Toxic Cosmetics: Should you throw old makeup in the trash?

Published on January 26th, 2015 | by

Toxic Cosmetics: Should you throw old makeup in the trash?

We write a lot about ditching your toxic cosmetics in favor of safer alternatives, but how should you dispose of them? Can you just toss them into the trash?

Related: How to Fix Broken Eye Shadow

According to a recent piece that Lisa Forher shared over at The Good Human, throwing your old, toxic cosmetics into the bin isn’t the best way to dispose of them. Forher explains that cosmetics that contain chemicals like parabens, BPA, 1,4 Dioxane pollute the land and water surrounding landfills just like any other toxic waste.

The U.S. Geological Survey calls the mix of chemicals that accumulates under landfills leachate. Leachate is made up of more than 130 hazardous chemicals, some of which are found in toxic cosmetics. In fact, leachate is such a problem that Environmental Working Group spokesperson Samantha Geller says that if “the ingredients aren’t egregious,” it’s better to use up toxic cosmetics than to throw them in the trash. Wow.

So, what should you do if the ingredients are egregious? Forher offers two disposal methods:

1. Find a hazardous waste facility. Earth 911 is my go-to for finding local resources like this. They have a huge database of recycling and waste disposal facilities. This is the best way to get rid of toxic cosmetics.

2. Throw them out. If you don’t have access to hazardous waste disposal, she says to consolidate all of your toxic cosmetics into one large plastic container, close that container, and throw it away. So, if you’re tossing eye shadow, lipstick, and lotion, put everything into the lotion bottle. Clean out the other containers and either reuse them, recycle them, or throw them in the trash.

Forher suggests saving old cosmetic containers and using them to store your own DIY beauty products or bulk beauty products like Dr. Bronner’s soap, which some co-ops sell containerless.

Image Credit: Makeup photo via Shutterstock.


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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .
  • I strongly recommend contacting hazardous waste disposal company near your area for safe and right disposal. This is the best method I believe that should be done for hazardous wastes as they would greatly affect human and environmental health if not disposed and managed properly.