Recycling Makeup 101

Have you ever recycled your makeup? No, well neither have I, but I have been researching into my options to become eco-friendlier and more sustainable when it comes to how I dispose my products. I don’t always finish my products as many expire after a few months, there is little thought of how I throw them out, I just throw them out with the rest of my rubbish for that day. The beauty industry now has options to help you achieve your sustainability goals. There is still a pandemic going on out here so many in-person retail options may still not be available. However, nothing beats doing a little inventory check of you what still use and need and having it ready to be disposed of in a sustainable way.

There are a few things you should be aware of before you begin recycling your makeup. Let’s start with the obvious – most of the packaging produced by the beauty industry is non-degradable. These fill up landfills while the chemicals in various cosmetics can have a detrimental effect on the environment, especially water, so we need to find ways to fix our hazardous disposal habits.

You can easily find brands that offer rewards for recycling products, still, little is known about how effective these sustainability programs are. Instead, I’m going to give you a little breakdown on how to recycle certain products, rather than recommending sustainability programs that little is known about.


I’m starting off with a common material: plastic! These are popularly used for shower products like soaps, shampoos and conditioners. You can dispose them in a multitude of recycling programmes after you’ve emptied them out and thoroughly washed them. When you are emptying the product out, don’t wash it out, you need to throw as much in the bin as possible. Just be sure to remove any pumps or trigger heads because only lids are allowed in the recycling bank.


These products are simple to recycle. Just empty, clean, then pop it over in the recycling bin. I know it’s a little tedious to have to empty and clean your products before you recycle them, but just remember that you are taking another step in protecting the environment from the chemicals in the cosmetics, too!

Lipstick, Mascara, Compacts & Palettes

This is when the road to easily recycling your cosmetics stops. There are various compartments that come with these products. Don’t worry! I have other solutions up my sleeve for you. The easier option is to send it to a third-party company to recycle, such as Teracycle, but you can also take them apart and recycle certain parts. For instance, you can take apart the palette by removing the magnets and any mirrors, then you can dispose of these parts separately. Another example, your mascara applicators aren’t typically recyclable while the tubes are, but you can donate them to animal sanctuaries that need them.


Surprisingly, you can recycle your deodorants and hairsprays, as they are made from aluminium or steel. You just need to ensure that your cans are actually empty and that you remove detachable parts. Then go ahead and toss them in a recycling collection scheme.


Unfortunately, you cannot recycle all of your cosmetics, such as fragrance bottles, makeup brushes or nail varnish. Additionally, makeup wipes and single use face masks are not recyclable unless they are biodegradable, just these products wisely.

If you still want to find a way to recycle your cosmetics there are schemes and third-party brands that are glad to take those products off your hands for a fee. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has halted many of them, but they’re good to keep in mind once they are re-opened for business. TerraCycle is a great example, they work in over twenty countries, and they will collect and repurpose any kind of waste product. All you need to do is place your unwanted cosmetic packaging in a postage box. Sign up for TerraCycle, download and print off a shipping label for your box, then send it off to your local recycling depot.

There are alternative options for recycling, too. You can donate to charities that accept untouched or gently used makeup for those that need it. There are many local organisations that will take in these donations and national ones. There’s Beauty Bus, Give & Makeup and Project Beauty Share among others. Alternatively, you could sell your makeup on second-hand beauty websites, such as Glambot and Poshmark.

Whatever you decide to do, just keep in mind there are many ways you can dispose of your beauty products, so you can be more sustainable. I am trying to purchase less products that I know I will never use nowadays, and I have been doing really well since the end of January. You could also opt for quality products rather than the quantity you accumulate. Purchase what you need, stay safe, and let’s carry on bettering how we dispose of our makeup sustainably.

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