model wearing silver glitter makeup on her cheeks and forehead

Shimmering Through Time: The History of Glitter in Makeup

When it comes to makeup, glitter is the ultimate tool for adding a touch of sparkle and glamour. Whether you're going for a subtle shimmer or an all-out dazzling look, glitter has been a go-to ingredient in the beauty industry for decades. But have you ever wondered how this magical, light-reflecting substance made its way into our cosmetics? Let's take a journey through time and explore the fascinating history of glitter in makeup.



Ancient Beginnings

Believe it or not, the use of glitter in cosmetics dates back thousands of years. In ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, people crushed minerals and gemstones like malachite, lapis lazuli, and mica to create powders with a shimmering effect. These early forms of glitter were applied to the eyes, lips, and skin, not only for cosmetic purposes but also for cultural and spiritual significance. Glittering eyes, in particular, were believed to ward off evil spirits and protect the wearer.


The Renaissance Sparkle

During the Renaissance period, glitter in makeup saw a resurgence in popularity. European noblewomen were known to use crushed beetle wings to add a glistening touch to their faces. The iridescent quality of these insects' wings provided a unique and captivating shimmer that was highly sought after. However, the use of beetle-based glitter was not without controversy, as it led to the decline of certain beetle populations in the 17th century.

The Birth of Modern Glitter

The 20th century marked a significant turning point in the history of glitter in makeup. In 1934, Henry Ruschmann, an American machinist, accidentally invented what we now know as modern glitter. He developed a machine capable of cutting plastic sheets into small, uniform pieces. This invention revolutionized the glitter industry, making it more accessible and affordable for cosmetic use.

Soon after, the cosmetic industry embraced glitter wholeheartedly. Companies started producing eyeshadows, lipsticks, and nail polishes infused with glitter, catering to the growing demand for sparkling beauty products. Glitter makeup became synonymous with glamour and was a staple of the disco era in the 1970s, famously worn by icons like David Bowie and Cher.


Glitter Today

Today, glitter is more versatile than ever, available in various forms, including loose pigments, pressed powders, and gel-based products. It's no longer limited to traditional shades of silver and gold; it comes in a dazzling array of colors and textures, from holographic to matte glitter. Makeup artists and enthusiasts alike continue to push the boundaries of creativity, using glitter to craft unique and avant-garde looks.

However, it's essential to note that the environmental impact of glitter, particularly microplastic glitter, has come under scrutiny. Microplastics, including those found in some glitter products, can harm marine life and pollute our oceans. In response, many makeup brands have started to develop biodegradable and eco-friendly glitter alternatives, contributing to a more sustainable future for the beauty industry. Medusa's Makeup offers vegan, cruelty free glitters that are biodegradable, so you can sparkle without the guilt. Some of our favorites include AK-47, Gold Digger, and Space Cadet. There are several finishes, such as iridescent, shimmery, and even holographic! Check out our Glittergasm Chunky Glitter if you prefer a more noticeable sparkle for festivals and events. Don't forget The Fix for all your glitter adhesive needs!


The history of glitter in makeup is a story of artistry, innovation, and a little bit of magic. From its ancient origins to the glittering runways of today, it has evolved into a symbol of self-expression and glamour. As we continue to cherish its dazzling allure, it's important to embrace eco-friendly alternatives and make responsible choices in our pursuit of sparkle and shimmer. After all, makeup should not only enhance our beauty but also reflect our commitment to a brighter and more sustainable future.

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