A new crop of skin-care products promising to give the skin a glimmer — thanks to real flecks of glitter — have recently popped up, and honestly, I'm a little disconcerted. The new launches, face masks made for hydrating and firming skin, are infused with hefty chunks of the shimmery, light-reflecting particles made famous in elementary school art class — but for what reason? Sure, they're neat and marketable as hell (/#Instabait). But, the real question is: Are they practical? In the words of American Idol judge Randy Jackson, "It's going to be a no from me, dawg."
Listen, I like glitter as much as the next person (actually, this might not be true. Glitter is sticky and leaves a shimmery mess in its wake. Honestly, it's kind of annoying.), but was there such a need in the market that we had to go and add it to skin care? And is there any real benefit of slathering on the sparkly stuff? Concerned (and slightly annoyed, TBH), I asked Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, to weigh in on whether or not skin care made with glitter is the real deal or just for the 'gram.
"To my knowledge, glitter does not have any medical effect on the skin," he tells Allure. "It does, however, provide a cosmetic benefit and is commonly used in skin-care products for children, as kids are more likely to use the product." A-ha! So other than a sensory experience, there's no real reason to slather on the sparkle-mixed mask. In fact, there's an argument for avoiding it completely.
Although glitter is technically not approved by the FDA, shimmer-infused products are generally safe for the skin, says Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and associate clinical professor, department of dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But, she notes, there's still a risk of irritation with every use — especially for those with sensitive skin. "Glitter-containing products are likely safe, but as with any new product, if redness, burning, or stinging develops into the product, wash it off immediately, as you may be sensitive to it," says Tanzi. "Smaller glitter pieces are worse because they can be irritating to the skin (more sharp edges) and an irritant dermatitis can develop."
And don't even get me started on glitter's effect on the environment. Because the glimmery bits are considered microplastics (plastic pieces smaller than 5mm), they can "easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean and Great Lakes," according to the National Ocean Service. Meaning, major shimmery mess that could potentially lead to pollution in our water ways. (Yeah, you can see why I'm not a fan.)
Sure, I'm probably being dramatic about all of this (they're just glitter masks, after all), but hey, this is the free beauty world, and I'm entitled to my opinion, man. And my opinion is that I like my skin care sans sparkle, thank you very much.
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