How and Where to Donate Your New or Partially Used Beauty Products
See if any of this sounds familiar: You bought a new toner you'd been eager to try, but it irritated your skin and now you're left with a practically full bottle you can't use. Or maybe you purchased a colorful eyeshadow palette after watching Euphoria only to decide in the end that you weren't, in fact, going to become a "fun eyeshadow person." Whatever the situation, these instances can add up, and getting rid of new or partially used beauty products isn't so easy. Unfortunately, throwing them out can be both personally defeating and bad for the environment.
For context, the global beauty industry produced nearly 77 billion units of plastic packaging in 2017, according to data shared by Euromonitor with TeenVogue. The EPA also found in 2018 that the total amount of all plastic packaging in the U.S. has increased by over 120 times since 1960—and 70% of it ends up in landfills.
So, as we work to declutter our beauty cabinets, we should avoid further cluttering landfills. While it's good to recycle the packaging for all our empty products, most centers will require that the packaging is thoroughly cleaned out to have them properly recycled. Since it's a waste (and a shame) to dump out all our unused serums and assorted goops just to recycle the containers, we rounded up ways that you can donate them instead. Keep reading to learn how and where to donate your new or partially used beauty products so that they don't go to waste.
Where to donate new or partially used beauty products:
1. Project Beauty Share
Project Beauty Share collects personal hygiene, cosmetics, and beauty products, and distributes them through non-profit organizations that serve women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness, and poverty to help restore hope and dignity in their lives.
Project Beauty Share has been fully operational as an essential business during the pandemic and is currently accepting donations. Per the website, the need for products has greatly increased during the pandemic, since many have been dealing with financial losses—so now is an especially important time to contribute. Head here for all the guidelines on what to donate and how to send them.
2. Beauty Bus
Beauty Bus was founded in memory of Melissa Marantz Nealy, a young woman who died at age 28 from a degenerative neuromuscular disease. In her final days, her family and friends arranged for haircuts, manicures, and facials to provide some extra cheer. In Nealy's honor, her family founded Beauty Bus to offer similar forms of care and support of terminally ill patients and caregivers, through gifts of beauty bags and at-home services.
While Beauty Bus doesn't accept any opened or used products, they do accept new, sealed products that are at least six months from the expiration date. At this time, the organization is only accepting packages from corporations, due to the pandemic, but you can check the product donation guidelines list here for updates.
3. Dress For Success
Dress For Success is a global non-profit organization that, according to the site, works to provide "a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life." Though the organization is largely known for its collection of clothing donations, Dress For Success also accepts unopened cosmetics, toiletries, fragrances, and both hygiene and grooming products. Find a location near you via the website to learn more about the local affiliates' guidelines for donations.
4. Share Your Beauty
Share Your Beauty's site says it's dedicated to "putting a bit of sparkle and dignity back into the lives of women and teens in crisis." The program—which is part of the hunger and poverty-relief program Family-to-Family—collects new, unopened, unexpired cosmetics, hair, skincare, and personal care products and delivers them to organizations serving women in crisis.
Share Your Beauty has currently paused its donation collection during the pandemic, but you can check here for updates on when the program will resume.
5. Local women's shelter
If you don't want to deal with shipping your products out, you can always look up local women's shelters near you to drop off donations in person. Women's shelters and programs are often looking for donations of personal hygiene and self-care products. While every shelter will have its own guidelines for donations—and some may not accept opened products—it's worth giving your local shelter a call to find out how you can contribute.
6. Organize a local swap or giveaway
Have a crew of beauty lovers in your life? Organize a meetup with your friends to give away or trade some of your new or gently used beauty products. You can also establish guidelines for cleanliness, asking everyone to scrape off the top layers and sanitize their products. If you don't have a group to do a product swap with, you can also make a "for free" posting on Facebook Marketplace to see who may be interested or in need of your products.
Interested in decreasing your beauty-related carbon footprint even more? Find out how to create a zero-waste beauty routine here.