Kim Kardashian has promoted the launch of her upcoming range of cosmetics by posting an Instagram picture of herself covered in nothing but gold and silver glitter.

As the products launch on 1 December, it is unclear whether they actually contain glitter. However, the trendsetting power of the Kardashian brand will no doubt mean millions will be exploring the use of shimmering makeup products in the wake of her provocative post.

Glitter is used in many different products, and while it may seem harmless, it can actually be damaging to the environment.

"Glitter can be washed into our rivers and sewers and eventually end up in the sea," Emma Cunningham from the Marine Conservation Society told IBTimes UK. "It makes up a part of the total microplastic load that can cause harm to the oceans."

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles which are defined by the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration as being smaller than 5mm - a definition which includes glitter.

These microplastics are almost undetectable but they may now be the most common type of plastic pollution in the world's oceans. Some estimates suggest that the total number of microplastic fragments could be as high as 51 trillion.

As a result of this, scientists worry that toxic chemicals could be making their way through the food chain.

"Microplastics can be ingested by everything from zooplankton at the base of the food chain in the oceans all the way up to seabirds, fish, turtles and whales," Cunningham said.

"Toxins and Pollutants can be adsorbed from seawater onto plastic surfaces and these toxins may then be passed into animal tissues and up the food chain to us as seafood consumers. It has been estimated that an average seafood consumer ingest 11,000 plastic particles a year."

In addition, the plastic that glitter is usually made from - known as PET - can break down and release chemicals that have the potential to disrupt hormones in animals and humans, according to research carried out by Trisia Farrelly from Massey University - who has called for glitter to be banned.

In the UK, some retailers, such as cosmetics chain Lush, have stopped using glitter that contains PET in their products, instead replacing it with a biodegradable alternative made from synthetic mica.

The UK government has also already said it will go ahead with a ban on another type of microplastic - the so-called 'microbeads' found in many cosmetic and personal care products, such as exfoliating scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes.

IBTimes UK has contacted KKW Beauty for comment.

Ultralight Beams highlighters & glosses launching Dec 1st on KKWBEAUTY.COM

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