How To Best Dispose of Toxic Beauty Products

Beyond clearing out products containing health-harmful ingredients and those well past their prime of efficacy, disposing of these product-lined bottles, jars and tubes responsibly is a logical next step. Right?

As you begin making the switch to non-toxic beauty products and do a cabinet detox, you’re likely to wind up with plenty of containers filled with remnants of carcinogenic and hormone disrupting ingredients. While your first instinct may be to rinse out and recycle these product-lined bottles, jars and tubes, doing so sends these toxic chemicals right into our surface water (as does using them on a daily basis, but thank goodness you’re done with that). We know that contaminating water is not what you had in mind so here are some better ways to dispose of beauty products, their containers and their contents as safely as possible.

Call or go online to find out if your local disposal center accepts cosmetics as household hazardous waste. Most provide specific drop-off times for cosmetics, medications, aerosols, paints, fluorescent bulbs, batteries and other hazardous products (notice the company your beauty products are keeping…). Bringing them here assures they’ll be disposed of wisely – whether through recycling, incineration, conversion to cement, pyrolysis (thermochemical decomposition), or placement in a hazardous waste landfill. This is the safest way to dispose of beauty products containing toxic, villain ingredients and prevent them from getting into our water and land.

  • Note: Lipstick made with lead or acrylates and nail polish should always be considered hazardous waste and never be thrown away in the trash or recycled and must always be disposed of through a hazardous waste program.

If you can’t dispose of beauty products directly through a local household hazardous waste program, try these next best solutions:

For bottles that can be completely emptied of their contents – remove as much of the product directly into the trash where it will go into a landfill. Do not rinse the bottle out, but you can take a paper towel and wipe it clean. If the bottle is plastic or glass you can recycle it afterward.

For bottles that cannot be completely emptied of their contents – throw the whole bottle into the trash, where it will go into a landfill. Do not rinse.


  • Jillian Wright

    This is so interesting. Everything is connected from start to finish. I also think people will consider the amount of products they use and try to minimize. You say to use a paper towel to wipe out the products from the bottles. It made me feel guilty about using a paper towel made from a tree! I think the message here is less is more and be conscious with hwat yo use. Ask yourself do you really need it and how much of an impact is it really going to make.

  • Thanks for your comment Jillian. Researching the details for this post was so interesting as once toxic ingredients are out there – there’s really nothing we can do about it but minimize the risk. We need to stop the demand for them. I agree with a paper towel….often times I will repurpose a paper towel and use it multiple times. I think I’d prefer to recycle any bottle I can and remove the contents into the trash….

    I wonder how many people/nail salons are taking their nail polish to the home hazardous waste center? Thanks again for helping share the Use Less. Love More. movement!

  • This is just helpful especially to those who have all of these stuffs with them or at home. Just a quick note though, if ever you’ve missed hazardous waste disposal events in your city run by the your city health agencies or what, there are a lot of hazardous waste disposal companies anyway that are very willing to help you out do the proper disposal. Just my two cents.

  • Thanks Cami – that is very helpful. We love having your 2 cents. Hero On!

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