Diamonds vs Glitter
When we set out to create Messier 71 Diamond Enhanced Hair Gel, we wanted to create the ultimate line of gemstone-enhanced sparkly hair products. We wanted to make stuff that leaves your hair feeling amazing, that doesn’t clump up and make you look like a member of an early 2000s boy band, to give you a sparkly you can be proud of. We also wanted our product to be eco-friendly and for our company to be conscientious of its impact on the world. In part, that is why we chose to use diamonds (the other reason is their diamonds!) But we didn’t want our sparkly hair products to be guilty of greenwashing. So, we will be sharing some of the research that went into making our products in a series of blog posts, starting with this one.
Why We Don’t Use Glitter
The little sparkly bits in glitter are usually tiny sheets of plastic (commonly referred to as microplastic) coated in aluminum or some other reflective material. In 2019, a paper from the Marine Pollution Bulletin found glitter to be a significant source of the plastic found in the world’s oceans. When this plastic washes into the ocean, it can be ingested by sea life and cause damage to their digestive systems.
One of the reasons microplastics are particularly problematic is that they are difficult to capture and properly dispose of. Plastic bottles can be collected for recycling, and filters can catch straws. Microplastics are small enough to pass through most filters, and it’s hard to removed glitter without just washing it off in the shower.
Biodegradable plastics are better but still not great. They certainly degreed faster than regular plastics, but often they are engineered with industrial composting in mind and may not degrade in naturally occurring conditions. This can be an excellent option for items that are easy to collect, such as water bottles and clothing, but glitter is hard to catch, so bio-glitters are often not treated properly. This is why we avoid plastic glitters altogether and instead use diamonds and a few other minerals to give you a sparkle you can feel good about.
Diamonds are the primary ingredient we use to give Messier 71 its sparkle. We use cosmetic diamond powder to give our products that shimmering effect and diamonds best provide that starlight twinkle unique to Messier 71.
When discussing the environmental impact of diamonds after they have been sourced, their effect after use is negligible. Diamonds are extremely unreactive and sink to the bottom of any body of water. When you wash the diamonds out of your shimmery hair after a great night out, what flows down the drain is sand; beautiful and fancy sand, but sand nonetheless.
The negative environmental impacts of diamonds come from how the diamonds are sourced. Diamond mining has historically resulted in the destruction of large swathes of habitat and watershed pollution. This is to say nothing of the social cost diamond mining has had. Diamonds are easy to distribute illegally, so separating mines with human rights violations from those without can be difficult.
For these reasons, ZXI Style carefully tracks and researches its diamond supply chain. Currently, we use cosmetic diamond powder, which we source from a synthetic diamond manufacturer in Canada. Synthetic diamond production avoids many of the environmental shortfalls of diamond mining, but it does tend to have a larger carbon dioxide footprint than diamond mining; the difference in carbon dioxide largely depends upon how much renewable energy is used to create the diamonds. At ZXI Style, we keep looking for better sources for our diamonds; we might have some exciting news about a new diamond provider soon.
To round out Messier 71’s glisten, we add mica, which has recently become the gold standard for eco-friendly glitter replacements. Mica has many of the same advantages and pitfalls as diamonds. It is chemically inert and has been deemed safe as a food additive by the FDA. However, it is a mineral mined from the earth, and many environmental problems arise from its extraction. Most mica is also mined in countries with less than glamorous human rights and environmental responsibility records.
The mica we use in our products is mined in the United States. This allows us to keep a closer eye on the production of the mica. Still, we are always looking for ways to build the best company we can. As of now, we are looking at switching to synthetically produced mica which has an even smaller environmental footprint.
I want to conclude this blog post by emphasizing that ZXI Style is dedicated to continuously making its products the best they can. New environmental threats are being uncovered daily, but new ways to have a positive effect are also being discovered. To be the best we can be, we must continuously improve our products and business. We got into this business because we love new challenges (and having sparkly hair). Just because we are fabulous today doesn’t mean we can’t be more fabulous tomorrow.
If you found something that slipped our notice, please email us and let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Yurtsever, Meral. “Tiny, Shiny, and Colorful Microplastics: Are Regular Glitters a Significant Source of Microplastics?” Marine Pollution Bulletin 146 (2019): 678–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.07.009.
 Delgado, Carla. “Yes, Glitter Really Is Bad for the Environment.” Discover Magazine. Discover Magazine, March 11, 2022. https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/yes-glitter-really-is-bad-for-the-environment.
 Ziajahromi, Shima, Peta A. Neale, Llew Rintoul, and Frederic D.L. Leusch. “Wastewater Treatment Plants as a Pathway for Microplastics: Development of a New Approach to Sample Wastewater-Based Microplastics.” Water Research 112 (2017): 93–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2017.01.042.
 “Frequently Asked Questions about Plastic Recycling and Composting.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, September 20, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/frequently-asked-questions-about-plastic-recycling-and-composting.
 Butcher, Amanda. “Is Growing Diamonds a Sustainable Alternative to Diamond Mining? – IGS.” International Gem Society. International Gem Society, October 5, 2021. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/sustainable-alternative-to-diamond-mining/.
 Lord, Rick, Jacqueline Jackson, Miriam Robes, Gautham P, Rochelle March, David McNeil, Byford Tsang, and Chaitra Nayak. “The Socioeconomic and Environmental Impact of Large-Scale Diamond Mining .” S&P Global, May 2019. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/documents/the-socioeconomic-and-environmental-impact-of-large-scale-diamond-mining_dpa_02-may-2019.pdf.
 Anstoetter, Mark D., and Madeleine M. McDonough. “FDA Issues Final Rule on Mica-Based Pearlescent Pigments in Distilled Spirits.” Lexology. Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, October 2, 2015. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=815b3558-9ba1-4645-87de-5a917f411f1a#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20Food%20and%20Drug,in%20many%20foods%20and%20beverages%2C.
 “Micas.” Earth Sciences Museum, February 10, 2022. https://uwaterloo.ca/earth-sciences-museum/resources/detailed-rocks-and-minerals-articles/micas#:~:text=The%20world’s%20chief%20deposits%20of,used%20in%20two%20different%20ways.
 Cathy. “Synthetic Mica vs Natural Mica – Natural and Fluorphlogopite Mica Comparison.” YUNZE MINERAL, April 1, 2022. https://www.miningvalleys.com/synthetic-mica-vs-natural-mica/.