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How To Recycle Your Makeup

Posted by Jill Rossini on

How To Upcycle and Recycle Your Makeup

Do you ever think about how wasteful it is to throw away your cosmetics or cosmetic containers? Do you want to reduce your environmental impact? If you said yes, you are not alone. If you use a plentitude of makeup and skincare products, all that plastic and glass has to go somewhere after we've lovingly used up our favorite products. It's too convenient to chuck empty containers and broken makeup directly into the trash.

Falling Short On Recycling

Even if we are avid recyclers, for some reason, when it comes to our daily beauty regime, we often fall short on recycling their containers. Some feel the small amount of packaging doesn't create much difference in the scope of things. However, small beauty product packaging adds to an already exploding landfill problem in the United States. For skincare products alone, slightly over 30% of consumers recycle personal care product packaging out of the nearly 50% that know they can. There isn't much research on why our thought process on recycling changes in the steps from the powder room to the kitchen.

A Problem With Chemicals

We admit recycling is a complex process, significantly when the packaging doesn't fall within standard recyclables guidelines, like chemicals. When it comes to recycling makeup, we're not just talking about the growing packaging issue that's a considerable danger to the environment. Beauty products contain chemicals. What do we do when we break an eyeshadow palette or compact? We flush the broken pieces or rinse them down the sink, adding to the buildup of chemicals in the waterways, which is also a growing problem in the United States. Later in the post, we'll take a look at an innovative little company called FIXY that helps with that very issue and much more. First, let's talk packaging.

Recycling Beauty Product Packaging

The beauty industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business. All that product comes in its little packaging and sometimes multiple pieces of cardboard inserts, plastic wrapping, a box, and finally, the bottle, tube, or jar. We're talking just about purchasing an item off the shelf. We're a shop-at-home culture, and that's skyrocketed considerably in the months following the onset of the pandemic. In addition to the product packaging, we have the delivery packing.

Here are a few tips to make makeup containers and packaging recycling easier:

Ensure Cleanliness- Just as with any other type of recycling, your cosmetic containers should be completely clean, removing all the product from your containers before placing them out for them for recycling.

Get Creative- If you’re clever, you know how to give old cosmetics containers new life, like little travel companions to carry small doses of a product, cases for pins or jewelry, containers for medications, and even art projects. Elementary schools sometimes take containers for art projects or organizing student supplies.

Curbside Pickup or Local Recycling Centers- If reusing old containers isn't your thing, send them for recycling along with the other plastics, metals, and glass. Check your local government website for guidelines and restrictions for your community. Even small dropper bottles, lipstick tubes, and eye shadow containers are often made from plastic #5, a primarily recyclable material. Pouches and squeezable tubes as well as the pump and droppers usually can’t be recycled. When in doubt throw it out. We know that your heart is in the right place but mistakes end up causing more issues down the line at recycling plant.

Drop-off at a retail store - Not only consumers recycle, but the beauty brands and retail stores got into the movement too. Some makeup retailers now take back used cosmetics containers for recycling. This list grows and changes regularly. Also, some store locations have set hours when they run their programs and rules on the items they accept. Do your research, so you don't drive up with an armful of empty tubes, bottles, and jars only to get turned away.

Mail It In- Some makeup retailers now offer mail-in programs for cosmetics, packaging, or both, a viable option for consumers without curbside or drop-off services. Currently, some programs accept hair, skin, and cosmetics product packaging. Accepted items include but are not limited to lotion dispensers, hairspray caps, lipstick cases, gel tubes, eyeliner pencils, mascara tubes, compacts, palettes, foundation bottles, concealer tubes, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and coinciding caps. This is an opportunity to reuse that Amazon box that you were going to recycle anyway.

Beauty Brand Trade-In- Some of the most well-known beauty brands now have a trade-in program for their empty containers. Typically you receive free products or get a percentage off your next order. These incentive programs help the brand, the earth, and the consumer. Everyone wins.

Here is a shortlist of beauty brands, complete with a link to information on their trade-in programs:

  1. MAC: Back to MAC
  1. Kiehl’s: Skincare Rewards Loyalty Program
  1. Pacifica: Pacifica Preserve
  1. Aveda: Full Circle Recycling program
  1. bareMinerals:  Give Back, Get Back Recycling Program

New Ideas for your Expired Powders

Cos Watercolours in the UK has developed a method for transforming eyeshadow palettes into distinctive paints for water colorists which will add a “cosmic shimmer” to their artwork. There are also some amazing Youtube tutorials that show you how to turn your makeup paint. Just glue and go.

The FIXY Makeup Difference

FIXY is the first company that helps you upcycle and recycle your powdered makeup products. The FIXY kit allows you to fix vs toss your broken makeup as well as reuse existing makeup by creating new colors. Revamping makeup in this way saves you money and saves the planet. The founders designed the kit with no single-use plastics. Everything can be washed and reused time and time again. Refill parts can be ordered in minimal packaging and your order is sent using packing materials sourced from recycled material donated within their community.


You can upcycle and recycle your makeup within minutes and use it right away, no waiting. FIXY stands behind their product with your satisfaction and happiness guaranteed. If you are not 100% happy with their kit, they refund your purchase with no questions. The process is simple, and FIXY includes step-by-step instructions in each kit, including a fun section for mixing colors. It’s so easy, that the kit passed testing with the youngest of kids.


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