How to dispose of gently used cosmetics?
September 29, 2006 12:30 AM   Subscribe

What do do with barely used cosmetics? Any ideas on how to give them a more useful life?

I have very sensitive skin. Usually the cosmetics that my skin likes end up being discontinued pretty quickly, so I have to keep testing new stuff to figure out what works for me. The problem is I keep building up a collection of cosmetics that have been used very little. I don't like wasting stuff, and I have way too many cosmetics that I tried and did not quite suit my skin, so are just there, sitting idly, waiting to be thrown out when they expire. What do you do to deal with cosmetic/beauty products that don't work that well for you? How do you get rid of them without getting directly to the landfill? Even if they don't work for me, I'm pretty sure they might be useful for someone, do you know if there's somewhere I can donate them? Any other ideas?
posted by irian to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total)
Do you know of anyone who has small children that like to play dress up? They would probably love to get their hands on makeup that they could play with (and their mother/caretaker wouldn't have to worry so much about them getting into theirs).

Other than that, maybe some women's shelter? (Not sure on this one).

Or friends who also have sensitive skin and don't mind sharing?

(In my case, I have a former college roommate who ADORES makeup but doesn't have a whole lot of cash. Often when something doesn't work on me (or my mother), I give it to her and she absolutely rocks it.)
posted by sperose at 12:44 AM on September 29, 2006

If you're buying from a drugstore, most will let you return make-up these days with a receipt (for future reference.)
posted by sophie at 3:19 AM on September 29, 2006

Makeup Alley has a swap section. If you're not interested in trading, you can probably still find takers. But if you've used only a tiny portion of the product, it's probably worth it to see if the store will take it back.
posted by smich at 4:18 AM on September 29, 2006

If you mean colorful paint-like goop (not boring moisturizers and the like), give them to artists.
posted by pracowity at 4:40 AM on September 29, 2006

I second the swap section at Makeup Alley (MUA). If not, there are charities and women's shelters that take makeup.

MUA can also help save you a lot of money through the product review section from its members - that way you can check to see what users thought of the product for sensitive skin.
posted by catburger at 5:14 AM on September 29, 2006

And if they're not from the drugstore, most department store makeup counters will take a product back if it isn't compatible with your skin. And in the future, you can ask them for samples before you spend the money.
posted by boomchicka at 5:36 AM on September 29, 2006

Do not, however, share eye makeup. Ever. Even one use will introduce bacteria into it from your eyes, and that's not the sort of thing you want to be spreading around.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:03 AM on September 29, 2006

Eyeshadows with mica flakes in them can be used by people who deal with plastic clay, in case you have any friends who are really into Sculpey.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:07 AM on September 29, 2006 [2 favorites]

Put them in a big lot - or several - and sell them on ebay.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:14 PM on September 29, 2006

I've heard of people donating cosmetics to local women's shelters, based on the thought that they might have very little to make them feel beautiful during their tough times.
posted by Adelwolf at 12:29 PM on September 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sometimes the women at my work have clothing/makeup swaps and no one seems to mind gently used makeup. We take the leftovers to a charity. (Sorry, can't recall the name--it's an organization that helps women who are homeless or in abuse shelters get clothes for jobs.)
posted by faunafrailty at 3:53 PM on September 29, 2006

Wow, so many ideas!

I don't keep any receipts (I usually buy this stuff with my groceries anyway), so returning it might not be possible. I should probably start keeping some of them, but I've tried and I just get swamped in paper, and have become more selective on receipt storage.

I didn't know Makeup Alley had a swap section. I do find their reviews very helpful, and have kept me from impulsive buying (at least now I check for reviews before getting new stuff!). Sadly, my skin is so prickly that stuff that other people rave out can easily break me out. However, most of the stuff I have is creams that can be very easily obtained in drugstores, so I doubt on the usefulness/interest of swapping that way. I'm not looking for recovering my money (although that would be cool), but shipping costs might not be very practical.

A local women's shelter sounds like a great idea, and is probably what I'm going to end up doing.

And the artistry application of makeup sounds wonderful. I don't have any artist friends, but I like doing decorative stuff from time to time. Might hold on to those eyeshadows!

Can nail enamel be used in any sort of "artistic" way too? I have a broad collection of shades, including green and purple from waaaaaay back when I was in highschool and was probably color blind. I know I have to get rid of them, and they are so old that giving them to other people is out of the question, but if they can become artsy, that would be cool!
posted by irian at 4:04 PM on September 29, 2006

The only extra use I know for artistically colored nail enamel is for marking tools - it's pretty durable, so it makes a decent label. My old physics teacher used to pay 50 cents or something for our half-used bottles of odd colors.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:47 PM on September 29, 2006

I use old nail polish to mark things too. When I use a combination lock, which is never on the same locker, I paint bright-coloured polish on the dial so that I don't have to remember the locker number. It tends to chip after a while, so you might have to reapply once in a while.

Nail polish is also good for mending jewelry, at least temporarily. The only thing is that you have to match the polish to the jewelry, unless of course it's clear.
posted by catburger at 8:18 AM on September 30, 2006

Ditto giving them to little kids who want to play dress-up.
posted by radioamy at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2006

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