I’ve written elsewhere at Leaf Score about the environmental impact of glitter and its effects on human health and the health of seabirds and fish. Does that mean the world has lost a little of its glam and will soon be short on shimmer? No! For those of you who love a little sparkle, here are some of the best eco-friendly non-toxic glitter and glitter nail polishes that won’t harm the environment or your health.
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The Best Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Glitter
Bioglitz are my top choice for straight-up eco-friendly non-toxic glitter. This glitter is biodegradable and compostable, hasn’t been tested on animals and is free of GMO ingredients. The company has a strong environmental ethos (having been established solely to create eco-friendly glitter!) and even the trees used to create their biodegradable film are all sourced from Forest Stewardship Council certified suppliers.
The biodegradable film used in BioGlitz biodegrades in sea water in accordance with the standard ASTM D7081-05. This might make it sound like the glitter will start to biodegrade on the shelf, but the company offers assurances that BioGlitz is very stable and will only start to break down in a soil, compost, or waste-water environment, where micro-organisms are present.
BioGlitz can be recycled with carton-board (but not with paper), is free of antimony, and meets the European (EN13432) and American (ASTM D6400) standards for compostability of a material, as well as the ISO standard (ISO 17088:2012(en)). This standard accounts for heavy metals in the glitter, biodegradation and disintegration of at least 90% in 90 days, and no ecotoxicity.
The BioGlitz range has options from around $15 to $50 or more for combo packs and kits. Colors and styles include the fabulously named Blue Lagoon, Blush Rose, Pink Please Duo, Psychedelic Beet, Silver Disco, Teal Time, Solar Flare, Purp for the Planet, The Gold Mine, Disco Chunk, Diamond Dust Gold, and It’s a Party Mix.
BioGlitz are also committed to charitable causes, including partnering with Born Just Right, a non-profit that helps parents and caregivers find and create solutions and technology to help children with differences lead more enjoyable and fulfilling lives.
Wild Glitter make environmentally friendly glitter from FSC certified wood pulp. The glitter complies with FDA and EU biodegradability standards and needs certain microorganisms and conditions to biodegrade, meaning it won’t break down on your skin or in the packet but will break down without risk to the environment when rinsed off.
Wild Glitter packaged their biodegradable glitter in recyclable aluminum pots with paper labels, packed with recycled paper shred in recyclable card packaging. All in all, you can tell that this company was set up by someone who likes to party and loves the environment.
Because they’re a UK company, you’ll probably want to get together with friends to put in a larger order at Wild Glitter. That way, with an order over $50, you’ll get free shipping. Wild Glitter have a rainbow sampler pack (perfect for Pride month!) for around $34, along with lots of other glittery options. In general, it works out to around $1.25 for 3 g of glitter in 5 colors, making this one of the most affordable eco-friendly glitter brands around.
Nurture Soap are another possible option for more eco-friendly glitter, but with a caveat. While they’ve taken the step of replacing all of their microplastic glitter with plastic-free alternatives, some of their offerings contain aluminum and other not so great ingredients.
Their Black Onyx EnviroGlitter and Super Sparkles EnviroGlitter seem like good options though, as these are made with minerals, including synthetic mica, and are vegan and cruelty-free. They cost around $1.99 for a 5 gram jar and can also be bought in bulk up to a whopping 5 kilograms for $576, should you be planning a huge glitter rave. Oh, and they even offer a glitter pump for just $3 for easy glitter dispensing if you’re making bath bombs and want to keep the mess to a minimum.
Unfortunately, some Nurture Soap products appear to contain conventional mica (which they state is ‘responsibly sourced’, without offering any additional info). I’d suggest avoiding this, given the child labor, poor working conditions and related fatalities, and pollution associated with conventional mica mining. Check the ingredient info at Nurture Soap before buying or contact the company if the information is missing or unclear.
The Best Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Glitter Nail Polish
While it’s perfectly possible to concoct your own glitter nail polish using regular nail polish plus glitter, it’s a heck of a lot simpler to just use eco-friendly, non-toxic glitter nail polish that’s pre-made.
That said, rather disappointingly, even the best of the non-toxic nail polish brands, including Butter London and Suncoat, use PET (microplastics) in their glitter polishes. In fact, I’ve only been able to find three brands making glitter nail polish worthy of a Leaf Score recommendation: Keeki, Kester Black and Zoya, and none are perfect.
Keeki make water-based nail polish including glitter polish (View Price on Amazon) that gets its shimmer from mica rather than plastics. The ingredients of their Pure & Simple Rock Candy glitter include: water, acrylate copolymer, glycol, and likely mica, alongside red, green, blue, black, and green pigments. Other colors include Grasshopper Pie, Blue Slushie, and Earl Grey Tea. Just be sure not to get confused and consume these.
As with most water-based polishes, these polishes don’t seem to last quite as long as conventional solvent-based polish. Still, at just $5.99 for a 15 mL bottle, this is a very affordable way to get glammed up without microplastics, and Keeki’s glitter polish doesn’t contain the same potential hazards as Zoya and Kester Black. And, given how light the Rock Candy shade is, you could try applying a shimmery coat on top of a more robust polish, followed by a topcoat. You can read our full review here.
Zoya are a top pick for non-toxic nail polish in general and are rapidly becoming a household name. This brand was founded by a married couple named (surprise!) Zoya and Michael. I wonder why they went with her name and not his….
Zoya, a cosmetologist, and Michael, a chemist, concocted a range of glittery nail polishes that are 10-free (View Price on Amazon). This means they contain no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor, TPHP, parabens, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, or lead. And, happily, the glitter is seemingly mica based, rather than microplastic. There’s no clear indication of the source of the mica though, so if you’re concerned about child labor, it may be better to use a plain Zoya polish and add a little ecoglitter from elsewhere.
Also, looking at one of the Zoya glitter polishes, Stevie, the ingredients list comprises: Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Sterikonium Hectolite, Acrylates Copolymer, Styrene / Acrylates Copolymer. As with Kester Black, this product may pose a risk of health effects related to exposure to residual styrene and contaminants. You can read our full review here.
Kester Black are a leading ethical beauty and cosmetics brand in Australia, founded in 2014 by Anna Ross. They make nail polish that is 10-free, meaning it is free of formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, parabens, fragrances, phthalates and ethyl. They are also vegan, palm oil free and carbon neutral certified, and Kester Black are a B Corporation who donate 2% of profits to charity.
Kester Black offer four main metallic glitter nail polishes: Black Diamond, Champagne, Comet, and Dasher. Up until I contacted them in July this year, they stated on their website that their glitter was 100% biodegradable and it appeared to be based on mica rather than microplastics. Given the potential issues with mica mining, I reached out to the company to ask about the provenance of their mica. Through email, a company representative told me that they have recently changed manufacturers and while the polish is ethically sourced it is no longer biodegradable. I’ve asked for further clarification on this and will update this page when I have more information. For now, I’ve downgraded Kester Black glitter polish to just one leaf.
Depending on further communications, I may remove even this tentative recommendation for Kester Black, especially given that their polish isn’t perfectly non-toxic. Their formulas contain styrene/Acrylates copolymer, meaning they may pose a health risk related to residual styrene or contaminants. Other ingredients, such as benzophenone-1, also pose health risks and are included in my round-up of toxic chemicals in nail polish.
All in all, Kester Black are still only on this list (for now) because they are better than most in terms of their business practices. Still, if some sparkle is essential, you might just want to pay it safe(r) with Zoya and Keeki instead.
Kester Black nail polish ingredients
Comet contains the following ingredients (this may be subject to imminent update, so check the Kester Black website before buying):
Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer, Acetyl Tributyl Citrate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Acrylates Copolymer, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Silica, Benzophenone-1, N-Butyl Alcohol, Diacetone Alcohol, Trimethylpentanediyl Dibenzoate, Phosphoric Acid, Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate.
And may contain:
CI 15850 Red 7 Lake, CI 15850 RED 6 Lake, CI 77499 Black Iron Oxide, CI 77891 Titanium Dioxide, CI 15880 Red 34 Lake, CI 77163 Bismuth Oxychloride, CI 77491 Iron Oxide, CI 77510 Ferric Ferrocyanide, CI 19140 Yellow 5 Lake, CI 77000 Aluminum Powder, CI 60725 Violet 2, CI 47005 Yellow 10, CI 47000 Yellow 11, CI 42090 Bleu 1, CI 77007 Ultramarine Blue, CI 60730 Violet 2 EXT, CI 45410 Red 28, CI 45380 Red 22, Mica.
And finally, I can’t do a round-up of eco-friendly glitter products without mentioning one more brand.
Honorable Mention: Lush
Having grown up in the UK, I’m no stranger to Lush Ltd., a progressive UK company that has long led the way for safe, non-toxic and eco-friendly cosmetics and toiletries. While the company’s product range isn’t perfect, they have consistently offered cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, high quality and environmentally friendly products and do a heck of a lot to promote sustainability and other causes.
Lush switched out their microplastic a while ago, and are once again leading the way by replacing all the mica glitter in their products with eco-friendly synthetic mica.
As with most glitter products, Lush’s previous offerings contained either mica or plastic glitter made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a microplastic that all to easily escapes into waterways where it has a negative effect on seabirds, fish, and other organisms, including humans.
As of 2018, Lush began switching all their glitter products away from mica to a synthetic mica and mineral mixture and starched-based lusters. That’s because they could no longer confirm that their mica sources were free from child labor and other unethical practices.
Unlike BioGlitz, who use plant-based materials to make their biofilm and, from that, glitter, Lush replaced the mica in their products with fluorphlogopite (AKA synthetic mica). This allowed them to continue using the product to add sparkle to bath bombs, shower gels and cosmetics as before. This synthetic mica is better able to withstand heat than the biofilm-based eco-glitters, so is definitely the better option for anyone making their own bath bombs and such.
Unfortunately, Lush don’t seem to offer a stand-alone glitter, but they do offer a range of lovely products made with glitter!