Into the Wild with Shari Siadat

Glitter is kind of like a tech bro startup—shiny and great on the outside, until you realize it’s totally toxic. That’s because most glitter is, essentially, plastic, and even though it’s fun to wear, it causes real problems for our water and soil when it goes down the drain after a party, or into the ground during an outdoor music festival or rave.

“When I became a mom, I realized my kids were going to be playing with glitter, breathing with glitter!” says Shari Siadat. “And I was like, ‘No, I can’t let this happen. There has to be plant-based glitter in the USA, right? Right?’”

There was not. That is, until Shari created TooD Beauty, the first line of “bio glitter” made entirely of plant cellulose, which means it’s not only cute—it’s also fully biodegradable. As Festival Season begins (for the first time in three years!) and the Euphoria effect makes glitter a daily beauty staple, that’s a pretty big deal.

Here’s how Shari began her company, what happens when makeup is “too biodegradable,” and when to ignore people who say you’re crazy for trying something that’s never been done before. (Pro tip: Always.)

You’ve been a ballet dancer, a model, a financial consultant—what made you think, “Okay, my next act is glitter!”?

I was writing a children’s book based on my own experience with a unibrow. I’ve had it my whole life, but for a while I tweezed it, because I was teased about it, and I thought I’d never ‘fit in’ if I didn’t look like all the other girls in my small town—I was already insecure enough about not being white and blonde, you know? When I finally let myself look like me again, it was like this immediate change. I was more confident. I was more fun. I was so much more free. So I thought I’d write a children’s book where there could be glitter on my unibrow, to make it a kind of superpower. I wanted to bundle that story with a pack of glitter, so children could use it to express their superpower… And then I realized, “Wait, glitter is just plastic?”

Yeah, traditional glitter is bad.

So bad! I started looking for alternatives, and I couldn’t find any! None! And I was like, “There's no way I'm going to add more pollution to an over-polluted industry. There has to be a solution.” There’s an aspect of me that is a dreamer. There's an aspect of me that is stubborn. And there's an aspect of me that says, “Try to tell me I can't do something and watch me figure it out!” So I went to the chemists; I went to different labs; I said, “Show me compostable glitter.” I finally found it in the UK—just the loose glitter—and I was like, “Great, give me that.” Well, it turns out when we first put it into a [cosmetic] formula, it was too biodegradable. It was eroding on my hands. But somehow, that just made me more obsessed with getting it right.

Why not just let it go?

Because I have 3 children who are inheriting an Earth that is in really big trouble. And if I’m asking beauty factories, ‘Why isn’t this biodegradable? Why isn’t this compostable?’ and they can’t answer me, it means nobody has asked those questions before. But now is the time to ask! Now is the time we have to make the switch; to fill that gap in the market for the good of our skin, our health, the planet’s health, everything. People aren’t going to stop buying things that make them happy. We have to come up with a better way to create those things.

TooD has cosigns from Vogue, Hypebeast, and more. Now what?

I think we have to keep dismantling the toxic thinking that has permeated the beauty world.

I really want to create a safe space for all to belong, and I know that’s grandiose, but why shouldn’t it be true? I feel like if people know they are valued, they can also value the planet. You shouldn’t have to choose, right?! So we’re working on new formulas that are non-toxic, but also don’t promote toxic beauty standards about how you “have” to look. It’s how you might want to look, and how you can do that while supporting the planet and each other.

Do you have a favorite animal fact?

I was just in the Bahamas where there are a lot of stingrays, and I was terrified I would get stung and die. Truly. But I was told that if you see a stingray coming, just stay totally still. So I froze, even though I was scared, and the stingray just rubbed against me. It felt really buttery and beautiful.

Our motto is, “Let good grow wild.” What does that mean to you?

There's a concept called “rewilding” about letting the land go back to nature. And because I take a lot of inspiration from nature, I was thinking about that concept from a soul perspective, like, “How can I rewild myself and my beauty standards?” Allowing my unibrow to grow back was me, rewilding… And if you let things grow wild, they’re inherently good! So I love the concept of taking back your personal power, getting that agency, and saying “This is me.” That’s good growing wild.