How to recycle makeup and other cosmetics

The half-empty sunscreen from three seasons ago, that bath salts your aunt gave you that you never used, or that dried up nail polish. We all have them and once in a while we gather the strength, it’s time to clean them out of the house. 

But how and where is the most environmentally friendly way to throw out or recycle makeup and other personal care products? To sort it out, we’ve made a list!

Couldn’t find the product you were looking for? Drop us a comment and we’ll add it to the list!


Why and where to recycle beauty products

Empty, used up, cosmetic containers can easily be recycled. An empty plastic bottle goes to plastic recycling, an empty glass bottle to glass recycling, and so forth.

All empty containers that you can’t recycle, just go in the normal trash bin, in other words, the combustible waste.

The combustible waste is, as the name reveals, the trash that gets burned at after collection. In many countries, such as Sweden, the burning of household waste also generates heating and electricity.

It’s important to note, that in the normal combustible trash, you only put the waste that is left after you have sorted out your food waste, hazardous waste, electronic waste, packaging and magazines and other things that are not recyclable, such as porcelain.

It goes without saying, but items classified as hazardous waste, plastics, or electronic appliances should never be put in the normal waste bin due to the environmental and health risks it may cause when burned.

So, to the recycling of cosmetics

As it turns out, many of the intimate products that we use every day are not combustible waste.

There are actually many of our everyday cosmetics and personal care products that are considered hazardous waste. Meaning it needs to be brought to a recycling center for proper disposal.

Unless you live close by a recycling center, we suggest to gather your waste and then take the trip once every quarter or half-year.


easily with the Ingredient Scanner

Products considered hazardous waste

Non-empty products of these sort need to be taken to the recyling station to be deposited in a safe final disposal.

Recycle these cosmetics as hazardous waste

  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant (empty deodorant from glass or plastic recycles accordingly)
  • Hair spray (and other colored sprays) (Empty hair spray bottles are usually of metal = metal recycling)
  • Aftershave
  • Shaving gel, shaving foam, shaving cream in a gas metal container
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Hair dyes
  • Hydrogen peroxide ( often leftovers from hair color or bleaching, f.ex.)
  • Hair mouse (empty hair mousse bottle is in most cases recycled as metal)
  • Bath salts – not a hazardous waste but can’t be recycled*
  • Shower cream
  • Perfume bottle (empty bottles should be recycled accordingly, most often it’s glass)

Other household products that are hazardous waste

  • Washing-up liquid, dish soap
  • Fever thermometer containing mercury
  • Cleansers containing chlorine
  • Dishwasher detergents
  • Contact glue
  • Paint
  • Water-based paint
  • Silver polish
  • Caustic soda
  • Car cleaners
  • Herbicide ( including Roundup )
  • Fungicide
  • Remover, Cleaning cream, Detergents of all kinds
  • Shoe polish non-empty
  • Toilet cleaners
  • Washing powder and detergent

Non hazardous waste

Content you can pour down the drain and then recycle the bottle

  • Lens solution
  • Alcohol & alcohol gel
  • Hand disinfectant/alcohol (non-perfumed)
  • Food coloring

For the compostible waste

  • Diapers
  • Sanitary pad / napkin
  • Body lotion
  • Cotton and cotton pad
  • Cotton swap / bud
  • Washcloth
  • Wash sponge
  • Scented candles
  • Candles, paraffin candles
  • Disposable Razors
  • Gauze bandage
  • pregnancy Test
  • Hand cream
  • Hairpin (hairpin of metal is metal recycling)
  • Hair shampoo or conditioner
  • Hair tie
  • Lenses
  • Condoms
  • Receipts (you might think it’s paper but due to the coating it can’t be recycled in most cases.
  • Lipstick and lip balm
  • Makeup: mascara , eyeshadow
  • Herbal preparations
  • Vitamin tablets
  • Shaving gel / shaving tubes, in tube or without conainer
  • Scouring pads
  • Toothbrush (toothpaste tubes, on the other hand, can be recycled as plastic)
  • Chewing gum
  • Felt pen
  • Wet wipe

Other related waste for the recycling station

Electronic waste

  • Electric toothebrush
  • Epilator, hair removal
  • Electrical shaver
  • Fever measure , digital
  • Hair dryer
  • All kinds of cords
  • Iron


All kinds of pharmaceuticals are to be taken to the recycling center and sorted as such.


Everything that cannot be burned or recycled, such as bath salts, porcelain, and ceramics, some recycling centers have separate containers for.

Those kinds of materials are then reused as filling material for building constructions, road works, or similar.