Some lipstick manufacturers encourage customers to return empty tubes by mail.

How to Throw Away Old Cosmetics

by Mimi Bullock

Purchasing mistakes, changing skin tones and lapses in expiration dates can leave you with a drawer full of unwanted makeup. However, before you toss that expired or unwanted product, you should consider the eco-toxological effects you may trigger. Some waste water-treatment plants have a difficult time breaking down personal care products to safe levels. Even an innocent-looking tube of lipstick can contain petrochemicals that contaminate groundwater. Since cosmetics do expire, you should throw them away when necessary; but purge your vanity table safely.

Write the purchase date on the product with a permanent marker to track the expiration. Powder-based products last two to three years and do not need to be tossed as frequently. Lipsticks and liners remain good for one to two years, but eye products need replacing every few months. If your product comes with a visible expiration date, it's better to follow the suggested date.

Pour all unwanted liquid makeup into one jar to control potential landfill leaching.

Make sure the lid fits tightly. Place the product in your household garbage can for disposal. If you prefer, contact your area's household-hazardous waste program for specific directions on packaging leftover cosmetics. Some stations have drop off locations available for green customers.

Items you will need

  • Permanent marker


  • Going forward, buy biodegradable, natural makeup products for a more eco-friendly approach to beauty.


  • Flushing toiletries down the toilet can lead to soil and water contamination.

About the Author

Mimi Bullock's writing reflects her love of traveling the back roads of small towns and sampling the local cuisine. As a regular feature writer for "Southern Hospitality Traveler" and journalist for "Beachin' Magazine," she gets to experience the rich heritage of the southern culture. She is also a licensed cosmetologist who has her own skin care line.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images