Eco-Tips: How To Dispose of Old Lipstick Responsibly?

First remove the remaining product from the tube and then dispose of the tube in the trash. Consider recycling the lipstick container if it’s accepted by makeup recycling programs, and always ensure that the lipstick doesn’t contaminate other surfaces or waste streams.

It’s usually time to discard your old lipstick if it has expired, altered color, or odor. However, did you know that expired makeup products, including lipstick, are categorized as hazardous waste? So, it’s crucial to know how to safely dispose of your old makeup and lipstick if you want to cut down on waste and protect the environment.

In addition, you can also empty out the contents of your lipstick containers or other beauty products and recycle them.

Similar to expired makeup products, old lipstick can contain possibly harmful ingredients. Therefore, we recommend disposing of old makeup and lipsticks responsibly. The best way to do this is to put your used tubes in the trash and crush beauty products before they will be taken away.

You should also avoid transferring any lipstick residue on other surfaces. By knowing how to dispose of makeup products, especially lipstick you can help to keep our environment clean and safe!

Key Takeaways
  • Remove leftover lipstick before disposal.
  • Lipstick tubes are often recyclable.
  • Check for makeup recycling programs.
  • Wipe containers clean to avoid contamination.
  • Repurpose old lipstick for creative uses.

Old Lipstick

Generally, old lipstick refers to products that have reached their expiration date. Expired lipsticks may contain irritants and bacteria that cause itching in and around the mouth. So,  throw away your old lipstick after one to two years of use for safety.

However, these old lipsticks need a proper disposal as hazardous waste.

How To Dispose of Old Lipstick
What are Lipsticks Made of?

1. What are Lipsticks Made of? 

Wax, oil, and pigment are the three main components used in the majority of lipsticks. Let us give you a brief explanation about these ingredients that may be in your old lipsticks!

  • Wax. The main function of wax is to maintain the form of lipsticks or lip balm. Wax has a texture that keeps lip products on your lips longer. For liquid lipsticks like lip gloss, wax helps to retain a thick, sticky consistency so it doesn’t run or drip while being worn.
  • Oil. It is contribute to adding moisture on your old lipstick. The oils and fats used in lipstick include olive oil, mineral oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, lanolin, and petrolatum.
  • Pigment. Pigments are the chemicals added to materials to give them color. Its primary purpose is to make your lipstick look better or add their color.

2. Harmful Chemical In Lipstick

If you still insist on using old lipstick, you may feel itchy on your mouth area. Beside the bacteria, your old lipstick also contains harmful chemicals that may irritate your skin. If you have expired unused lipsticks, we don’t recommend you to use it as well.

Moreover, it’s important to check whether your lipstick contains harmful ingredients. Make sure you avoid harmful chemicals below!

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals, including lead, aluminum, chromium, and cadmium, have been found in lipstick ingredient lists. These harmful heavy metals can build up in our bodies with repeated use and prolonged exposure, which over time poses a multitude of concerns to our health.


Lanolin is part of oil ingredients that are contained in your lipstick. As the product expires, lanolin is harmful for your skin. It’s because lanolin has a complex composition and can easily cause allergic reactions like dryness, itchiness and pain.

Synthetic Antioxidants

Most widely used lipsticks contain the chemical chemicals BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), which serve as artificial antioxidants and preservatives. These two components may provide health hazards because they have been connected to hormone disruption, skin irritation, and disruption of the reproductive system.

Carcinogenic Pigments

You should avoid FD&C dyes that are made from coal tar, a petroleum byproduct. These pigments have high concentrations of lead and arsenic, both of which are proven carcinogens.

3. What does Using Expired Lipstick do?

If your lipsticks are beyond their expiration date, your skin might react to the chemicals on them. This could cause irritation or redness. Moreover, bacteria can quickly spread if they land on an open container, leading to breakouts or other diseases.

They also enter the body when you eat or drink while wearing lipstick and can give you stomach aches.

How To Dispose of Old Lipstick
Expired Lipstick

In addition, heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are both present in large amounts in lipsticks. You may also experience lead poisoning, renal failure, anemia, brain damage, and brain neuropathy from using outdated lipsticks.

4. How Many Lipsticks We are Using?

Normally, lipstick products are designed to be disposed of after a one time use. Although lipstick has a small container, they also contribute to a large beauty waste every year. According to Beauty Horizons, about one billion lipstick cases are thrown away annually in the world.

So, we need reuse methods that cut down on packaging waste and create a more circular approach for a sustainable future.

A study from Vaseline also mentioned that the average woman will buy 300 lipsticks, 840 moisturizers, and 360 nail varnishes in her lifetime. However, 77% of women will use only 10 items regularly. In total, a single person will discard 5,846 beauty products over the course of their lives.

How Long Does Old Lipstick Take to Decompose?

Your old lipstick mainly consists of wax, oil, and pigment. Natural wax can decompose within two months. However, the biodegradation of wax produced during the refining of crude oil, such as paraffin and microcrystalline wax, might take several years.

How To Dispose of Old Lipstick
How Long does Old Lipstick Take to Decompose?

Meanwhile, oils contained in your old lipstick are categorized as biodegradable. However, pigments’ biodegradation will depend on the main source. If your old lipstick uses natural ingredients for the pigment, they may decompose faster.

On the other hand, the chemicals from synthetic pigments may leave toxins that harm the soil when decomposed.

In addition, packaging of your old lipstick will also take years to decompose. Lipstick containers are usually made of plastic which are difficult to disintegrate. However, if your old lipstick packaging comes from thermoplastic, there is a greater possibility for a recycling program.

Old Lipstick Environmental Problems

If you don’t know how to dispose of old lipstick safely, you may harm the environment. Despite its small size, you can’t simply throw away your old lipstick since it may cause many environmental problems. So, consider disposing of old lipsticks properly. Otherwise, you will contribute to some environmental issues below.

1. Chemicals That Harm Aquatic Life

As previously mentioned, lipstick may contain synthetic antioxidants and preservatives such as BHA and BHT. These ingredients may end up in the ocean if you don’t know how to dispose of old lipstick properly. They cause fish deaths and decrease the abundance of animal plankton, a vital food supply for marine life.

These substances are challenging to remove after they have entered the river. Some of these pollutants continue to be present in the water supply even after sewage disposal.

Chemicals That Harm Aquatic Life
Old Lipstick Environmental Problems

2. Microplastic Issue

Lipstick packaging is made of plastic, which is not biodegradable and will never break down. Instead, it disintegrates and fragments into minuscule sizes via a process called “photodegradation”.

The more hazardous and challenging it is to clean up, the smaller the plastic becomes. The microplastic waste directly causes 100,000 marine mammal deaths annually throughout the world. This includes whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, and even dolphins.

3. Destroyed Forest and Wildlife

After trying to get rid of old lipstick, you are going to buy the new one. However, did you know that lipstick production also impacts the forest and wildlife? Due to its enormous demand for oils for lipstick production, intensive cultivation has become unsustainable.

Huge tracts of natural forests have been cleared to make room for palm oil plantations, and innumerable animal species have lost their habitat in the process.

4. Animal Cruelty

Animal testing for cosmetics, including lipstick is not only useless and terrible, but it also produces a lot of pollution. Surprisingly, 80% of nations still permit the testing of cosmetics on animals, exposing 100 million animals annually to potential allergies that frequently result in pain and death.

The animal testing also produces waste that may be chemically reactive, radioactive, or biologically dangerous. The USA’s National Institutes of Health’s animal testing labs generated 1.5 million pounds of trash between 2011 and 2013.

The Right Ways on How to Dispose Old Lipstick

Disposing old and broken lipstick is simple and easy if you understand how to handle the materials that made them up. Simply follow smart tips below so you don’t contribute to the bigger beauty waste. Here are steps on how to safely dispose of old lipstick without harming the environment!

The Right Ways On How To Dispose Old Lipstick
The Right Ways on How to Dispose Old Lipstick

1. Empty The Lipstick Containers

Perhaps you still have half used lipstick in the containers, then you should empty them first. Put them in a sealed plastic bag to avoid waste contamination. After that, you can safely place them into the trash.

2. Recycle The Lipstick Containers

Usually, several significant makeup recycling organizations will accept your empty lipstick containers without charging you anything. One of the greatest makeup recycling program initiatives is TerraCycle, which collaborates with numerous major cosmetic companies.

Simply place your empty lipstick containers in a box with a shipping label and send them to the waste management company.

3. Donate Unused Lipsticks

This is a preventive action before your old lipstick expires and becomes wasted. Check with your local women’s shelters to see if they are accepting donations if you come across any unopened lipstick that isn’t more than one to one to two years old and that you no longer want. Ensure that the lipstick you donate is pristine and sealed.

Lipstick Environmentally Friendly Alternatives

There are various ways to turn your lips red without using lipstick if you’re looking for a good substitute that won’t harm the environment. From eco-friendly makeup products to the creative and natural way, we have compiled some alternatives just for you.

Let us give you some environmentally friendly alternatives of lipstick that are worth trying on your beautiful lips!

1. Organic Vegan Lipstick

Today, many people are looking for eco-friendly makeup products. In fact, natural and sustainable materials also can create great lipstick products. For instance, organic vegan lipsticks from Dab Herb are made of 100% non-toxic food-grade ingredients.

The only preservative used here is natural, non-GMO, and Kosher Vitamin E. Beside, they use recyclable or reusable containers for these organic vegan lipsticks.

Organic Vegan Makeup
Organic Vegan Lipstick

2. Kool Aid Powder

Did you know that you can stain your lips red with Kool Aid powder? This is a smart way to get a beautiful lip color without buying lipstick! You may get a bold lip color that doesn’t require reapplication by sprinkling some of the powdered drink into a bowl, mixing it with some water to make a paste, and then letting it sit on your lips for a few minutes. Plus, you may get a delicious drink!

3. Natural Exfoliation

Well, our lips already have a beautiful color without lipstick if you know how to treat them well. And, lips exfoliation is the right way to produce the bright pink reddish color on your lips naturally. Apply a scrub comprised of honey and sugar to your lips around once a week.

After exfoliating your lips, moisturize them with a little oil, such as coconut or almond oil.

Final Thought

A small piece of lipstick may create a bigger environmental problem if we don’t know how to dispose of it properly. Besides, there are many alternatives to having a beautiful lip without harming the environment. As Ecomaniacs, don’t let you sacrifice the environment for beauty reasons! Hopefully, this article will make you smart and wise in handling old lipstick waste and find a better solution to protect the Earth.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you throw old lipstick in the garbage?

Yes, you can. Especially if your old lipstick tubes are considered too small to be recycled, then consider trying to get rid of them in the garbage. However, make sure if the container is empty, to avoid hazardous waste contamination. For more tips on how to dispose of old lipstick, you can read in the article above.

Is lipstick a hazardous waste?

Yes. Lipstick may contain hazardous chemicals such as heavy metals or harmful ingredients when they are expired. So, you should empty the old and broken lipstick tube from hazardous chemicals before placing them into the trash.

Make sure you put the lipstick in the sealed plastic bag to avoid harmful chemicals contamination on the ground. Suppose you need a detailed explanation on how to dispose of makeup products, especially lipstick, please check in the article above.

How do you tell if a lipstick is expired?

The simple way is by checking on the expired date label on the packaging. Besides, you can also observe some signs of expired lipsticks. Check if your lipstick becomes soggy, clumpy, dry, or gritty. It’s time to get a new tube of lipstick if the texture looks different. The most evident indication that lipstick has expired is when it develops moldy areas.

Can you pour lipstick down the drain?

No, we don’t recommend you do that. Lipstick has the potential to be harmful and damage plumbing. In the drain, liquid lipstick like lip gloss can cling to hair and other debris and coat the inside of the pipe. Meanwhile, hard lipstick or lip balm may directly contribute to blockage. If you are looking for tips on how to dispose of old lipstick properly, go check in the article above.

How long is lipstick good for?

Generally, lipstick lasts one to two years. Unused or half used lipstick can endure for 12 to 18 months because it doesn’t store a lot of microorganisms. Despite the fact that lipstick is loaded with antimicrobial preservatives like parabens, vitamins, and essential oils, these substances naturally begin to degrade after a year.