How to Recycle Your Used Beauty Products

by Сашка

Recycling empty beauty products is tricky business. It turns out that recycling most skincare and makeup packaging can be a little more complicated than just tossing them into your blue bin. Due to their size and multi-material composition, all those tubes, bottles, and jars in your medicine cabinet need to be properly processed in order to recycle—if they’re recyclable at all. We’ve created a handy guide to recycling beauty packaging so you can reduce waste and keep your empties out of the landfill.

Note: Recycling programs vary by location—use the article below as a guide, but be sure to check your local regulations. You can use resources like EARTH911 and Keep America Beautiful to check what recyclables are accepted in your area.

What can be recycled at home

These items below can usually be added to your recycling bin—if the cap is removed and they’re rinsed completely clean of any product.* To make sure that your packaging is free of residue, you may need to carefully cut it open and rinse it out.

How to Recycle Your Used Beauty Products

  • .#1, #2 and #5 plastic containers that are larger than a yogurt cup**

  • Metal jars and bottles

  • Metal tubes

  • Clear or frosted glass bottles and jars

  • Cardboard boxes and paper

  • Aerosol cans

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*If the cap and the container are made of the same material (i.e., a plastic jar with a plastic cap), rinse them clean, reattach them, and drop them in your recycling bin.

**#5 plastic isn’t accepted in some recycling programs—check your local guidelines to be sure.

What goes in the trash

These types of packaging are most likely not recyclable.

How to Recycle Your Used Beauty Products

  • Sponges

  • Brushes

  • Single-use wipes

  • Plastic or foil safety seals

  • Nail polish*

  • .#3, #4, #6 and #7 plastic containers

*Nail polish should be disposed of through your local hazardous waste facility.

What to recycle through a program like Pact or TerraCycle

These organizations process hard-to-recycle packaging to keep it out of a landfill. Check their websites for more information about their programs. Some beauty brands (like ILIA and Indie Lee) offer free in-house recycling for their products.

How to Recycle Your Used Beauty Products

  • Caps from bottles, tubes, and jars

  • Squeezable tubes

  • Dropper caps

  • Containers smaller than a yogurt cup

  • Pumps, misters, and dispensers

  • Lipstick and lip balm bullets

  • Lip gloss, concealer, and liquid shadow tubes

  • Non-wooden eye, lip, and brow pencils

  • Mascara tubes

  • Compacts and palettes

  • Colored glass bottles and jars

  • Deodorant sticks

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How to Recycle Your Used Beauty Products

Illustrations by Megan Badilla.

Originally published August 30, 2022.

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