How To Correctly Recycle & Repurpose Beauty Products

TikTok can be a useful tool for shopping for beauty products. But sometimes, even after reading countless reviews, a skincare, makeup, or haircare purchase may not work out the way you imagined. Do you keep almost full product on your counter to collect dust? Or throw it away (and live with the guilt)? Luckily, there are other options if you're willing to do some legwork or get creative, so ahead, we spoke with sustainability experts to get their best tips for reusing, recycling, or repurposing the beauty purchases you don't have. know what to do with it.

1. Check the return policy

If you've opened a product and quickly discover it's not right for you, you may be able to get your money back. Ulta has a generous return policy which allows refunds, credits or exchanges “if you are not completely satisfied with a product for any reason.” At Sephora, for their part, the returns of New or lightly used products are entitled to a full refund. Just be sure to do your research and act quickly: Sephora's terms only include products returned within 30 days of purchase, for example.

2. Ask in group chat

So you have either passed the return deadline or used the product “carelessly” before realizing that it cannot be kept. In this case, Nicole Nimri, project manager at Slow factory, says you might want to gift it to friends and family, because what doesn't work for you might be a great fit for someone else. “This allows us to test new products all together and avoid throwing them away,” says Nimri.

3. Get creative by reusing

Jazmine Rogers, founder of Enduring villain, says that when a product doesn't quite fit its intended purpose, she starts to think outside the box. “When I first tried curly hair care products, I found that the products I didn't like for my hair were great as a body wash,” she says. “Even for makeup, if a lipstick looks better on my cheek, everything is interchangeable.” There are many useful substitutes: using eye shadow as a highlighter, leftover serums as hand creams, bronzer as eye shadow, and facial oils as hair oil. The list goes on. (TikTok is also a useful resource in this regard.) But before using a product in an unconventional way, always make sure to do a patch first to check for a possible negative reaction. And never place anything too close to the eyes that is not eye safe.

4. Donate unused or barely used products

For unopened and unused products (and some used products), consider dropping them off at your local women's shelter. Each charity and shelter has a different policy on accepting used beauty products, so call your local center first and check theirs before dropping off a box. You can also try an email service, like Beauty Project Share, which accepts products that are at least three-quarters full. Don't expect your half-used mascaras, expired products or opened jars to be accepted: they can pose a health risk if shared.

4. Find a take-back or recycling program

When you manage to empty a shampoo bottle or hit a pan on your blush palette, it's time to recycle. Léa Thomasauthor of The intersectional environmentalist and program director Land Sessionssays she discovered that many of her favorite beauty brands (like Bare minerals) offer take-back programs for their own products. Look for similar programs, like those from Brilliant Recipe, PharmacyAnd Ilya – and consider purchasing from those who do to avoid future waste.

But if you are looking to recycle items from several brands, THE BEAUTY CYCLE from Nordstrom is a good one-stop option. They accept empty bottles, tubes, caps, dispensers, containers and pallets of all cosmetic brands, even those you didn't purchase at Nordstrom. You simply drop off your empties (no aerosol cans, perfume or nail polish bottles) in their in-store collection bins.

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