Recently, I have been getting a lot of emails about what to do with old makeup.
Some people don’t know where to get rid of it, other people don’t want to add it to the landfill, and others are just curious about what happens to used cosmetics.
Today I’ll be addressing all three reasons and telling you just where to go and how to dispose of your old makeup.
Where to Dispose of Old Makeup
In order for makeup to be recycled, it must be placed in a bin that is provided to you by a local recycling center.
The following are the top 3 places where you can dispose of your old makeup.
1. Department of Public Works
This is a government-run facility where all make-up items are accepted and disposed of properly.
You can contact this agency by calling or visiting their office.
2. Local Solid Waste Agency
This is an agency that handles waste management in your area.
You can contact this agency by phone or online to find out what types of make-up they accept and how much they charge for disposal services.
3. Local Public Library
This is another good place where you can dispose of your old make-up products because libraries usually have collections bins at their entrances that collect recyclables like paper, plastics, etc.
So if you have any unwanted cosmetics lying around at home then consider donating them instead!
How Should You Dispose of Your Makeup?
Make sure your makeup is expired or damaged.
While it might be hard to say goodbye, you need to remember that makeup doesn’t last forever.
Just like food and other consumables, cosmetics have an expiration date.
In addition, there are many reasons why you should throw out a product before its shelf life is up.
Know what to throw away
With the exception of some fragrances that are built to last for decades, cosmetics and skincare products will eventually expire.
This can happen within a few months or up to two years after opening the product (depending on the type).
Since this process varies depending on the type of makeup you’re using, it’s important that you check each individual item before throwing it out.
You may even want to look into what types of products need to be disposed of when they become damaged or unwanted so that you don’t end up with a pile of unused items in your bathroom cabinet!
Is It Possible to Sell Your Old Makeup?
There are a few options worth exploring:
You could sell your used makeup to a friend.
If you’re able to find someone who is interested and trusts you, this can be an incredibly easy solution.
Simply wipe off the makeup with alcohol, or clean it as well as you can.
In some cases, you may be able to sell it for less than full price, but in most cases, a friend would likely purchase it at the same price that you paid (or comped).
You could sell your used makeup to a stranger.
This is where things get more complicated.
It’s not possible for you to resell this product in stores—even if they take returns, they won’t accept used products from individuals—so selling online might be the best option.
Do enough research on eBay and other e-commerce sites like Poshmark and Mercari before selling anything so that you know how much it might be worth based on what other people are getting for similar items.
Also, consider including your product in bundles of other products that might get more attention from viewers and potential customers.
Can You Just Throw Away Your Makeup in the Trash?
When it comes to throwing out makeup, you should generally stick with what works for the rest of your junk: trash, recycling, and compost.
But there are some exceptions that can be a bit tricky.
For example, You probably know that your packaging is not recyclable.
What you may not know is that these items should be considered household hazardous waste or universal waste (depending on where you live).
This category includes things like batteries and light bulbs, which can be dangerous if they’re not handled properly.
The same goes for a lot of your cosmetics products, thanks to all of the chemicals used in formulations.
Some products contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and humans if they’re not disposed of correctly—like carcinogens found in lipstick, for example—and others contain ingredients that have been banned in other countries due to their toxic nature.
For example, Many Canadian provinces prohibit lead acetate in hair dye products after studies showed high levels were being absorbed through the scalp and into people’s bloodstreams when they were dying their hair at home.
Can You Bring Your Empty Makeup Containers Back to the Store?
Unfortunately, no. Unless the store has a specific return policy for unopened containers (such as Sephora’s Beauty Insider program), you cannot return opened containers to the store.
Even if a store accepts returns of makeup products, they will only take back items that are unopened and unused by their policy.
Additionally, not all stores will accept returns on empty makeup containers to recycle them.
If you want to donate your empty makeup containers, check with your local recycling center or beauty school first to see if they can use the empty bottles and tubes for their work.
What’s the Best Way to Get Rid of Lipsticks and Lip Glosses?
Lipsticks and lip glosses are not considered hazardous waste, so you can safely dispose of them in the trash.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you should throw them in the trash willy-nilly. Here’s what you need to do:
- Clean out any remaining product as best you can (wash it off or wipe with a tissue).
- Wrap the product up in tissue paper or plastic wrap so that it won’t leak. (A small piece of cardboard would work too.)
- Place the wrapped product into an old Ziploc bag so there’s no chance it will come into contact with other objects.
How Do You Dispose of Sunscreen and Lotion?
If you don’t know how to dispose of sunscreen and lotion, you’re not alone. Most people just throw them in the trash.
However, these products can hurt wildlife if not disposed of properly. Here’s how to do it.
If your sunscreens or lotions have reached their expiration date or sat too long on your shelf, you need to dispose of them appropriately.
- Contact your local waste agency for disposal recommendations.
- Check with your household hazardous waste facility for proper disposal procedures, but never place it in the garbage.
The ingredients found in sunscreens and lotions can be harmful to the environment when they reach landfills or sewers (or even if it’s washed down the drain).
In addition, some ingredients are toxic to aquatic life.
You should never pour sunscreen or lotion down a drain or flush them down a toilet either because they could harm aquatic life living downstream from where you live.
Can You Donate Your Old Makeup to a Good Cause?
Where can you donate your new and slightly-used makeup?
As with clothing, there are a wide variety of options.
If the makeup is new, consider donating it to charity; if it’s used, you may want to give it to a friend or family member instead.
A few places where you can donate:
- Women’s shelter
- Homeless shelter
- Domestic violence shelter
- Dress for Success (a charity that helps women find work)
- Theatre company
- School (especially if it has a theatre program)
Are There Any Downsides to Donating Used Makeup?
Before you go ahead and donate your makeup, there are some downsides to keep in mind.
Although this method is great for clearing out old or unwanted products, you want to make sure that the makeup you donate is still good.
Don’t donate any old products and assume that they will be used.
There are a few things that charities may not accept:
- Makeup that’s past its expiration date
- Makeup not in its original packaging
- Used makeup
- Makeup tested on animals or not cruelty-free
- Non-high end brand makeup
Are There Any Benefits to Donating Used Makeup?
When you donate your used makeup to the right place, there are several benefits:
1. You can help someone in need
One of the biggest reasons is simply to help others out who are less fortunate than you.
A free lipstick or eyeshadow palette might not seem like much, but it could make a huge difference for someone who doesn’t have the means to buy their own makeup.
Think about how happy it would make you receive a new beauty product that’s just perfect for you—someone else out there feels the same way!
That’s why many people choose to give back by donating the things they don’t want anymore, even if they’re only slightly used.
2. You can reduce your environmental impact.
On top of helping others, donating your old cosmetics is an easy way to support a more sustainable environment!
Beauty products contain chemicals that can be harmful when they’re washed into our water supply through landfills and sewers—and this includes recycled packaging as well as leftover product inside old tubes and containers.
By cleaning out your closet before throwing anything away, you’ll be able to reuse something great instead of having it go straight into the trash (and then potentially polluting nearby water sources).
Can You Dispose of Your Old Makeup in a Portable Recycling Bin or Drop-off Center?
While it’s tempting to think that a portable recycling bin or drop-off center might be good places to get rid of your old makeup, it’s not the best idea.
The chances are high that you could end up ruining the contents of the recycling bin, which may be difficult for others to sort through safely.
This could cause more harm than good, so do your part and stick to the methods mentioned above.
It’s true: makeup (and other beauty) products can be uniquely overwhelming when it comes to disposal.
When thinking of ways you can dispose of old makeup, the last thing you want to do is add to waste reclamation by putting your old products in the wrong place.
Don’t do any more harm than good!