How to Donate Your Barely-Used Beauty Products

makeup drawer
Hiroshi Watanabe / Getty Images

It's happened to all of us: we buy a beauty product that's just "meh." We abandon it to a beauty drawer where now it's rolling around among other such products, reminding us of the $$ we spent -- and lost. What to do with beauty products you just don't have a need for?

Simple: you go all Marie Kondo on your products and get rid of them either by donating them, selling them or swapping them. 

Here's how to do it.

 

First: Clean Out Your Beauty Drawer

The idea of getting rid of things that aren't useful and don't "spark joy" is trendy at the moment inspired by Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Typically, you're meant to get rid of clutter and clothing you no longer love, but we would argue this extends to your beauty products as well. It's a good idea to get rid of the powders and lotions and potions and soaps and freebies you've collected from hotels and will never, ever use at least once a year. 

Here's how to do it:

  • Start by dumping every beauty product you own on an empty table.
  • Have 3 bins at the ready: one for trash, one for donation and one to keep. 
  • Put every item on that table in one of the bins. 

 Only keep the items you love or use on a regular basis. The rest has to go. 

What to Swap, Donate or Sell & What to Toss

Unless you are giving products to your friends, who don't care where your fingers have been, it's best to consider these guidelines when donating, selling or tossing a beauty product:

What to toss: Toss mascaras, creams or lotions that come in a bottle and that require you to dip your hand in them and toss anything that's been more than 50% used. 

What to sanitize: Hairbrushes, makeup brushes, lipsticks, eyeliners, lipliners and brow liners can all be sanitized. Clean your brushes thoroughly in warm water mixed with dish detergent.

Run a Q-tip dipped in alcohol over your lipstick. Sharpen any pencils (think lip, eye, brow). 

So now what to do with them?

Give Them Away to a Friend or Family Member

Friends and family members are the easiest people to give your used products to because they know and love you and don't care where your hands have been. 

Donate Them

Not all charity organizations and homeless shelters will accept used beauty lotions and potions.

We recommend calling first to see if they will accept gently or never used products. I contacted a local women's shelter to see if they would accept products from me and the manager I spoke to said, "Bring it on!" And when Superstorm Sandy hit the NYC area in October 2012, I brought a box of beauty products to Brooklyn's Armory, where 100s of people were sheltering during the storm. The items I brought were snapped up and I like to think getting some very nice goods for free cheered up a few people who lost a lot in the storm. 

Give Them Away for Cash Donations

During Superstorm Sandy, a fellow beauty writer set up shop on her Park Slope sidewalk giving away tons of her beauty products for cash donations, which she then gave to a local charity set up to help Sandy victims.

She set up a folding table, invited her many beauty friends to join in and then spent the weekend giving away amazing stuff. She collected a few thousand dollars from her "event" which she then donated. 

Sell Them

Glambot is a company that will buy your unloved or unused products, sanitize them and then sell them for you. 

Swap Them

You've heard of clothing swaps -- where a group of friends gather together with unwanted clothing items their friends may want? Why not include beauty items in your next one?

You can also head online. Swapidu is an ingenius Website that allows you to swap beauty products. You list what you have to swap, include what you are interested in (eyeshadows, for example) and what you're not and then wait for people to reach out to you. You can also reach out to people who have what you want.