Mariah Carey made headlines last month after fans resurrected her 2001 flop album, “Glitter,” using the hashtag #JusticeForGlitter. Nearly 20 years after its release, the album reached no.1 on iTunes thanks to a viral campaign reinstating the forgotten gem. It got me thinking about the other kind of glitter — the powdery iridescent stuff often associated with toddlers or festivals and unicorns or festival unicorns. Like the soundtrack, the beauty staple has spent years laboring under a bad reputation. One that fails to acknowledge its current relevance.
My own relationship with glitter began at 16, when I came across a Vogue editorial featuring a beauty look called “Starlet post-temper tantrum.” She was a lonely young fashionista, full of emotions, adrift in a world that didn’t understand her. I felt seen. But as the melodrama of my adolescence evaporated, my love of glitter suffered the same fate as the album, “Glitter,” growing more deeply associated with a time of emotional upheaval, general confusion and some pretty questionable style choices. Consigned to the annals of millennial memory, its shimmer had worn off.
Recently it occurred to me that the joy of my first beauty products was inextricably linked to using makeup as a means to express my character. These products made me feel powerful rather than insecure. I used to slap on shimmer not to make my eyes bigger or my cheeks sharper but simply for the pleasure of putting fun on my face.
As a beauty product, glitter is about as democratic as they come. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. It doesn’t require Kardashian-level contouring or complicated strobing. It simply says, “Hey, I’m here for a good time, not a long time, let’s party!” On top of that, brands are starting to offer biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free options. But could glitter break free from the shackles of Coachella and kids’ birthday parties? I experimented with four different glitter looks to find out.
1. Under the Eyelids
This first look — my recreation of the post-tantrum starlet of yesteryear — is great for beginners. Just dab the glitter under the eye with your finger, making sure it’s denser on the lash line and more dispersed across the cheeks. (I used an old Sephora glitter I’ve had for years, but this eco-friendly gold glitter by Greenpoint Glitter is similar.) Team it with a lick of mascara and a pout that channels your teenage self.
2. Over the Eyelids
For the second look, I used “Cyan Skies” from EcoStardust’s Signature Blends Sample Pack. (EcoStardust is a UK-based green beauty fave.) I smeared a coating of “Cyan Skies” over a layer of Vaseline, although would recommend a more professional cosmetic fixing spray if you don’t want to feel like your lids are made of lead.
3. For Nails
Some of the glitter mixtures felt too chunky for everyday face-wear, so I created my own glitzy nail art. The how-to is simple:
– Add a layer of clear polish to your nails
– While the polish is still wet, sprinkle glitter liberally over each nail. I used “Unicorn” from EcoStardust’s Standard Sample Pack. (Despite the name…)
– Let it dry, then add a clear coat of polish on top to finish.
4. Over the Lips
Here, I swiped on a thick layer of Glossier lip gloss over Ruby Woo by MAC, and then dabbed EcoStardust’s “Berry Burst” shade (from the same sample pack) on top, then brushed away any loose particles.
For removal, I join Emma in worship of the oil cleansing method.
My favorite product overall was MAC’s reflective glitter, a fine white powder that glinted red in the light. Impossible to get a photo of, but a beautifully subtle way to add sparkle (as eyeshadow, but also across the shoulders, collarbone, cheeks…) and definitely one I’ll continue using past the festive season.
Some looks were more outré than others, but overall, the response was the same. Glitter makes shit fun. My face was sparklier, and so was my personality. I took myself less seriously. I literally had a twinkle in (or around) my eye. Glitter ranks 10/10 on the feel-good spectrum, something I noticed in my social interactions. It brings joy, rather than intimidation. While I’ll admit that glitter-encrusted lips might not be the most practical look, finding shiny flecks in my teeth was infinitely more cheering than the usual green tendrils. Whatever the weather, you can’t help but smile discovering a lone sparkle leftover from the night before.
In hard times, glitter brings the same levity as say, a ruffled pelmet, or a cherry print bandana. It’s not the end to all ills, but it does go some way to soothe the symptoms. I implore you to reconsider the forgotten classic. Dust it on yourself, dust it on your friends; have a temper tantrum! Like Mariah’s fans, all I want for Christmas is #JusticeForGlitter.
Photos via Georgia Graham.