Difference Between Shimmer, Glimmer, Glitter, Frost, and Pearlescent

All About Shimmer, Sparkles, Glimmers, and Other Shiny Finishes

I've had shimmer on the mind since since New Year's. Or is it glimmer or glitter or sparkles. . . or frost? Whatever you call it, it's all about creating some type of glow. Whether it's bold and eye-catching or softly luminizing, check out my little guideline regarding those finishes that glisten below. Which one is your favorite?

  1. Shimmer: A subtle sheen with a hint of sparkle that flickers lightly. A classic example is Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact ($38).
  2. Glimmer: Shimmer's little cousin. A much softer version of shimmer, glimmers are the way to go if you don't want too much sparkle. Try Bare Minerals Glimmer ($13).
  3. Glitter: The "woot, woot" of the glistening finishes. Glitter is the heaviest of the bunch, with small chunks of light-reflecting particles within the composition. Urban Decay makes a Heavy Metal Glitter Liner ($18) for maximum drama.
  4. Frost: More opaque than shimmer, but still gives shine and sheen. Sometimes has a metallic finish or a silvery-white appearance. Check out Milani Lip Color in Frosted Pink ($3.49).
  5. Pearlescent: Has a pearly luster or gloss, giving the illusion of many layers and shades. It has more dimension than frost, and is typically iridescent, shiny, and swirly in appearance — much like pearls themselves. Often found in lipsticks, powders, and nail polishes: Tropez Super Pearl Nail Enamel in Paradise Pearl ($1.99), for instance.
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