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 for 9 ways to sell or donate used makeup.
What Types of Beauty Products Can Be Easily Sold or Donated?
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.
I wish I could say that I was better with making returns. Sadly the makeup hoarder in me typically holds onto products past their return date. However, unused Makeup can easily be sold, donated, or given to friends and family because there are no sanitation concerns.
However, selling or donating used makeup is a controversial topic. There are obvious sanitation concerns. First, I need to state that 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. If an item can be sanitized and is not expired, it may possibly be re-sold.
Note: I define *gently used* as meaning a product was only swatched and/or worn on the 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 Gently Used Beauty Products
Whether you’re trying to sell or buy gently used makeup, precautions need to be taken. First, you may want use a sharp edge to scrape off the top layer of your powder product. However, given that the product is going to be sanitized, scraping the product may not be needed. What you’ll need:
Cotton Rounds or Cotton Swabs (for small eyeshadow pans)
Wet your cotton round with rubbing alcohol. Then, dab the damp cotton round over the top layer of the product. This will make the product look dark and damp. However, it will not permanently damage the product. Leave the product out to air dry. Once the product dries, it should be safe to use the product.
Warm water and soap (bar soap, dish soap, or shampoo) are sufficient for cleaning brushes. First, dampen the brush under warm water. Next, add a tiny amount of soap to the palm of the hand. Last, thoroughly swirl the makeup brushes to remove any excess product.
Again, I do NOT recommend selling or buying cream-based products. Therefore, I will NOT be sharing tips on how to “sanitize” those products.
Common Places to Donate Gently Used Beauty Products
1 | Beauty Bus
Beauty Bus is a non-profit that focuses on providing NEW, UNUSED beauty products to terminally ill individuals. Moreover, the aim of this charity is to enhance the quality of life for terminally ill individuals and their caregivers. Beauty Bus accomplishes this 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. However, the charity does not accept razors, extractors, perfumes, deodorant, or 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 include professional makeup artists, nail technicians, estheticians, and hairstylists. Beauty Buddies is anyone eighteen years or older who can accompany clients or caregivers to help bring a greater sense of normalcy.
2 | 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.
3 | Local Women’s Shelters
Although many shelters cannot accept used makeup, some shelters allow very gently used makeup donations.
Also, local charities often look for volunteers to do free hair and makeup for special occasions. This provides a great opportunity for people who are passionate about makeup to give back to the community. Consider sanitizing your gently used makeup and moving it to your professional makeup kit for occasions like this!
4 | Project Beauty Share
Project Beauty Share is a well-known non-profit in the YouTube beauty community. They are known for collecting and distributing personal hygiene, cosmetic, and beauty products.
Once Project Beauty Share receives a product, they distribute the product to a network of non-profit organizations aimed at helping women and families in need. Moreover, Project Beauty Share accepts a variety of beauty items that 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)
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.
5 | 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. Not only does this charity help wildlife, but the charity repurposes products bound for landfills!
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
6 | EBAY
eBay is the most widely-used re-selling website. EBAY makes it easy to list and sell items across the web.
7 | Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is 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.
9 | Mercari
Mercari is quite similar to Poshmark and eBay. For example, 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.
9 | Poshmark
Poshmark is a mobile-only, online marketplace for selling fashion and beauty finds. Poshmark takes a 10-20% commission from each sale.
The app’s variety of features make it easy to re-sell clothing and gently used makeup products. Higher-end brands tend to retain more of their retail value. In comparison, indie and drug store products (even when bundled) don’t typically sell as well.
Flammable items such as perfumes should not be sold or shipped via Poshmark. USPS shipping restrictions prohibit the sale of flammable items. Read more about what it takes to start a successful Poshmark business.
Is it Ethical to Sell or Donate Used Makeup?
Although I do 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 use powder products across a variety of clients. However, they are required to sanitize their makeup and use clean brushes.
When buying gently used products online, buyers are taking sellers at their word. Be cautions when considering purchasing makeup from Poshmark or Mercari. Aside from potential sanitation issues, some buyers purposely jack up the prices of products beyond the regular selling price.
I do not pass judgement on anyone who wants to sell or donate used makeup. If the product is in good condition, it is better to re-home the item than to toss it in a trash bin.
Also, gently used products can make prestige beauty more accessible to individuals who don’t have the means to pay the steep price tag.