This much is true: Glossier is an incredible business, and a beacon of millennial ambition. Founder and CEO Emily Weiss built it from scratch, starting with her blog Into the Gloss and then using that blog to crowd-source what products her readers wanted. It’s genius, and it’s clearly working—the five-year-old company is currently valued at $390 million, and they hit $100 million in sales every year.
But, in spite of their super Instagrammable products and cult following, it’s not perfect, and Glossier has made some missteps, the latest of which, in our opinion, involves the launch of their new line, Glossier Play. The new offshoot of the OG brand includes four products: Vinylic Lip, a high-shine lip gloss, Colorslide, a gel eyeliner, Niteshine, a liquid highlighter, and Glitter Gelée, a multi-purpose glitter gel. The whole collection is meant to be “dialled-up beauty extras,” and it’s the first time Glossier has deviated from their more neutral “no-makeup” beauty staples.
Admittedly, the products are super pretty and a ton of fun. But, the Glitter Gelée is getting lots of flack online, and for good reason. The product’s packaging directions instruct: “To remove, use a cotton pad and Milky Oil [one of Glossier’s cleansing products]. Avoid washing off with water to prevent getting glitter into the waterways.” If you’re not sure why rinsing your sparkly prods down the drain is a no-no, it’s because glitter is a hugely polluting ingredient. It’s a microplastic, or a plastic that’s less than 5 mm in diameter, and in 2014, it was estimated that there are between 15 and 51 trillion pieces of microplastics in the oceans.
So here’s the big Q: Why is a brand that targets woke millennials who want BS-free products making something that’s so blatantly polluting? Those removal instructions make it clear that Glossier is well aware of the microplastics situation, but instead of creating a more environmentally friendly product with biodegradable ingredients, they chose to place the responsibility on the consumer to keep it out of the waterways. And, FYI, that won’t work. Runoff from landfills, which is where those Glitter Gelée-soaked pads will end up, pulls whatever it can carry, including microplastics, into the (surprise) waterways.
And those consumers aren’t happy. After posting an image of the Glitter Gelée on Instagram on March 4, when Glossier Play launched, hundreds of comments poured in, asking the brand why the glitter isn’t biodegradable.
If all that isn’t enough, lots of people are also noticing that Glitter Gelée looks a heck of a lot like existing products from other brands, such as Wunder2’s Glitter Gelly, and the Glossier Play campaign imagery looks a heck of a lot like Pat McGrath’s. So, not only are these products bad for the earth, they’re not even really that original, which is extra disappointing from a company that has, until now, really been changing the way we think about shopping for makeup.
For a company like Glossier, where customer feedback reigns supreme, we’re curious to see if they officially respond to the call-outs and explain why non-biodegradable glitter was used in the Glitter Gelée. And, if not, it can at least serve as a reminder for all of us that if you want to avoid adding to the literal tonnes of garbage we trash the earth with every year, quit non-biodegradable glitter for good.