Glitter is a timeless craft craze that knows no age limit or season. If you’re here, chances are that you’re looking for glitter to add sparkle and shine to a project, but the thousands of glitter names out there have you all confused.
The best type of glitter o use is relative to the expected effect and intended craft project. The best kind of glitter for body art differs from the ideal for school projects.
So, what are the different types of glitter? There are many different types of glitter depending on the use, including decorative craft glitter, skin-safe body glitter, and edible glitter. Within these types are subcategories organized by effect, cut, and size.
The charm of glitter differs by type, and the smartest way to choose the best glitter for your own project is to familiarize yourself with the varieties available, their appearance, and what they are best used for.
And well, it seems you are in luck because that is precisely what this post is all about. Keep reading to learn more.
How Many Different Types Of Glitter Are There?
There are a ton of glitter varieties. However, all these are put in three bold categories; craft glitter, polyester glitter, and cosmetic grade glitter.
Glitter can also be classified by its shimmer or interaction with light, cut, and particle size. Let’s go over them one by one.
If you ever participated in a school project or a DIY craft at home that involved glitter, chances are it was craft glitter. This type of glitter is super affordable and a go-to for many indoor projects.
Craft glitter is made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), which makes it very cheap. However, it is not very durable when exposed to UV rays, water, and solvents.
These elements deteriorate the shimmery coating that makes it glitter. Ideally, it should be used for indoor applications and stuff that will not come into long-term contact with the sun, water, or chemicals.
It is ideal for paper crafts, non-washable costumes, masks, and shoes, party decorations, house decor, Christmas ornaments, theater props, indoor signage, window display, and children’s craft kits, among other uses.
You may still choose to use it outdoors, perhaps for a temporary thing. Just don’t expect the shine to last more than a few weeks.
Craft glitter comes in a wide range of sizes, from chunky flakes to super fine dust. It is also available in many forms. There are geometric shapes like hexagons as well as stars, hearts, and other fun shapes.
It is a budget-friendly type of glitter and an excellent option for when you need it in bulk to fill up spaces.
Polyester glitter is a more expensive type of glitter but worth paying extra for if you want permanent glam. Unlike craft glitter, polyester glitter is resilient and versatile.
This type of glitter, as the name suggests, is manufactured from polyester or PET (polyethylene terephthalate). That’s poly plastics in layman’s terms.
In some instances, the PET is metalized with aluminum.
PET is one of the toughest materials on earth, which makes this type of glitter very durable. It doesn’t deteriorate quickly, even after an extended encounter with harsh conditions.
This glitter doesn’t fade when exposed to UV light or rain, making it perfect for outdoor applications. It can also be used on anything that regularly contacts water.
In addition, polyester glitter is non-reactive to solvents. Therefore you can mix it into just about anything.
Some popular uses include resin, laminate, and fiberglass applications. It is sealed into jewelry, floors, walls, vanity tops, counters, tabletops, toys, boats, fun fair rides, etc, to give them a sparkly effect.
Nail polish, crayons, paint, and ink manufacturers also incorporate this type of glitter into their constituent mixture of their glitter line of products.
It is this same glitter that you see bonded to clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories like belts. Glittery fishing lures, festive decorations, ceramics, outdoor signs, and displays, among unlimited other things, are made using polyester glitter.
Polyester glitter may be expensive but has a long-lasting shine and is available in an array of colors, effects, and sizes. If you don’t mind splurging a little more on glitter that will keep your projects looking glamorous for years, it’s the glitter for you.
Cosmetic Grade Glitter
You are probably familiar with glittery beauty products such as lip glosses, eyeshadow, highlighters, shimmery body sprays, lotions, etc. These products are formulated using cosmetic-grade glitter, a form of polyester glitter.
This glitter is certified as safe to use on the skin by FDA, having undergone testing. Everything from the plastic material to the colorants used is nontoxic and non-irritating.
The particles are as fine as dust, but we also have chunky options.
Cosmetic grade glitter has a circular cut that is non-abrasive. The shape is purposely rounded to keep the edge soft and free of corners that could scratch the dermis or even sensitive places like the cornea of the eyes.
And you know how messy glitter is and get everywhere. If it accidentally comes into contact with your mouth, eyes, or even sweat, there’ll be no cause for alarm. Nothing toxic will leech into your skin or harm your stomach.
Initially, ultra-fine polyester glitter would be used for this purpose. You can still use it too; it is not deemed unsafe for the purpose as long as it is stated for facial or body art.
But if you are prioritizing safety assurance, cosmetic grade glitter is the best option.
Craft glitter, on the other hand, must never be used in place of cosmetic glitter, whether mixing it in personal care products, make-up, body art, face painting, or other skin applications.
The following chart summarizes the difference between craft glitter and polyester glitter.
|Features||Craft Glitter||Polyester Glitter||Cosmetic Grade Glitter|
|Material||PVC plastic||PET plastic, aluminum||Certified nontoxic PET (polyester and acrylic)|
|Cut||All cuts||All cuts||Round cut|
|Durability||Fades with time due to exposure to environmental elements||Lasts long as solvents and UV light exposure do not affect them||Lasts long as solvents and UV light exposure do not affect them|
|Application||Good for indoor, short-term crafts||Good for outdoor, long-term crafts||Facial and body applications|
It is worth noting that not all glitter is made of plastic. There are a few biodegradable options manufactured from cellulose and other eco-friendly materials.
Unfortunately, these are not accessible to many crafters due to their scarcity and extremely high price.
Types Of Glitter By Effects
If you’ve noticed, different glitter items don’t twinkle the same. The sparkle can be subtle or brilliant, single or multi-colored, shifting color across angles or similar from all points of view, and so on.
This diversity creates a whole lot of glitter types that are classified by effect. You’ll come across complex names like holographic, iridescent, and opalescent when sampling glitter for purchase.
It’s nothing to be intimidated about. That is just how the light travels on that particular type of glitter. We will spell out each one for you.
- Opaque Glitter – This type of glitter has an opaque surface and does not allow light through its particles. Consequently, it reflects the full spectrum of light, making it the sparkliest type of glitter.
- Translucent Glitter – Also known as semi-opaque, translucent glitter is the type of glitter that only reflects partial light and lets some of it through its flakes. Therefore it is less flashy than opaque glitter and exhibits a softer soothing sparkle.
- Matte Glitter – Matte glitter is a type of glitter with a satin finish rather than the glossy look of most glitter. It has a barely there, almost non-existent glimmer but is brightly colored with a subtle sheen.
- Holographic Glitter – If glitter types were to hold a glam contest, holographic glitter would certainly emerge at the top. This glitter has a dazzling colorful shine. Holographic glitter is opaque with an ultra-thin aluminum film that diffuses light landing on its surface into a spectrum of colors.
- The reflection can be anything from two tones to an entire rainbow. It works like a prism splitting light landing on its surface into individual colors. This type of glitter is among the most spectacular and can be used on any project you want to glamorize.
- Metallic Glitter – When you hear metallic glitter, your first thought is likely that this glitter is made of metals, but that’s not the case. Metallic glitter adopted its name from its appearance.
- It is opaque glitter with a consistent, reflective, mirror-like shine similar to shiny polished metal. It is a single-color flake kind of glitter. There’s no dramatic switch of colors; just a dazzling beautiful shine from light reflection over its vibrant metallic-colored surface.
- Metallic glitter is the default type of glitter used for body art and thus is sold as a fine powder. There are several colors to choose from, including gold, rose gold, silver, chrome, copper, bronze, blue, and green.
- Iridescent Glitter – Iridescent glitter is a semi-opaque glitter with a gentle sparkle and a pearlescent shine. This means that light partially goes through the specks and partially refracts in a splay of colors. It is not as striking and flamboyant as the holographic glitter and metallic glitter, but has its own charm.
- The core is made with micro-layers of plastic placed at alternating angles such that the light refracts on itself. But because this type of glitter is translucent or semi-opaque, the sparkle is not as brilliant as holographic or metallic glitter.
- The color display is softer too. Iridescent glitter can have a 2-3 color maximum rainbow effect, a milky rainbow effect, or a pearl-like effect. Rainbow iridescent glitter will reflect a rainbow of colors with a gentle color shift.
- Opalescent iridescent glitter, on the other hand, has an iridescent reflection with a milky haze. The colors are laced with white reflections resembling an oil slick.
- Pearl iridescent glitter is the least sparkly. It has a matte surface with a pale iridescent shimmer of not more than three pastel colors.
- Color Shift/Chameleon Glitter – Color-shifting glitter is double-toned glitter that displays one color at a time and switches to another when the glitter tilts. Unlike other types of glitter, the different colors do not emanate from the shine of the glitter. Rather, these specks reflect a new color only when you switch the angle of view.
- Neon/Fluorescent Glitter – This type of glitter has a matte surface and lacks the gleam of reflective glitter. But even without a high sparkle, neon glitter draws attention to itself with its super brilliant neon/fluorescent pigments that exhibit striking vividness.
- UV Glitter – UV glitter may also be referred to as blacklight reactive glitter. That means the glitter requires charging under UV light to activate the magic. The glow reveals itself when the glitter is brought under a black or fluorescent light.
- Under normal light, this glitter may be invisible, matte, or brightly colored but without a sparkle. It can also be a single color or color changing. Because they glow mainly in the dark under a special light, UV glitter is popularly used in dark or dimly lit spaces.
- You can witness its luminous magic in signage, decorations, costumes, and hair and body art during night parties, festivals and celebrations. It is also used to craft night decor in homes like bedroom wall decals.
Glitter By Size And Cuts
Aside from learning about the different types of glitters, you should also be knowledgeable about the available sizes and cuts. This information helps you find glitter that is both aesthetic and functional for your purpose.
A good example is when making confetti. You wouldn’t want dust-sized particles, would you? Contrarily, chunky glitter wouldn’t sit well in eyeshadows.
The particle size of glitter can range from powder to jumbo flakes. Usually, the outer dimensions measured in mm, inches, and sometimes microns determine the size of glitter.
There are universal names for the various sizes too, but some brands have custom names and sizes. The following glitter size chart shows you the most popular sizes, though several other dimensions exist in the same family.
|Size name||Inches||Fraction of an inch||Millimeters||Microns|
- Microfine Glitter – This is the finest glitter, with a speck size of 0.004 inches. It is in a powdery state and used in a wide variety of applications. However, it is prevalent in cosmetics like lip gloss, eyeshadows, body shimmer, and lotions.
- Ultra Fine Glitter – Ultra fine glitter also comes in a powder with micro specks measuring only 0.008 inches. It is used in cardstock crafts, nail polish, lotions, gels, paints, resin art, jewelry making, tumblers, wine glass decor, candles, soaps, bath bombs, and silk screen printing on clothing, painting art, among other crafts.
- Fine Glitter – Under fine glitter is a range of sizes, including fine, very fine, and extra fine glitter. The particles vary in size from 0.015″ to 0.040″. Fine glitter is the most popular glitter for arts and crafts at home and in school projects. This glitter size also constitutes the chunky mix glitter.
- Medium Glitter – Medium glitter, sometimes called chunky glitter, has a flake size of 0.062 inches. This size is in the mid-range, but various sizes are under this same category. It has found uses in kids’ crafts, theatrical props, and costumes. It also makes up the chunky mix glitter.
- Large Glitter – Large glitter is extra chunky with a flake size of 0.125 inches. It is ideal as a filler and for large-scale coverage since it takes up more space quickly. It forms part of the chunky mix glitter and is also used in outdoor decor, signage, and advertising.
- Extra Large Glitter – Also known as super chunky, extra large glitter has big flakes that are 0.25 inches across. This glitter size is commonly used as confetti and sequins.
- Chunky Mix Glitter – Chunky mix glitter is not on the chart because it contains glitter flakes of variable sizes. People who dislike mixing their own glitter often prefer this type of glitter. It is a combination of fine, medium, and large size glitter flakes.
The cut of glitter refers to the shape of its flakes. There are a couple of cuts.
- Standard Cut – Glitter is typically standard cut. Standard Cuts include hexagonal, rectangular, or square-shaped flakes.
- Dot Cut – Dot-cut glitter has round-shaped flakes like polka dots. Its rounded periphery makes it gentler on the skin and perfect for body art.
- Specialty Cut – Specialty cut glitter, also called shape cut glitter or festive glitter is glitter whose flakes are cut into fancy shapes. It could be a star, crescent, diamond, flower, butterfly, or heart-shaped. This cut is typical of chunky glitter and is a familiar feature of party decorations and kids’ crafts.
- Irregular Cut – Irregular cut glitter, also known as shredded glitter, needs no explanation. This glitter is shredded in no defined pattern. Therefore, every flake takes a random unique shape.
Hopefully, we’ve answered all your questions related to glitter types, sizes, and cuts in this insightful post. You can now confidently choose the best kind of glitter for your project.
Remember, polyester glitter is far superior than craft glitter. It is more durable, acid-free, great for outdoors and thus expensive. Craft glitter is relatively affordable but not long wearing. It works best for indoor bound crafts.