Festival season is nearly upon us and many music lovers will be looking to make up for almost two years of lockdowns and cancelled events. Whether you’re attending one of the huge music festivals or are looking forwards to an outdoors weekend of family fun at a child-friendly festival, we're hoping you’re going to take full advantage of the opportunity to dress up. I've just got back from Elderflower Fields festival and it was so lovely to be part of a big celebration again.
Festivals have become a boho fashion parade that has one major difference from other style events - it does not take itself seriously AT ALL! Joy is the principal pursuit and although you’ll find a huge variety of fantastical and ethereal costumes, as well as many people going for the more down-to-earth denim shorts and t-shirts, glitter, jewels and face paint will be a common feature.
A feast of joy and optimism, festivals exhibit glitter, colour and sparkle the way peacocks display their eye-catching feathers and there’s no room for subtlety. Yet, whilst we celebrate spending time in nature, the planet might not be so grateful.
Many of the face and body art we commonly use at festivals is not eco-friendly. Toxic face paints are not only harmful to the planet when washed off, but they can also be harmful to our skin. You may also not be aware that glitter, though admittedly not a totally natural-looking product, is usually little more than tiny pieces of plastic and stick-on jewels are simply larger pieces of plastic.
Although it's wildly unfair to claim that wearing a little glitter a few times a year is a crime against nature, when we consider how many people use these products the impact becomes a lot larger and the reality is, that the change begins with individuals. The good news is you don’t have to forgo the colour and sparkle. There are some great eco-friendly glitter and face paint options and your favourite all-natural handmade skincare brand is here to share with you our favourite planet-friendly, plastic-free festival face paint and eco-friendly glitter.
Is Face Paint Toxic?
Toxic is not a word you want to hear concerning something you put on your face, let alone on your child’s face. It’s awakening to realise that those of us who are constantly nagging the kids to wash their hands, who count up to check they’ve had their five-a-day at the end of each day, who cook from scratch to give them the best start, might, a few times a year, watch unaware as something toxic is applied to our children’s skin. Most parents would be shocked at how toxic face paints can be. Far more so than most make-up. Often containing high levels of lead, formaldehyde, mercury and parabens, it’s shocking that it’s even allowed to be sold. Apart from the potential health risks face paints might carry, it’s worth remembering that we wash this paint off, straight into our water system.
And it’s not just children who use face paint, especially at festivals. In many ways, facepaint is easier than other forms of dress-up. It washes off, it’s adaptable, it’s fun to apply and there’s less physical waste. However, we’re coming to realise that it’s the waste we don’t always see that has some of the most harmful effects. Especially as its invisibility makes it easier for it to enter our oceans and, ultimately, our food supply.
Natural Earth Face Paints
You can make your own face paints but that’s not always practical at festivals. Plus, sometimes homemade can mean more waste, especially for products you’re not using on a very regular basis. So, our favourite alternative to toxic face paints (and pretty much the only available alternative) is Earth Paints.
I was first introduced to Earth Paints through an eco-friendly children’s art kit. There was something gorgeously nostalgic about mixing the powder with water to create the paint and I was an immediate fan. So I was thrilled to discover that earth paint also comes in face paint format. No mixing is required for Earth Face Paints and they come in handy easily-transportable pots made from recycled plastic.
Earth Paint is made from natural organic ingredients and mineral pigments to create colour not only inspired by but created by nature. Colours remain bold and beautiful and although Earth Paint sounds like a type, it’s actually a company. Natural Earth Paint was established in the US and is focused on creating and supplying non-toxic paint kits for adults and children.
Although there are a few other names that crop up when looking for non-toxic paints, many don’t serve the UK. Therefore, Natural Earth Paints currently provide the best natural children’s face paints. To be fair though, they deserve the accolade regardless of the lack of competition - with recycled packaging, toxic-free products and ethically sourced ingredients and a 100% solar-powered factory, they are ticking boxes all over the place!
Usually, I make it a point not to endorse other brands since it’s difficult to know how true their credentials are, but for the love of the planet consider Earth Paint Face Paints when designing your face and body art for this festival season.
Is Glitter Bad For The Environment?
I have to confess, this one snuck up on me. I consider myself a curious person - hey, that’s what lead me to spend years perfecting recipes for all-natural homemade skincare. Yet, it never occurred to me that glitter was essentially plastic. Even when people started talking about it I wasn’t sure it was the big issue it was being made out to be. It’s not used all that much anyway and it’s tiny pieces, right? I don’t suppose I wanted to consider that it might be toxic, being that my friends and I have fallen asleep with glitter-coated faces on multiple occasions, particularly in our 'youthier' youth. However, the more I read about microplastics the more I realised that the glitter had to go.
Why are microplastics potentially more dangerous than other plastic waste? Because, if you were eating a chunk of a plastic bottle or finding cling film in your drink you’d probably notice, but we don’t notice thousands of pieces of plastic, invisible to the human eye, that enter our water and food system every day. The advantage of larger plastic items, in that they take so long to break down, is it gives us time to collect and deal with them. When the pieces become too small there’s little we can do and glitter is already sold in this form. Microplastics have even been found in the rain and Australia's National Science Agency found that 9.25m to 15.87 million tons of microplastics are embedded on the seafloor. Of course, glitter makes up a tiny percentage of the plastic problem overall, but the point is that it’s a totally avoidable one. Whilst science focuses on how we can safely replace the plastic materials used to keep certain products and medical equipment sanitary, glitter is a plastic we can stop producing today. Of course, manufacturers will not stop making it unless we stop buying it. So, to sparkle this summer on the festival scene, what is the eco-friendly alternative to glitter?
Best Biodegradable Eco-Friendly Glitter
The good news here is that we asked the market and the market responded. There are plenty of biodegradable glitter products to choose from. Naturally, some are more eco-friendly than others so do read the small print. Be wary of the following claims, that aren't as eco-friendly as they sound:
Compostable glitter - Biodegradable and compostable are not the same thing. To decompose, compostable products need specific conditions. Glitter is unlikely to end up in compost since, most often, it’s washed away when we shower or remove our makeup.
Cellophane Glitter - Again, not biodegradable. Though arguably better than plastic in most forms, cellophane still presents a whole range of issues for the environment to deal with. We’re all for forgiving the ‘not-yet perfect’ in a search to find something better, but cellophane doesn’t come anywhere near good enough for our planet, in our opinion.
When selecting a biodegradable eco-friendly glitter, ensure your product is 100% plastic-free and can decompose in the natural environment. That’s a clause to look out for because no one is going to pick up pinpoint pieces of glitter and head to a compostable plant.
Got a biodegradable glitter you love? Share it with us at @oliveandjoyce
Top Tip For Removing Glitter And Face Paint
The best way to remove face paint and glitter is with oil. Face oil of course, not cooking oil (important to specify). Ideally Olive & Joyce oil cleanser or else avocado oil or canola oil.
Face oil breaks down oils in the paint and so takes every trace of the paint off and helps to unstick glitter. Removing your face paint and glitter with this will also feed the skin as face paint and glitter dries the skin out.
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