Unfortunately for beauty-lovers, gently-used makeup isn’t the same as pre-worn shoes or clothing. Although gently-used products aren’t the easiest to re-home, there are quite a few ways to donate or sell sanitized products that are still in good condition.
Please keep reading to discover what types of beauty products can be easily cleaned and donated or re-homed.
What Types of Beauty Products Can Be Easily Re-Homed?
Unused Makeup | As someone who buys a lot of makeup, I’m sad to say that I’ve purchased things I’ve never swatched or even used on my face. I wish I could say that I was better with making returns, but sadly the makeup lover in me typically holds onto products past their return date. Unused Makeup can easily be sold, donated, or given to friends and family because there are no sanitation concerns.
Gently Used Makeup | Re-homing gently used makeup is a controversial topic due to sanitation concerns; however, I am not here to pass judgment on the ethical nature of selling used makeup. Generally speaking, most powder products (face powder, bronzer, blush, highlighter, and eyeshadow) can be sanitized and re-sold pending the product’s expiry date and condition. Personally, I define *gently used* as meaning a product was only swatched and/or worn on my face less than a handful of times.
Certain categories of products should NEVER be purchased used: lipgloss, lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, cream blush, cream bronzer, a cream highlighter and/or tubed and potted products, concealer, and foundations with wands or spatulas. These products cannot be properly sanitized and may spread bacteria and other harmful germs.
How to Sanitize Your Gently Used Beauty Products
Whether you’re trying to sell or buy gently used makeup, precautions need to be taken before using previously owned powder-based makeup. If desired, you may want to scrape off the top layer of your powder product using a sharp edge (but this is not necessary) given that the product is going to be sanitized. What you’ll need:
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Cotton Rounds or Cotton Swabs (for small eyeshadow pans)
Wet your cotton round with rubbing alcohol and dab the damp cotton round over the top layer of the product. This will make the product look darker and damp, but will not permanently change or damage the product. Once this is done, leave the product out to air dry. Once the product dries, it should be safe to use and safe to shut the product case.
If buying or selling anything with a brush, warm water and some soap (bar soap, dish soap, or shampoo) will be sufficient for cleaning brushes. I typically dampen my brush under warm water, add a tiny amount of soap to the palm of my hand, and thoroughly swirl my makeup brushes to remove any excess product or bacteria.
Again, because I do NOT recommend selling or buying cream-based products that are applied to the lips or eyes, I will NOT be sharing tips on how to sanitize those products.
Common Places to Donate Gently Used Beauty Products
Beauty Bus |Beauty Bus is a non-profit that focuses on providing NEW, UNUSED beauty products to terminally ill individuals. The aim of this charity is to enhance the quality of life for terminally ill individuals and their caregivers by providing at-home and pop-up treatments such as makeovers, hair appointment, and manicures, etc.
Beauty Bus accepts donations of new haircare, skincare, nail care, and makeup EXCLUDING razors, extractors, perfumes, deodorant, and makeup bags. All donated products must be new, sealed, and at least six months from its expiration date. Potential US donors may write off donations as tax deductions under the 501(c)(3) tax exemption EIN # 26-3075655.
Prospective donors must fill out this form and ship all product to:
Beauty Bus Foundation
2716 Ocean Park Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
In addition to accepting unused beauty items, Beauty Bus provides opportunities for both licensed beauty professionals and *beauty buddies* to volunteer. Beauty Professionals in need include professional makeup artists, nail technicians, estheticians, and hairstylists. Beauty Buddies can be anyone eighteen years or older who can accompany clients or caregivers to help bring a greater sense of normalcy.
Family & Friends | An obvious option, but friends and family with small beauty collections are typically appreciative of gently-used beauty products. I always ask my family and friends if they want any products I’ve stopped reaching for in my collection.
Local Women’s Shelters | Although many shelters cannot accept used makeup, some shelters do allow very gently used makeup donations.
Alternatively, local charities often look for volunteers to do free hair and makeup for special occasions such as Prom for girls and women who are in need. If you have a passion for doing makeup and helping others, you may consider sanitizing your gently used makeup and moving it to your makeup kit for professional use.
Project Beauty Share | Project Beauty Share is a well-known non-profit in the YouTube beauty community known for collecting and distributing personal hygiene, cosmetic, and beauty products to a network of non-profit organizations aimed at helping women and families overcoming addiction, abuse, homelessness, and poverty. They accept a variety of beauty items which can be donated online or via drop-off centers.
- Face Products: Moisturizer, Sunscreen, Masks, Eye Cream, Exfoliators, Cleansers, Primers (anything in a tub or pot must be new)
- Body Products: Deodorant, *Body Sprays, Body Lotions, Shower Gels, Bar Soaps*, Razors*, Sunscreen, Nail Polish* (any tubs or pots)
- Hair Products: Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Styling Products, Combs/Brushes*
- Hair Tools: Blow Dryer, Straighteners, Flat Iron, Curling Iron
- Oral Hygiene: Toothbrushes,* Toothpaste,* Mouthwash, * Dental Floss*
- Feminine Hygiene: Pads & tampons (loose individual items are accepted)
- Makeup: Makeup Brushes (Must be new or clean), Pressed Eyeshadow, Blush/Bronzers/Highlighters, Eyeliners, Mascara,* Lip Products,* Foundations (Airless Tube or Squeeze Tube Foundations only), Powder, Face primer
***Products with asterisks MUST BE NEW, UNOPENED, and UNUSED.
Project Beauty Share clearly outlines what gently used makeup items CANNOT be accepted (ex. anything with a wand, twist or push up liners, cream products, etc). Please visit their site for a full rundown of what products can and cannot be accepted. Donations can be shipped to:
Project Beauty Share®
2718 E. Sprague
Spokane, WA 99202
In addition to accepting product donations, Project Beauty Share looks for volunteers to help assist with event planning and promotion, as well as product sorting.
Wands for Wildlife | Unlike the other organizations included in this roundup, Wands for Wildlife specifically looks to collect cleaned, previously-used mascara wands! Wands for Wildlife uses mascara wands to clean fly eggs and larvae from wildlife that is in need. Not only does this charity help wildlife, but they help to repurpose old products that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill!
Before shipping out your used mascara wands, they must be cleaned in warm, soapy water to remove any mascara residue. Please note, Wands for Wildlife collects mascara wands twice a year during February and October.
In addition to accepting old mascara wands, Wands for Wildlife looks for other much-needed donations, which are listed here.
Common Places to Sell Gently Used Beauty Products
EBAY | eBay is the most widely-used re-selling website. EBAY makes it easy to list and sell items across the web.
Facebook Marketplace | Facebook Marketplace can be a great tool for selling gently-used makeup or for participating in makeup swaps. Unlike the other selling platforms on this list, Facebook Marketplace does not charge a fee for services.
Mercari | Mercari is quite similar to Poshmark and eBay in that the site is designed for reselling used items. However, Mercari’s flat 10% commission is lower than the cut that Poshmark takes from each sale.
Poshmark | Poshmark is a mobile-only, online marketplace for selling fashion and beauty finds. Poshmark takes a small commission from each sale made, but has a variety of features that make it easy to re-sell clothing and gently used makeup products. Higher-end brands tend to retain more of their retail value, while indie and drug store products (even when bundled) don’t typically sell as well.
Also, flammable items such as perfumes should not be sold or shipped via Poshmark due to USPS shipping restrictions on flammable items.
Although I would not purchase previously used makeup, it is possible to sanitize gently-used powder-based products for donation or resale. Again, as mentioned, professional makeup artists do use powder products across a variety of clients but are required to sanitize their makeup and use clean brushes. When buying gently used products online, buyers are taking sellers at their word.
For individuals who don’t live near prominent makeup stores like Ulta or Sephora, or for those who may not have the funds to drop on prestige or luxury makeup, gently used products can make beauty more accessible.
Have you heard of any of these charities before? What do you think about selling Gently Used Makeup? Have you bought or sold gently used makeup before? Please let me know in the comments below.