Ask any unicorn, fairy or princess and they’ll tell you that anything can be made just a little bit better — and more sparkly — by adding one key ingredient. What is it? Glitter!

Whether it’s a unicorn’s mane, a fairy’s wand or a princess’ slippers, glitter makes the ordinary shine and sparkle. But what exactly is glitter and where did it come from?

Glitter is made up of hundreds — even thousands or tens of thousands! — of tiny pieces of various materials. What types of materials? Some common glitter materials include copolymer plastics, aluminum foil, titanium dioxide and iron oxides.

These materials are usually produced in thin sheets that are painted with bright metallic or iridescent colors that reflect light. The sheets are then cut up into tiny pieces to make glitter that sparkles brightly when its many pieces reflect light in a colorful spectrum!

To keep it from being too messy, glitter makers usually package glitter in small containers that have small holes that help control the flow of glitter. To apply glitter to an object, you will usually use glue or another type of sticky substance that the glitter will stick to.

In addition to arts and crafts projects, glitter can also be used in combination with cosmetics. You may see people wearing glitter make-up or using nail polish that contains glitter. If you want to look sparkly, there’s no better way than adding some glitter to your clothes or body!

So how long has glitter been around? In its present form, glitter has only been around for about 75 years or so. However, scientists have found cave paintings that are over 2,000 years old that include mica flakes that give the paintings a sparkly appearance.

Modern glitter as we know it was invented in 1934 by a New Jersey cattle rancher named Henry Ruschmann. Henry also dabbled as a machinist. His hobby led to the accidental discovery of a process that used a machine to precisely cut plastic films into thousands of tiny pieces.

All those tiny pieces of plastic eventually became the product we now call glitter. Ruschmann started a company called Meadowbrook Inventions to produce glitter in large quantities. His company is still in business today and is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glitter.

33 Join the Discussion

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    • We will keep sharing Wonders of the Day, and we hope that YOU will keep WONDERing, Lucie! We’re so glad to hear that you learned some cool new things about glitter by checking out today’s Wonder! We appreciate your comment! :-)

  1. Interesting wonder, but I’m a boy, so not to my taste, but still interesting.

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about a zoo or animals that work in movies.

    • Hello, icebat2! Thanks for sharing another AMAZING comment with us today! It’s fun to WONDER about how things are made and who might have invented them, so we’re glad you thought today’s Wonder was interesting even if crafting with glitter isn’t your type of thing! YOU ROCK! :-)

    • It’s OK, icebat2! Being the second commenter is REALLY AWESOME, too! We value EVERY comment we get from our Wonder Friends here in Wonderopolis, and we think you are an AMAZING commenter! :-)

    • We’re so very happy to hear that, Julie! We think it’s WONDERful and SPARKLY! Thank you for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

    • We thought that was a super cool use for glitter too, Tori! Please get a parent’s permission before you glitter up your floors, though! We want to make sure they’re OK with it first! :-)

  2. Glitter,the only thing to make dreams come true.It’s the stars in the night sky,the rain poring down from leaves,and it’s the glass that makes disco partys.And,the sidewalks sometimes sparkle from the sun’s reflection.:-D

  3. I love today’s wonder! In a birthday party, I have tried to put glitter on my hair. When I was 4 years old, I put glitter on my door!I still wonder how the squirting , liquid glitter works!

  4. Glitter is pretty and sparkly it’s also fun to play with. I got one question who invented glitter glue? Speaking of glitter glue we got some at home. Thanks for another great wonder!

    • That is an excellent question! We have something we were WONDERing too! What is your favorite craft to use glitter glue on?

  5. Sorry that I havent been typing I been in Wisner Nebraska .We also drove to my grandma’s house with no wi fi. I think that the video was really cool. Glitter is awesome. Have a Wonderful night.

    • What a SUPER Wonder, KATIE! We think it’s funny to imagine a popcorn flavored jellybean… or grass-flavored jellybeans! YIKES! :)

  6. I never really took the time to think about this. It’s amazing how its been around for such a long time! I really enjoyed this wonder.

    Thank you,
    Alissa P.

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed our sparkling Wonder, Alissa P! It’s fun to learn something new with a great Friend like you! :)

  7. It’s so cool that the main glitter supply comes from the company Meadow Brook and it’s been in business since 1934!
    Awesome post!

    • Can you believe glitter has been sparkling since 1934, Natalie? We LOVE glitter here at Wonderopolis, and we’re so happy to know that you enjoyed our shimmering Wonder, too! Thanks for pointing out the most interesting fact you found! :)

    • Glitter glitter everywhere, Morgan! We sure hope you don’t have glitter in your eyes, but we think you’d be able to tell. Our eyes are very sensitive, especially when there are foreign objects in them, like glitter. Your eyelashes help keep out those objects, and the water and blinking help to get things out. We bet you are doing just fine, Morgan! :)

    • We’re so excited you have been WONDERing about things that glitter and glow with us today, Adriana! We hope your day is sparkling and awesome! :)

  8. Once I did a project using glitter to tape it or glue it on to snow. Then inside cardboard box painted white, I put in an evergreen tree and a snowman. The glitter really made everything look sparkly. And once when I was younger I made a special machine that shot out glitter.
    Please make a wonder on Harry Potter or Hogwarts.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What makes glitter sparkle?
  • Who invented glitter?
  • What crafts can you make with glitter?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to get your glitter on? Craft projects can be so much more fun when you add glitter to them. Here are some fun projects you can try with a friend or family member:

When you’re finished, share your creations with your Wonder Friends by posting pictures of what you make on Facebook. We can’t wait to see your shiny, sparkly, glittery creations!

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Xpeditions’ The Quest for Gold activity, children discover the value of gold, which has been important to trading throughout time.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day features lions and tigers and bears…oh my!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.