Everything’s better with a bit of glitter—even the faintest hint of it. Glitter in beauty has a long, rich history, but for many of us, it's most strongly associated with the pop stars of the early 2000s. The era was many things, but subtle was not one of them, and glitter was caked on with chunky roll-on body glitters and frosty lipsticks. Since then, glitter has gone in an out of style, but it's usually saved for special occasions or making a statement—until now, thanks to Gen Z breathing new life into the shimmering staple with the invisible glitter trend.
Where You've Seen it
Glitter as we know it was invented in 1934 by American machinist Henry Ruschmann—prior to that, it was made of glass and was prohibitively expensive. Thanks to glitter's new accessibility, drag queens like LaVerne Cummings, Barbette, and Gene La Marr worked glitter into their makeup routines from the ‘30s to early ‘60s, focusing the reflective product around their eyes to add light and glamour to their looks.
Glitter took center stage in the ’70s, when glam rockers like David Bowie transformed themselves into their stage-ready alter-egos. In the ‘90s and early 2000s, celebrities and commoners alike applied glitter practically anywhere they wanted to shine—this gave way to iconic glitter moments like Paris Hilton's body shimmer at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001.
Most recently, glitter has popped up in more precise applications, like models at Peter Do’s SS23 collection strutting down the runway with glitter brows, or the hundreds of glittery makeup looks featured in Euphoria. But the pendulum always swings the other way, and Gen Z is embracing a more ethereal, effortless take on sparkles.
The Invisible Glitter Trend
Contrary to the name, you can still see invisible glitter. Invisible glitter is a light wash of glitter particles along the lid to add shine to an eye look. What makes this different from glitter eye looks of yesteryear is that the glitter isn't too opaque or pigmented on the eye. Rather, it offers a few specs of shine on top of a matte shadow or a bare lid, creating a finish that lives somewhere in between a glitter and a shimmer—it's an almost wet-looking dew instead of a chromatic shine. White or silver glitter is usually used to create these hints of glimmer, but we'd argue that you can diffuse any color glitter to achieve this trend
With so many Y2K makeup trends popping up, we’ve seen a revival of the pastel matte eyeshadow looks that stars like Beyoncé and Pamela Anderson wore constantly. Although chunky eye glitter wasn’t the trendiest thing to sport in the early 2000s, body glitter was, and it offered a similar barely-there shimmer that's resurfacing now in the invisible glitter trend. Combining a pastel shadow base with a translucent wash of glitter is the perfect marriage of these two Y2K beauty trends. Many TikToker’s are also using invisible glitter as a key component of the Douyin makeup trend —which uses a sheer glitter to shape the eyes—that is popular in East Asia and making its way west.
How to Wear Invisible Glitter
“This seems like it would be a younger look, but honestly, with the right cream formulas and fine silky sparkle cream shadow, anyone can create this look,” Kate Synnott, celebrity makeup artist and RÓEN Beauty's creative director previously told Byrdie.
Synnott explains, “Using your fingers to apply this eyeshadow palette [RÒEN's Mood 4 Ever] is the best way to get it to stay all day. And the beauty about cream products is there's no fallout, so the sparkles stay on the eyes and don’t end up all over your face.”
Although Synnott recommends using a cream glitter, others on social media are proving that you can use a variety of glitter products, like glitter gels, loose glitters, or glitter eyeshadows.
Whichever glitter you choose, the application is about the same—after applying an eyeshadow base, use your finger as your tool. Before patting the glitter onto the eyelid, you’ll want to shake off any excess product, as having too much glitter on your finger can lead to an opaque finish that would take away from the invisible glitter effect.
Then, pat the glitter onto your eyelid. If you do prefer to use a makeup brush, opt for a blending brush to gently dust glitter onto your lids.
And just like that, you’ve achieved the invisible glitter look. Sure, it may not be as shocking as glitter looks of the past, but it’s just proof that there will always be space (even if just a little) for sparkle in our beauty routines.