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March 31, 2022

5 Ways to Responsibly Recycle Your Beauty and Skincare Empties

With Earth Day just around the corner, were looking for more ways to do right by Mother Earth. We did some research on how beauty consumers can still enjoy all the products we love and be kind to the planet. One place to start? Responsibly disposing of our used makeup and skincare empties.

While we fully endorse stocking up on beauty (we are Birchbox after all), the truth is, some cosmetic products contain chemicalssuch as parabens, notorious preservatives, and triclosan, often found in makeup and skincarethat can cause damage to the environment when theyre carelessly tossed in the trash.

An easy first step toward responsible beauty is to diligently recycle our cosmetics and skincare products.
Read on for five simple yet impactful eco-friendly tricks to pick up this Earth Day and beyond.

1. Wipe out liquid or cream containers with a paper towel.
Liquid foundation, concealer, skin and eye cream, and perfume bottles will have residue left in them, even after youve used whats visible to the eye. Using a paper towel or tissue, wipe the inside of the containers to remove any lingering residue, and toss the paper towel in the trash.
Try not to pour liquid or cream-based makeup or fragrances down the drain. The harsh chemicals they contain can get into waterways and harm living things.

2. Put leftover makeup in a sealed bag.
If your makeup has gone bad but theres still some cream or powder in there, dump out the excess into a sealable plastic bag. Then, put the bag in the trash. Putting the makeup in a sealed bag helps prevent the chemicals from seeping into the ground.

Pro tip: How do you know if makeup is expired? Look for an open jar symbol with a number, followed by the letter M. This tells you how many months the product can be safely used after opening. For instance, 6M means that product can be used for up to six months after opening. If theres no indication on the package, use the smell test. If it smells rancid or off, its time to toss.

3. Find out who wants your empties.
Many big brands and retailers have programs where you can bring in your empty makeup containers to be recycled. Check with your local beauty retailer to see which containers theyll take back and how to recycle them.
Heres a list of some beauty brands that we know have recycling programs:
- Khiels
- The Bodyshop
- Maybelline
- L'Oral
- Garnier
- bareMinerals
- Lush
- Pacifica

4. Put empty plastic or glass containers in your recycling bin.
Good news: Eyeshadow palettes, powder compacts, perfume bottles and glass containers can all be placed in the recycling bin. Just make sure the packages are clean and dont have any residual makeup left in them.

Unfortunately, mascara and lipstick tubes are not recyclable, even if theyre made of plastic. Their containers are usually too small to be cleaned out properly for recycling. Toss these and makeup pencils in the garbage.

Each municipality has different recycling requirements, so its always best to check with your city or town to find out what s safe to put in your recycling bin. Find out your location's policies at

5. Know when to get trashy.
For those items that cant be recycled, like plastic makeup containers, toss them in the trash.
Pro tip: Keep all the lids and seals fastened to reduce the chance of chemicals seeping out into the ground when they get to the landfill.

Follow us on Instagram and stay tuned to The Mag all month long for more tips and educational content to help take care of the Earth. Plus, well introduce you to some of our favorite brands you can feel good about shopping this Earth Day and all year long.


Jac Wray

While a self-described social butterfly, I find empowerment in my independence. Taking myself on a spur of the moment solo vacation, dinner dates to new restaurants or parts of the city where my company is solely the characters in the book I bring, visiting the local bar and getting to know the bartenders over a glass of wine… or 3. I find that intimate moments with myself leave me feeling brave, confident, and empowered to take on the world without depending on anything else as a buffer. It also gives me time to reflect, plan, journal and explore new places at my own pace.