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Face and Body Glitter: The Face Painting Glitter Guide

Glitter is a fun and exciting way to add sparkle to your face and body. It can be used for special occasions such as parties, festivals, holidays, or everyday wear if you like to sparkle all day long!

With so many different types of glitter available on the market, it can be hard to decide which one to choose. This face and body glitter guide will help you understand the different types of glitter available, how to apply them, how to remove them safely, and how to choose the best one for the occasion.

In this guide we will use the terms body glitter and face painting glitter often, both of them refer to the same product.

Types of Face and Body Glitter

Cosmetic Body Glitter

Cosmetic glitter is the only type of glitter that you should ever use as face painting glitter or body glitter. It is made from polyester or cellulose and it is made either with FDA-approved cosmetic pigments or the pigments are coated to prevent them from touching the skin. Keep in mind that as of right now (March 2023) in the USA the FDA does not have a definition of cosmetic glitter, so these standards are industry standards set for safety. Cosmetic glitter is available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes, making it easy to find the perfect match for your design. It is also lightweight, easy to apply, and can be removed easily with soap and water.

Before the days of chunky glitter, the industry standard for glitter for the body used to be a hexagon shape and a 0.008 size. Nowadays different standards are depending on if the glitter will be used near the eye or away from it. 

 Amerikan Body Art Fine Glitter Creme Swatches

Amerikan Body Art Fine Glitter Creme Swatches above using their .008 polyester glitter. 

Craft Glitter

Craft glitter is not recommended to be used as face painting glitter or as body glitter as it is made from materials that are not safe for use on the skin and it is very likely to cause skin irritation, cuts, and even damage to the eye. It is crucial to ensure that you are only using cosmetic glitter when it comes to face painting or beauty makeup.

Biodegradable Glitter

Biodegradable glitter, also known as bio glitters, is a new type of glitter that is becoming popular due to its eco-friendliness. It is made from natural plant-based materials that decompose quickly, reducing the impact on the environment. Biodegradable face painting glitter is safe for use on the skin so long it meets other industry standards in regards to pigments, shapes, and sizes, and it comes in a range of colors and sizes.

Be aware that not all biodegradable glitters are the same and they are not all mean as glitter for the body. The standards for what is considered "biodegradable" are very different from country to country and even within a country where there are no specific laws, the industry makes its standards and sometimes those standards can be a bit lax. Not all biodegradable glitter will simply decompose when in contact with water or in a landfill. Some need special conditions, temperatures, special decomposing equipment, etc. Read carefully before you buy it.

You can read more about bio glitters on our Ultimate Guide to Bio Glitters.

Superstar Bio Glitter Set

Super Star Bio Glitters are super sparkly!

Colors, Styles, Sizes, and Mixing Medium of Body Glitters

Body Glitter Colors

The color of glitter you choose depends on the design you are creating. If you are painting a butterfly, you may want to choose iridescent face painting glitter in pink and purple shades. If you are painting a monster, you may want to choose black or green glitter for the body or face. There are so many options available that you can find the perfect match for any design.

body glitter colors

Keep in mind that glitters also come in different styles and not just colors. The images above are Amerikan Body Art Fine Glitters

Body Glitter Styles

There are many different styles of face painting and body glitters. We have the iridescent kind that looks like it changes colors as we look at it from different angles due to how light reflects on them. Then we have the chromatic style that has a much stronger color change effect. There are matte glitters that don't change colors at all and are not reflective. Some glitters are also translucent (letting the light go through) while others are opaque.

styles of body glitter

If you plan to use glitter to enhance a design you might want to go with the translucent iridescent kind. If you are making glitter tattoos then choose opaque glitter. For body glitter, if what you are looking for is to add some shine to the body, then choosing ultra-fine iridescent translucent glitter might be the best option.


Face Painting Glitter and Glitter for the Body - Sizes

Face Painting Glitter or body glitter comes in different sizes, ranging from ultra-fine to chunky. Fine glitter is perfect for adding a subtle sparkle, while chunky glitter is great for creating a more dramatic effect. When choosing the size of glitter, consider the design you are creating, the effect you want to achieve, and the placement (never place chunky glitter in the immediate eye area). 

Body Glitter

Fine glitter is perfect to use as body glitter to enhance your skin appearance or for glitter tattoos, while chunky glitter is mostly used at music festivals or as a complement to face painting designs.

Mixing Medium Base for Face Painting Glitter

Body Glitter can be used on their own as loose glitter or be mixed in with different mixing mediums. Although the most common way in which body and face painting glitter is sold is as a loose powder, it is also available in a gel suspension (usually aloe vera) or in a wax or glycerin lip balm style base. Some glitter also comes mixed with body lotions and body or hair gels depending on the intended application.

different kinds of body glitter

Application Techniques for Face and Body Glitter

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is the most common technique used for applying glitter to face paint or over the body when used as body glitter or beauty makeup. Simply dip a dry brush into the glitter and tap off the excess. Then, gently brush the glitter onto the face paint or over the desired area of the body.

Gel Application

Gel application is a technique that involves mixing glitter with a clear gel, such as aloe vera gel, and applying it to the face with a brush or a small silicone spatula. Gel application is perfect for creating a more controlled and precise look and it is the perfect way to add face-painting glitter to your designs.

Festival Glitter Swatch by TAL

Wax/Balm Application

This is the newest trend in body glitter and it consists of pre-mixing your glitter with a wax or glycerin base to create a balm that can be spread over the face and body. This mix has the advantage that it won't make your makeup underneath run as a water-based gel would.

Amerikan Body Art Felicity Glitter Creme

See All of the Amerikan Body Art Glitter Cremes here . Erika Harrison created a beautiful variety of combos! 

Adhesive Application

The adhesive application involves applying a glitter adhesive to the skin before applying the glitter. The adhesive creates a stronger bond between the skin and the glitter, ensuring it stays in place for longer. This technique is perfect for creating glitter designs that need to last all day or even several days. The most common adhesive used is a medical-grade adhesive but there are some water and acrylate-based adhesives as well.

Removal Techniques for Face and Body Glitter

Soap and Water

The easiest and most common way to remove face paint glitter from the skin is to wash it off with soap and water. Simply wet the face or body with water, apply soap, and gently massage the skin. Rinse with water and repeat if necessary. Keep in mind that this works so long the glitter wasn't applied using a medical-grade adhesive. If you used an adhesive you will need rubbing alcohol to remove the glitter.

Some people try and use tissue paper first to remove the glitter and throw it in the trash to avoid glitter going down the drain.

Makeup Remover

If the body glitter is stubborn and won't come off with soap and water, you can use makeup remover, although that is very unlikely.

What Can I do with Face Painting Glitter or Body Glitter?

The possibilities are endless with glitter! We will discuss some options but get creative and have fun!

Face Painting

Glitter can be used to add a sparkle effect to any face painting design, either by sprinkling a thin layer of glitter over the design, by adding glitter gel details with a glitter gel applicator, by spreading chunky glitter around or over the design to make it stand out or by "painting" some areas of the design with fine loose opaque glitter.

Face Painting Glitter

Image courtesy of Raechelle Lee Herndon

Anna Wilinski with Festival Glitter

Anna Wilinski used Festival Glitter to brighten up this eye design!

Body Painting

If you want to go big then go ahead and try a body painting design made entirely out of glitter! This can be so much fun, but also time-consuming and a bit hard to remove, but the result is awesome!

 glitter body painting

Image courtesy of Sabine Gabrielle Vogel @Dutchglitterqueen

glitter body painting

Image courtesy of Sabine Gabrielle Vogel @Dutchglitterqueen

Beauty Makeup

Glitter has been used for ages to enhance makeup looks with a subtle shine. Ultra fine glitter can be spread all over the body along with a bronzer to add sparkles to the skin, or you can use fine glitter pressed eye shadows to create unique eye makeup looks. Think of Cher!

body glitter

Glitter Tattoos

Glitter Tattoos are a really popular glitter art form loved by kids and adults alike. You can read all about how to make glitter tattoos on our blog.

Face Painting Glitter

Image courtesy of Hanna Cordray

Fine Glitter for Glitter Tattoo Octopus
This little Octopus was made by Anna Wilinski with Art Factory Fine Glitter with a free hand brush in body glue. 
You can watch this video to learn how to do temporary glitter tattoos, they are super easy!

Festival Makeup

Last but not least is the festival makeup glitter look which has become super popular over the last few years with the introduction of chunky glitter. Simply spread some chunky glitter mix on the face in a cool way and you are done! Ravers and other festival goers love it and it is super simple!

Festival Gliter

Image courtesy of Hanna Cordray

Oceana wearing Festival Glitter on her face

Oceana wearing Festival Glitter on her face for a 4th of July Design

Body Glitter Q&A

What does Body Glitter Do?

Body Glitter is a mix of small polyester particles cut into different shapes and sizes that create a sparkle effect thanks to its iridescent coating and colorful pigments. Body Glitter will create a sparkling shiny look on the skin.

How do you get the glitter to stick to your body?

If the glitter is ultra-fine, body glitter will simply stick to your skin thanks to your skin's natural oils and static. Thicker glitter particles might need some form of mixing medium or adhesive, like gel or balm.

Is Body Glitter Different from normal glitter?

Body glitter is a cosmetic grade glitter different from craft glitter. Body glitter should be made from polyester with FDA-approved pigments or have the pigments coated with a protective film that will prevent the pigments from ever getting in contact with your skin. 

Do you need glue for body glitter?

No, you don't always need glue to apply body glitter. You can apply it directly on the skin if it is fine enough, over face paint, or mixed with some form of skin-safe gel or balm. You can apply it with glue depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Is craft glitter safe for the skin?

No, craft glitter is not safe for the skin and should be avoided at all costs. Craft glitter can damage the eye, and the skin, and even cause allergic reactions.

Is glitter harmful to the skin?

Cosmetic-grade glitter should not be harmful to the skin so long it is used as intended, but nothing is 100% allergy free so always test before you apply it in large quantities. When in doubt, ask your doctor.

Can you put body glitter on your eyes?

Body glitter might be put around the eye area so long you are using cosmetic grade glitters. It is always safer to use the 0.008 hex-cut glitters if you will apply them near the area as industry standards have determined for them to be the safest kind. Always polyester glitter.

Is glitter in lotion safe?

If the glitter is cosmetic grade and the lotion is not spread too close to the eye area, then yes, glitter in lotion should be safe. Some lotions may break down the glitter, or the glitter will liquify the lotion, so it best to have professionals combine these products for a long shelf life. 

Can humans digest glitter?

Glitter is made from polyester and it is not intended to be ingested. The only exception to that is baking glitter which is made from sugar and can be safely ingested if you are not allergic to any of its ingredients.

What are the ingredients in body glitter?

Body glitter should be made from polyester and pigments. Most cosmetic grade glitters contain Polyethylene Terephthalate, Polyurethane-33, Polymethyl Methacrylate, and pigments.

Art Factory Festival Glitter

Festival Glitter in a Gel Base

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