Why You Should Think Twice Before Using Glittery Makeup

Music festivals, Halloween, and bachelorette parties all call for glitter galore. Many of us enjoy the shimmer and shine of a glittery eye shadow, lip gloss, or blush, but as glitter lovers know, those microscopic flecks can get in anywhere and everywhere — including your eye.

Experts at All About Vision caution that if you're using a glittery makeup product around the eyes, you run the risk of glitter pieces making their way directly into your eyeball. In some cases, this can affect the quality of your vision and lead to eye infections, blurred vision, a scratched cornea, or corneal ulcers.

The risk for eye damage is even higher if you're using an adhesive to stick generic glitter or craft glitter pieces onto your face (via All About Vision). Makeup glitter and craft glitter are cut differently and made with different materials. The sharp edges of craft glitter can cause tears within the eyes or on the surrounding skin — not to mention the fact that craft glitter is also often made with harmful chemicals. However, even if you exercise extreme caution while applying glitter, the health risks can go beyond a teary eyeball.

Glitter microplastics can end up in your body

While it's probably safe to assume you're not eating handfuls of glitter, you may still be ingesting it unknowingly. Washing your face after a day of donning your glittery look sends those glitter flecks spiraling down the drain, landing them in the environment — primarily in our water and soil (via Allure). Glitter that makes its way into the environment sticks around for quite some time. Associate professor of environmental engineering at Sakarya University in Turkey, Meral Yurtsever, tells Allure, "After a single use, thousands of [pieces of glitter] may pass into the waters or soil and accumulate in the environment [and] remain intact for centuries."

Doing a deep dive into the ingredients in cosmetic glitter, Allure inspected over 100 glitter makeup beauty products, and over 30% were found to contain microplastics, such as PET. Microplastics that make their way into our oceans are consumed by fish, and those fish eventually make their way into our bellies. Yurtsever cautions, "[Microplastic glitters] would certainly pose major hazards for living things." Chemist Sherri A. Mason elaborates, telling Allure that these health hazards include the development of cancer and negative impacts on reproductive health. While glitter may be the perfect accent to the perfect costume, before using it, you may want to consider where that glitter may ultimately end up.