No matter if your motivation is to protect the environment, help people in need, or simply earn free products for yourself, there are many great reasons to recycle empty containers!
Your beauty and personal hygiene routines are essential to feeling and looking your best, but the unique packaging may present a recycling challenge. Fortunately there are many places where your skincare, haircare, nailcare, and cosmetic product containers can find new life after you are finished with them!
Continue reading to learn more about how you can return old containers for benefits like free products, donate old mascara wands to help wildlife, or donate gently used products to women-in-need (perfect for things that didn’t work out, color experiments gone wrong, or free samples you just don’t want).
Recycle Beauty & Personal Containers to Get Rewards!
This list of cosmetic companies includes those who will reward you for recycling your containers with them. Take advantage of free products, discounts, and loyalty points!
Empty full-sized makeup and skincare products from any brand are accepted as part of the bareMinerals Give Back Get Back Recycling Program. FAB Program Members are eligible to participate in bareMinerals Give Back Get Back Recycling Program at all participating bareMinerals boutique locations, as a way to earn 5 FAB pointsfor every empty item brought in to participating bareMinerals boutiques (no purchase necessary).
Read more about the program at bareminerals.com/terms-conditions-fab.
2. Burt’s Bees
There are 2 ways to recycle your used Burt’s Bees containers! Either bundle your empties in groups of at least 3 and request a prepaid label to send directly back to Burt’s Bees for recycling. While this is a great option to have, you will not receive any incentive for doing so.
Alternatively, you may choose to send your Burt’s Bees recycling to Terracycle to earn points! Shipments over 1 lb receive 100 TerraCycle points / pound (shipments under 1 lb do not earn points but can still be sent back for recycling).
Colgate has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for oral care product packaging. Shipments over 2 lbs receive 100 TerraCycle points / pound (shipments under 2 lb do not earn points but can still be sent back for recycling).
EOS has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for eos lip, lotion, and shave packaging. Shipments over 1 pound receive 100 TerraCycle points / pound (shipments under 1 lb do not earn points but can still be sent back for recycling).
5. Everyday Minerals
Trade your empties for free blush! Send back 8 large empty jars (Base, Face, or Cheek), and you will receive your choice of an Everyday Minerals blush for free!
Garnier has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for empty Garnier containers with a TerraCycle® logo. Shipments over 10 lbs receive 2 TerraCycle points / unit (shipments under 10 lbs do not earn points but can still be sent back for recycling).
7. Herbal Essences
Herbal Essences has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for Herbal Essences hair care packaging. Shipments can be any size to earn points — you will earn 100 TerraCycle points per pound of recycled waste.
Take advantage of the Innisfree Eco recycling program and recycle up to 5 bottles a month. You’ll receive 50 loyalty points per full-size bottle. In-store only.
9. Josie Maran
Josie Maran Cosmetics has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for Josie Maran Cosmetics packaging. Shipments can be any size to earn points — you will earn 100 TerraCycle points per pound of recycled waste.
10. Kiehl’s Since 1851
Recycle full-size Kiehl’s products to receive a stamp (deluxe samples & complimentary products can be returned for recycling but do not receive a stamp). Customers will also receive one recycle count when using a Kiehl’s tote bag while shopping in a Kiehl’s retail location. Ten stamps earn a free 2.5oz travel-size product.
11. Lip Ink
Send in any four (4) empty full sized LIP-INK® vials and you can choose any LIP-INK Liquid Lip Color for FREE along with FREE domestic shipping. Limit 1 per customer per year (must purchase an additional item). Note that you may to send in any number of vials for recycling but only 4 vials will be credited towards free LIP-INK® lip color.
12. L’Occitane en Provence
Bring back (to stores) your empty, full-sized product from L’OCCITANE (or any beauty brand) and receive 10% off a FULL-SIZED product! Accepted waste includes:
- Beauty packaging such as lip balm tubes, makeup remover bottles and pumps, fragrances bottles and pumps, and deodorant sticks
- Skin care packaging such as face mask packaging, refill pouches, and dispensers and tubes for soap, facial cleansers and body lotions
- Hair care packaging such as pumps and caps from shampoo and conditioner bottles, hair care dispensers and containers, hair product trigger heads, and refill pouches
13. Lush USA
Bring back 5 empty, clean black LUSH pots to your local shop for recycling and receive a free Fresh face mask!
14. MAC Cosmetics
Earn free lipstick with the Back To M·A·C Program! Simply return six (6) M·A·C primary packaging containers to a M·A·C counter or M·A·C Cosmetics Online, and receive a free M·A·C Lipstick of your choice (VIVA GLAM Lipsticks and Lipglass can be recycled but do not count towards free gift).
Origins recycles cosmetic empties from any brand, everyday. You will earn 25 loyaly points each time you drop-off your cosmetic empties (once per month) at participating locations.
16. Pacifica Beauty
Pacifica has partnered with Preserve to create an easy to use recycling program. Send your empty products with a pre-paid shipping label in an envelope, box, or bag of your choice. You will recieve 100 loyalty points for your recycled products (limit 100 points per month)!
The BEST news is that your product moves from being garbage to having a new life! Check out Preserve’s products here!
Schmidt’s Naturals has an easy recycling program that rewards you with a free product! Recycle 5 products, get 1 free! Simply, empty five of their sustainable glass jars, ship them back for free, receive a free deodorant of your choice!
18. Skyn ICELAND
Send your qualifying used skyn ICELAND jars, tubes, bottles and packaging. You pay the shipping, receive a bonus offer on skynICELAND.com to receive $10 off every $40 you spend on skynICELAND.com.
19. Tom’s of Maine
Josie Maran Cosmetics has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for Josie Maran Cosmetics packaging. Shipments over 4 lbs earn 2 TerraCycle points / unit (shipments under 4 lbs do not earn points but can still be sent back for recycling).
Welleda has partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for Herbal Essences hair care packaging. Shipments can be any size to earn points — you will earn 100 TerraCycle points per pound of recycled waste.
Zoya offered a discount for recycling old nail polish bottles during April as part of an Earth Day promotion. Although this promotion is now expired, keep an eye out each year for future Earth Day promotions.
NOTE: Previously, there were recycling programs available at Aveda and Stowaway Cosmetics, but as of article posting time, these programs appear to have been discontinued.
Other Empty Container Recycling Programs
It’s still a great idea to recycle empty containers — even if you won’t be incintivized to do so. Here are programs that help you to recycle unwanted and empty items.
Your old mascara wands can help wildlife when used to remove fly eggs and larva from the fur of animals (they work great because the bristles are so close together). Donations are accepted twice a year (in October and February). Learn more about #smallbrushbigimpact at AppalachianWild.org and mail your cleaned mascara wands during their donation window.
2. Gillette & Venus Razors
Recycle all brands of blades and razors through this program via TerraCycle.
3. Lilah B.
Send an Email to Lilah B. to receive a prepaid return shipping label allowing you to send us your unwanted beauty products – lilah b. or otherwise.
4. LimeLife by Alcone
Recycle all LimeLife by Alcone skincare and cosmetics packaging, such as face cleanser bottles and pumps, facial oil bottles and caps, custom cosmetics palettes, sunscreen tubes and caps, and face mask jars via TerraCycle.
5. Malin + Goetz
All Malin + Goetz packaging is recyclable and most is biodegradable. Empty products can be dropped at either of their NYC stores, and the company will ensure the products are taken to a recycling center.
6. P&G Soft Packs (Dawn, Old Spice, Olay)
Recycle Old Spice, Olay, and Dawn Soft Packs through this program via TerraCycle.
Where to Donate Gently Used (Non-Empty) Items
We all share the experience of trying out a new product, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work out. I’ve had this happen with just about every product type out there (shampoo, makeup, nail polish, moisturizer, etc). While it’s great to sample the latest and greatest products, it stinks to feel wasteful when you don’t finish the bottle!
Enter the solution: Project Beauty Share!
Project Beauty Share is a charitable organization that accepts gently used items and gives them to women-in-need. Check online for more information about what Project Beauty Share accepts including items like these:
- Barely Used Makeup
- Facial Cleansers & Moisturizers
- Body Lotion & Sunscreen (more than 1/2 full)
- Shampoo & Conditioner (more than 1/2 full)
- Clean or New Makeup Brushes
- Perfume & Body Sprays
- Hair Styling Products & Tools
- Clean Makeup Bags
Donations can be dropped off at dozens of locations in Washington and Idaho, or can be mailed from anywhere to: Project Beauty Share, 2718 E. Sprague, Spokane, WA 99202
You may have noticed the TerraCycle program was frequently mentioned as a partner for many of the above companies. This is a great resource for recycling many different, non-standard products (not just beauty and personal care items). Visit the TerraCycle website to learn more about earning discounts or points for recycling.
Eliminating the Idea of Waste® by recycling the “non-recyclable.” Whether it’s coffee capsules from your home, pens from a school, or plastic gloves from a manufacturing facility, TerraCycle can collect and recycle almost any form of waste. We partner with individual collectors such as yourself, as well as major consumer product companies, retailers, manufacturers, municipalities, and small businesses across 20 different countries. See website for specific programs from these brands and more:
In addition to all the places to recycling your old beauty containers, you may also be interested in learning more about how to be rewarded for recycling household container waste, recycling old clothing items & shoes, and recycling old electronics.