You can now shine bright and responsibly
“Humans are inherently attracted to shine, it’s rooted in our primitive desire to seek out water,” say Saba Gray and Rebecca Richards - friends, entrepreneurs and founders of sustainable glitter company, BioGlitz. “This innate draw to sparkle explains glitter’s wide popularity.”
The BioGlitz story begins in New York when Gray and Richards met by sheer fate in a vintage shop. Their shared interests in sustainability and fashion – Richards was studying sustainable fashion at NYU while Gray was working at Manufacture New York, a sustainably focused, textile and design development hub – solidified their friendship. Then there was their shared love of glitter. On nights out the pair would fill their fanny packs with glitter to sprinkle on strangers on the dancefloor. “The more glitter we shared, the more we realised its power,” they say. “With the help of shine, people begin to let their guard down, open up, and allow themselves to live in the present moment.”
But there was a downside: standard commercial glitter is toxic and impossible to recycle making it detrimental to the environment and especially to ocean wildlife. After realising these dangers, Gray and Richards began to search for biodegradable alternatives. Cue BioGlitz, the sustainable plant-based glitter company they founded in 2015. Formed from hardwoods and FSC-certified eucalyptus cellulose, and coloured with cosmetic pigments, this biodegradable fairy dust is the perfect answer for those who want to shine responsibly.
Fast-forward to today and BioGlitz has showcased at Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and last year was named the glitter-provider for Forecastle Festival 2018 (the festival that banned undegradable glitter). On top of this, Gray and Richards have begun hosting Glitz Activations - immersive workshops aimed at spreading awareness of the damaging effects of microplastics and the need for an eco-friendly alternative. Well on their way to ensuring a sustainable future, we caught up with the duo about changing public perception and the all-encompassing power of glitter.
Bioglitz: We believe that, especially now more than ever, we need to come together and unapologetically shine our lights. As famous queer poet CA Conrad once wrote: "glitter is not enabling denial of the world's pain, but instead helps us endure the bleak results of those who are in denial of how we need one another." We see the power and inclusivity of glitter, how it subverts traditional beauty standards and blurs binary gender lines. With BioGlitz as our armour, we take up space, reject conformity, and choose to radically love ourselves and each other, while doing no harm to our planet.
What is the statement you want to make to the world with your eco-friendly glitter?
Bioglitz: Our mission is to raise environmental awareness and encourage fearless self-expression through spreading sustainable shine. Helping others feel more confident and beautiful through shine is so important to us because we believe sustainability goes beyond being eco-friendly, it includes being friendly to ourselves and each other. When people feel empowered, connected, joyful, and free, then true sustainability can be achieved.
The beauty industry is one of the biggest pollutants in the world. Why do you think glitter is an important stepping stone into more sustainable beauty overall?
Bioglitz: Glitter is one of the most dangerous materials used in the beauty industry. It is essentially a flattened micro-bead, a material banned in the US in 2015 for its detrimental effects on our environment. Glitter was able to fly under the radar of this ban and it is still used today in countless products - from cosmetics to textiles, toys, art supplies, and more.
It is no secret that our planet is currently suffering from extreme plastic pollution. Last year, it was estimated that around eight million metric tons of our plastic waste enter the oceans each year. Glitter is especially prone to entering our waterways because it is most often worn cosmetically and washed down drains after use, and just like microbeads, glitter particles are too small to effectively capture at waste treatment plants.
Most people we encounter admit they don’t think of glitter as a toxic micro-plastic. It’s vital to our planet’s health that we start conversations of how things are made, and luckily we have been able to do that through spreading our sustainable shine.
Sustainable stuff can look bland and boring… What would you say is the key to make a cool aesthetic that attracts customers to your brand?
Bioglitz: In addition to being entrepreneurs, we are artists, so creating an appealing aesthetic is the fun part for us. We work hard to show that sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing style or vibrancy. Sustainability is not a trend, it is a necessity out of respect for our earth. Our generation is already shifting focus from quantity to quality.
How did you find the perfect ingredients to use for your eco-glitter?
Bioglitz: There was definitely a lot of trial and error throughout our research and development process. We first tried working with bio-resins, then insect resins, synthetic mica, real mica, aga aga, kelp… we even tried working with Mango Materials amazing technology that produces a naturally occurring biopolymer from recycled waste biogas (methane). None of these produced a shine that lived up to our high standards. Eventually, we serendipitously found a genius manufacturer developing glitter from regenerated eucalyptus cellulose. It’s been a long journey to take the litter out of glitter, but one we have been so thrilled to make.
Does your glitter have a different texture or smell to glitter made from polyester?
Bioglitz: People are always amazed at how similar BioGlitz looks to traditional glitter. The biggest difference is in texture, weight, and friction. Because of its plant-based nature, BioGlitz is much softer to the touch than regular polyester glitter. It is also much lighter, making it very pleasant to wear all day and night (which we often do).
Also, because there are no metalloids in our Glitz, there is no friction. Many don’t believe us when we say glitter is no longer the herpes of the craft world… but it’s true! Glitz washes off and cleans up easily. BioGlitz does not break down unless it is exposed to sunlight, moisture, and oxygen because microbes thrive in that environment. So as long as you leave your Glitz in their jars, it will not expire!
What’s the biggest misconception about sustainability in beauty?
Bioglitz: As consumers have started to demand more sustainable products, many beauty companies have responded by putting buzzwords such as “natural”, “organic”, or “eco-friendly” on their labels, without really changing their formulas, packaging, or supply chain. We have even seen plastic glitter companies label their product as “vegan”, which of course, plastic is technically not an animal product.
This type of greenwashing is extremely unfortunate, as it creates so much confusion around what products to trust. It hurts the small companies that work so hard to be truly sustainable. While it is almost an impossible task to decipher what products actually do no harm to our planet, versus the ones that simply claim not to for marketing purposes, we urge all curious and caring consumers to dig deeper into the companies they support, ask questions, and never trust sustainability claims at face value.
Will you be expanding from glitter to create other more eco-friendly products?
Bioglitz: Yes! We are currently working on expanding our Glitz product line with our new collection launching this spring.