How to Recycle Makeup

Tips and tricks to reduce, reuse, and recycle makeup!

Happy Earth Day! We all want to have a healthy thriving planet that is going to be able to sustain us for generations to come. The amount of decisions you have to make in order to be “green” or environmentally responsible can be overwhelming. The good news is that every small change you make adds up.

With beauty bloggers showing off enormous IKEA ALEX Vanities full of makeup and hair products and the inundation of ads we see everyday, it’s hard to resist buying more beauty products than we actually need. How can we do our part when it comes to makeup?

Related Post: My DIY IKEA ALEX Makeup Vanity


A great way to be more environmentally friendly when it comes to makeup is to reduce the amount we are buying to begin with. As someone with a LOT of makeup I realize that doesn’t sound super fun.

Buy Less Makeup

The upside of buying less makeup is you’ll have more money, you’ll have less clutter, and you won’t forget about products you love.

“No buy” policy

Institute a “No Buy” policy for yourself. Do an assessment of all of your beauty products and make a list of items you have way too many of. Keep it handy on your phone and remember to check it before making a beauty purchase.

Resist Stocking Up or Multiples

Avoid the urge to stock up and over-buy makeup. This can be hard since drugstores and Ulta often have BOGO offers. Stay strong! You don’t need the second bronzer- you might have found a new holy grail before you’ve even finished the first! It may feel like you’re saving money by using these deals, but you’re really spending more on product you’ll never use.

Use Every Drop Before Replacing

We’ve all had a graveyard of 80% used shampoos in our shower before. This is why it’s better to use every drop of a product up before buying its replacement.

Buy Smarter

You will have to buy more makeup eventually, so how can you buy in a less wasteful way?

Try Before You Buy with Samples

When you buy a new foundation then realize it’s the wrong shade and have to return it the store then puts the barely used product in a landfill. Instead of doing this, ask for samples of products you want to try in multiple shades so you can try them on in different light and pick the best shade for yourself. Sephora is a great place for samples.

Do Your Research and Shop with a List

With the internet at our fingertips we have more resources than ever to get information about products before we buy them. Watch reviews and read up to see what others are saying about the products. Then promise yourself you will only buy the items on your list. Avoid impulse shopping.

Buy Smaller Sizes

If you’re unsure about if you’ll like a new product or formula- buy the small size first. I did this with IT Cosmetics CC Cream and Benefit Hoola bronzer and these deluxe sample sizes last me many uses. Having less product to begin with will help prevent you from ending up with way more than you need.

Buy Cruelty Free Makeup

Animals are a big part of our beautiful planet. One way to help protect animals is to shop cruelty free makeup. Cruelty Free Kitty keeps an up to date database of all makeup and beauty brands that are cruelty free. They also have a guide for transitioning to shopping cruelty-free.

Shop Local

If you live in the USA, buying makeup products that are made here can help to reduce the manufacturing and transporting carbon footprint. I have a blog post all about Makeup Made in the USA.

Related Post:Makeup Made in the USA

Get Rid of Makeup Buying Triggers

Unsubscribe from Store Email Lists

Email notifications are like little reminders to shop. Sale! New product! Deal! Buy it now or die ugly and full of regret!

Consume Less Content

Every time I notice myself doing a lot of shopping I try to cut down on my beloved social media consumption- especially YouTube and Instagram. Seeing people never wear the same outfit twice or posting haul after haul will give you the urge to shop like none other.


Ok re-using makeup sounds kind of gross, but it doesn’t have to be.

Shop Your Stash

This is a popular YouTube tag. Shopping your stash means instead of constantly buying new makeup, look through what you already have and have forgotten all about and give it a try instead. You never know what old faves you might find a new appreciation for.

Use Your Products in Different Ways

Ever buy a bronzer that was too orange? Try it out as a transition shade like an eyeshadow. Have a powder foundation that wasn’t the right color? Use it to set your eyeshadow base. Have an old eyeshadow palette that’s not getting much love? See if you can use any of the shades to fill in your eyebrows or contour with. Lipsticks can be used on the cheeks as blush. I recommend applying it and blending it out with fingers.

Check out Mamabee’s article on how to Reuse Your Old and Broken Makeup in 13 Ingenious Ways for some DIY inspo.

Get Every Last Bit Out

Cut Off the Bottom

I use sharp cuticle scissors to cut the bottom off of creams, primers, sunscreens, etc so I can get to every last bit of product. There’s so much left at the bottom that you can’t get out any other way!

Swoon Universal Lip Gloss Scoop

I also love my Swoon Universal Lip Gloss Scoop and Applicator. It was designed to get the last drops out of your lip gloss tubes, but I actually use it a lot for foundation especially. Foundation is so expensive by the ounce! And using this and scraping the sides helps me get a few more uses out of an almost empty bottle.

SEPHORA COLLECTION Swoon Lip Gloss Pick Up Artist. This tool is to help you get the last bits of lip gloss (or even foundation or concealer) out of the container!

Give Away New or Gently Used and Sanitized Products

I have a Play! By Sephora monthly subscription and they occasionally send me duplicates of products. Instead of saving endless backups, I gift them to family and friends. After decluttering my makeup stash I’ve even brought my new and gently used products in for my friends to go through and choose any that interested them.

Take Excellent Care of Your Products

Always Close the Cap or Lid

Once you’ve started decluttering and only having and using high quality products you love, it’s time to learn to take better care of them. This means simple things like always replacing caps tightly so liquid eyeliners or cream products don’t dry out.

Go through your purse lipsticks, give the packaging a wipe down, and store them together and a handy makeup bag so they don’t roll around open in your purse.

Clean Makeup Brushes and Beauty Blenders

Cleaning your makeup brushes and beauty blender can help to extend the amount of uses you get out of them.

Related Post: How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes and Sponges

Store Products in the Right Places

Be sure to always store products out of direct sunlight and not in extreme temperatures. This means not keeping your makeup in the car. It’s also important to keep skincare products (especially Vitamin C) and fragrances out of direct sunlight. The fridge can work for some! This will extend their life.

Buy Refillable Products

Kjaer Weis Intelligent Refill System

Danish organic beauty brand Kjaer Weis has gorgeous packing that also has a purpose – to reduce the amount of waste they create. Their signature compacts are designed to be used over and over again with their Intelligent Refill system.


Makeup Brand Recycling Programs

Makeup brands know that their consumers are into saving the environment. A few have them have even come up with their own programs to do their part. Makeup recycling can come in the form of accepting used consumer packaging for recycling purposes, packaging that limits waste from refilling a product, and using recycled packaging for new products.

Back to MAC

MAC will accept returns of its primary packing and if you turn in 6 items you can exchange them for a lipstick. I ALWAYS have a “Back to MAC” bag of empties going. I think I’m going to get Lisa Rinna’s favorite MAC lipstick next- Kinda Sexy.

Brands With Zero Waste or Sustainable Packaging

Becca of Organically Becca did an amazing job of compiling 30+ natural brands with zero waste and sustainable packing.


Many beauty brands are using the company Terracycle to help recycle the “non-recyclable” home items. Companies like Burt’s Bees will accept empties of their products which they clean and melt into hard plastic that can be remolded to make new recycled products. For the month of April Burt’s Bees will accept products and packing from all brands to be recycled.

How Terracycle Works

If you’re feeling inspired to start your own movement, you can buy a zero waste solution for your beauty products and packaging from Terracycle. You can collect all of you and your friend’s empty products and ship them in to be recycled.

Good luck reducing, reusing and recycling your makeup to help make this beautiful planet a better place! Let me know if you have any more tips to add!

Author: Lindsay

Lindsay is the creator of Blushing in Hollywood a beauty, dating, travel and lifestyle blog based in Los Angeles, California.

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