomenon of global warming. Global warming leads to another set of various environmental problems such as:

  • Melting of glaciers
  • Rising sea levels
  • Increased global temperatures
  • Unforeseen weather patterns
  • Floods
  • Droughts
  • Deforestation
  • Pollution
  • Disruption of ecosystems
  • Destruction of habitats
  • Loss of life
  • Endangerment of species 
  • Infiltrations into the food chains 
  • Degradation of air quality
  • Smog 
  • Acid rains 
  • Acidification of water bodies
  • Damage to crops
  • Infertility of soil

The effects of non-biodegradable waste, such as chemical waste, are not just limited to animal species and the environment. Humans are also directly and immensely impacted by the occurrence of non-biodegradable waste. 

Non-biodegradable waste is responsible for a plethora of human-related problems and diseases. Some of them can be mentioned as an example:

  • Cancer
  • Neuro complications
  • Neuro toxicity 
  • Developmental issues
  • Hormone disruption
  • Damage to children
  • Lung cancer 
  • Skin problems 
  • Nephrological complications 
  • Autism
  • Infertility 
  • Behavioural problems 

What is biodegradability?

Biodegradability can be defined as a process in which biological agents such as enzymes and microbes break down complex waste into simpler structures. The simpler structures are thus able to get back to the system. 

Every day you come across the process of biodegradation. The rotten vegetables that you dispose of or the spoiled fruits that you think can not be eaten. These are common, everyday examples of biodegradation. 

It is the very process of biodegradation that is responsible for the spoilage of food. It can be termed the necessary evil because on one side food is spoiled but on the other side, it is ensured that there is no waste accumulation. 

If there is waste accumulation, there will be environmental problems and anomalies because the waste will lead to problems such as pollution and human diseases. 

Other than microbes and enzymes, there are also external factors that play a key role in the process of biodegradation. These include:

  • Sunlight 
  • Temperature
  • Aeration
  • Presence or absence of oxygen 
  • Type of microbes

Based on biodegradability, waste may be divided into two categories. These are 

  • Biodegradable waste
  • Non-biodegradable waste 

Examples of biodegradable waste include crops, plants, dead animals, manure, sewage, bioplastics, and natural fabrics. These may degrade in some days or some months. 

Examples of non-biodegradable waste may include synthetic plastics, epoxies, synthetic dyes, and synthetic fabrics like acrylic fabrics. These substances may remain in landfills for hundreds of years. 

For example, synthetic plastics may degrade in more than a thousand years while also causing other environmental problems such as global warming, weather anomalies et cetera.

Is body glitter biodegradable?

Most of the body glitter is made from materials such as plastics which are not biodegradable. Other than being non-biodegradable, body glitter is also known to affect marine and aquatic life. 

However, this is not the final case. There have been some interventions as well. One such is the making of eco-glitter. As the name implies, this type of glitter is made from plant sources such as eucalyptus trees. Another example of eco-glitter is mica glitter. 

While this eco-glitter is biodegradable, there may be a thin layer of plastic used which would not be biodegradable. 

As regards the environmental impact of eco glitter, it is claimed that the case is sadly no different than conventional cosmetic glitter. 

As per recent research, it is explored that the environmental impacts of eco glitter are still not that glittery because these eco glitters put aquatic life at risk. 

In the research, the impacts of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable glitters were studied and it was found that the impacts are similar in both cases. The most affected were primary producers. 

It was even claimed that the effect of eco glitter was harsher because eco glitter, when disposed of, encourages the growth of New Zealand mud snails that affect the food webs down there in the oceans. 

Various other researchers have also validated that eco glitters cause adverse environmental impacts on water bodies such as rivers and lakes.

Conclusion 

It is concluded that most of the body glitter is made from materials such as plastics, polyester and acrylic polymers which are not biodegradable.

However, eco glitter made from plant-based sources is biodegradable and will degrade as compared to its non-degradable counterpart. 

As regards the environmental impact of eco glitter, it is claimed that the case is sadly no different than conventional cosmetic glitter. It is explored that the environmental impacts of eco glitter are still not that glittery because these eco glitters put aquatic life at risk. 

Body glitter, however, is regarded as safe for the skin with no such irritation or skin issues. However, consumers are advised to ensure that body glitter is FDA approved and of good quality. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is body glitter biodegradable?

Are there any natural alternatives to glitter?

Yes, you can use sand, salt and sugar-based glitter as a natural and organic alternative to conventional glitter.

Does eco glitter deliver the same quality as conventional glitters?

Yes, eco glitter gives the same utilitarian value as conventional glitter. There is no significant trade-off here. 

References

  • Green, D. S., Jefferson, M., Boots, B., & Stone, L. (2021). All that glitters is litter. Ecological impacts of conventional versus biodegradable glitter in a freshwater habitat. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 402, 124070.
  • Perosa, M., Guerranti, C., Renzi, M., & Bevilacqua, S. (2021). Taking the sparkle off the sparkling time. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 170, 112660.
  • Yurtsever, M. (2019). Glitters as a source of primary microplastics: an approach to environmental responsibility and ethics. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 32(3), 459-478.
  • Steffen, Luana. (November 3, 2020). Eco-Glitter Is Not So Eco-Friendly, Here’s Why. Retrieved from: https://www.intelligentliving.co/eco-glitter-not-so-eco-friendly/

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