Eco-Friendly Ways: How to Dispose of Expired Cosmetics Sustainably

Table of Contents

Used makeup has to be handled with a lot of precaution. When products begin to peel apart or change color or acquire repulsive odors, it is very clear that they should not be used anymore.

Proper handling of these items is important since improper disposal leads to significant issues. Residues such as phthalates and parabens can settle on the ground and water, thus affecting the biochemical interactions of organisms and the environment.

Familiarity with how to dispose of expired cosmetics helps mitigate these risks.

When disposed of improperly, aerosol cans are capable of exploding in a landfill, which leads to fires and the release of toxic gasses.

Cosmetic products that contain microplastics are washed into water bodies, polluting water systems and marine life, and even entering the food chain.

Many people are unaware of these hidden dangers, making it vital to know how to dispose of expired cosmetics correctly.

So, in this particular discussion of the blog, let us find out more about ways to deal with cosmetics that have gone bad, how the packaging can be recycled, participating in community disposal programs, and using the containers for creative upcycling DIY projects.

What Happens When Cosmetics Expire?

Cosmetics expire because the elements used in making them are likely to deteriorate after some time. In the case of preservatives, protective abilities are gone, which allows bacteria and fungi to increase simultaneously.

Some oils can oxidize, and the ingredients can break down, diminishing the products’ efficacy and sometimes their safety.

Expired cosmetics can lead to skin rash, inflammation, and allergies because, once the product has expired, it is no longer safe to use.

For instance, when using old mascara, your eyes can become infected, and when you use foundation that has gone out of date, it can make your skin break out.

Another area of concern, which is often overlooked, is the degradation of two or more components.

For example, vitamin C becomes unstable and can cease to act as an antioxidant, or even the sunscreen may no longer offer protection against the sun.

Analyzing the problem, it is known that aerosol cans can explode in the landfill, which can lead to fires and the emission of toxic gasses.

Tiny beads and fragments of plastic from exfoliants disperse into water systems and endanger aquatic species and the food chain, which affects humans.

The production and packaging of cosmetics often involve non-renewable resources and contribute to carbon emissions.

Expert opinion: It is crucial to recognize that the disposal of expired cosmetics presents a significant environmental threat. From polluting water systems and marine life, to contributing to landfill fires and the release of toxic gasses, the improper disposal of these products can have far-reaching consequences.”

Knowing how to dispose of expired cosmetics properly can reduce these environmental impacts and promote sustainability in the beauty industry.

How to Identify Expired Cosmetics

It is important to notice which cosmetics have expired, as their usage might be harmful to health and the product might not work the best way it could.

Knowing how to dispose of expired cosmetics begins with recognizing when they are no longer safe to use.

Here are some specific signs and tips to help you determine if your cosmetics have expired:

Signs of Expired Cosmetics

Texture Changes

  • Separation: Lotion, liquid formulations such as foundation or cream may have layers that appear to be a different color.
  • Clumping: Mascara and some liquid eyeliners can get tacky, becoming so thick that they are unusable.
  • Dryness: Solid products, including lipsticks and eyeshadows, may become tough and tamper with the normal texture.

Smell Changes

  • Rancid Odor: Oily products like skincare creams, lotions, and sometimes ointments may develop a sour or rancid smell.
  • Chemical Smell: An unpleasant smell of chemicals in products can also be a sign that the ingredients in the product have reached their degradation point.

Color Changes

  • Fading: Some colors may wash off, desaturate, or transfer their colors, which is mostly observed with lipsticks and eyeshadows.
  • Discoloration: Makeup and creams could look and turn rather yellowish or brownish.

Tips for Checking Expiration Dates

Expiration Date

  • Printed Dates: On the wrapping, bottom, or side, there is a date, usually a number preceded by a marker. This stamp shows the point from which the product should not be consumed anymore.
  • Batch Codes: Some products have batch codes that consumers can use to look up the manufacturing details as well as the dates of expiration.

PAO (Period After Opening) Symbols

  • PAO Symbol: This sign appears like an open jar with a figure written in it (for example, 6M or 12M). It shows a number that tells us how many more months the product is still usable after opening it.
  • Tracking Opened Products: However, it is essential to identify the spot where the packaging has the PAO (Period After Opening) marking to know when exactly the product was opened and when the PAO expires.

Lesser-Known Indicators

Performance Issues

  • Reduced Effectiveness: Preventive measures such as sun creams and age-defying creams might find it challenging to deliver the same level of protection/benefit when they have reached expiration.
  • Consistency Changes: A new property in the feel of the product, such as an uncomfortably greasy stickiness or a watery fluidity, may signal expiration.

Packaging Changes

  • Leaking or Bulging: Packaging that starts to leak or bulge can be a sign that the product inside has spoiled.
  • Degraded Labels: If the label ink has started to fade or run, it might suggest that the product has been exposed to conditions that can speed up expiration.

Properly identifying expired products helps maintain the quality of your beauty routine and protects your health.

Understanding how to dispose of expired cosmetics once you’ve identified them ensures you minimize harm to yourself and the environment.

Sustainable Methods for How to Dispose of Expired Cosmetics

Sustainable Methods for How to Dispose of Expired Cosmetics

Setting up recycling boxes for cosmetic packaging is paramount since it can reverse and prevent the wastage of resources. When we recycle, it reduces the demand for raw materials, which in turn means that natural resources are not scarce and energy is also saved.

Some easily recyclable materials used for cosmetic packaging are glass jars and bottles, which are infinitely recyclable and whose quality does not deteriorate as they are used time and again.

Post-consumer plastics, like those contained in the packaging of beverages and foods, marked with the recycling symbol and code, can be recycled and used in making other products, even though not all kinds of plastics are recyclable.

Aluminum tubes and caps used in making vehicle parts are easily recyclable and are likely to contribute significantly to waste reduction.

One key issue in how to dispose of expired cosmetics is the contamination of recyclable materials by leftover product residue, which can hinder the recycling process. 

As per Sustainability Victoria To prevent smells and keep food or liquids from spilling onto other items, give your recyclables a quick rinse in old dishwashing or cooking water to save water. If the container has a lid, put a small amount of water inside, shake vigorously and empty before recycling.

This, in turn, means that containers need to be properly washed before being processed for recycling to ensure they are correctly recycled.

Many people are unaware of these hidden dangers, making it vital to understand how to dispose of expired cosmetics properly.

Participating in Community Disposal Programs

Participating in Community Disposal Programs

Community disposal programs are crucial in seeking to manage the disposal of expired cosmetics appropriately.

These programs, which may be locally administered by municipalities or environmental organizations, aim to let people know where they can bring their hazardous and other hard-to-recycle items, such as cosmetics.

It is quite easy, as you can look on the local government’s website or the websites of environmental organizations for the schedule and location of these programs.

Engagement in these programs provides meaningful and considerable environmental as well as societal gains. Sociopolitically, it also guarantees that the chemicals in the expired cosmetic products are neutralized safely to avoid polluting the soil and water sources.

From a social aspect, it actively encourages people to engage in the community and bring attention to adopting sustainable measures.

Moreover, it is interesting for many people to know that some programs involve promised rewards such as free product samples and products for recycling old ones at a discounted price.

Proper disposal through community programs helps build a cleaner, more responsible community. For more information on community initiatives, visit Happen Ventures’ community initiatives page. You can also find local disposal programs through directories like Earth911.

Getting to know how to dispose of expired cosmetics through these programs ensures that we protect our environment and foster community engagement.

Upcycling Containers into Creative DIY Projects

Upcycling cosmetic containers is a fantastic way to benefit the environment and spark personal creativity.

Mastering how to dispose of expired cosmetics through upcycling can reduce waste and give old containers a new life.

Instead of tossing them out, you can transform these containers into useful and decorative items, reducing waste and giving them a new life.

DIY Project Ideas

  • Plant Pots: Turn old jars and bottles into stylish planters. Simply clean the container, fill it with soil, and plant your favorite herbs or succulents.
  • Storage Jars: Use cleaned-out containers for organizing small items like beads, buttons, or office supplies.
  • Art Projects: Paint or decorate containers to create custom vases, candle holders, or desk organizers.

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Clean the Container: Ensure all residue is removed.
  • Prepare the Surface: Sand or prime if painting.
  • Decorate: Use paints, stickers, or fabric to customize.
  • Final Touches: Seal with a clear coat if needed.

Upcycling not only helps the environment but also adds a personal touch to your home decor.

The Role of Happen Ventures in Sustainable Cosmetic Disposal

The Beneficial Reuse program via Happen Ventures is revolutionizing the process of disposables and cosmetics disposal.

This program deals with the repurposing of unwanted yet still usable cosmetic products, preventing them from being dumped in the landfill and instead distributing them to needy populations.

Through collaborations with like-minded businesses, Happen Ventures correctly determines the overproduction or products with a short shelf life in cosmetics and then donates these goods to various nonprofits and community centers.

Happen Ventures accepts a wide range of cosmetic products, including:

  • Aftershaves and fragrances
  • Hairspray and hair products
  • Shampoos
  • Soaps
  • Aerosol deodorants
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Hair dyes
  • Hair removal creams
  • Suntan lotions

For businesses, this means a massive opportunity to drastically cut disposal costs along with tax incentives for donations. It also raises their ESG figures by indicating a company’s focus on sustainability and social responsibility.

For communities, it means access to essential cosmetic products that might otherwise be unaffordable.

Happen Ventures makes waste management and community support an opportunity for a win-win between enterprises and society.

By knowing how to dispose of expired cosmetics through programs like Happen Ventures’, we can significantly reduce environmental impact and support those in need.


How to dispose of expired cosmetics sustainably is crucial for protecting our environment and health. 

The practice of recycling, contributing to community collection, and donation opens up opportunities in the recycling of such materials, conserving resources. When combined effectively, these techniques can show substantial results.

For detailed guidance and resources, get in touch with Happen Ventures and explore how their Beneficial Reuse program can assist you in managing cosmetic waste responsibly. Let’s work together for a cleaner, greener future.


Happen Ventures makes it easy to give back by taking all the legwork out of donating your waste or overstocked items to the very community they are in.

Choose how would you like to get in touch with us:

Footer Get in Touch


We’ll get back to you as soon as possible (usually within a few hours during normal business hours).
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

scroll blue