How To Repurpose Unwanted Cosmetic Duds

If you're anything like me, even in spite of careful research you end up with cosmetic duds. I also get a lot of products offered to me by friends, since they know I'm a bit of a beauty junkie. The good news is that you can reuse almost everything!

First, ask around if anyone wants them. Check on Facebook for local groups devoted to giving stuff away for free. Be honest about the condition (opened or not, how old, etc) so that the other person can make an informed decision. Anything unopened, especially hygiene stuff, can be donated to women's shelters.

Moisturisers, serums, masques:

You can use them for the rest of your body, I call this doing the Beyoncé. Apparently she uses this expensive face cream for her entire body.  Or use them to shave. Heavier creams make great leather conditioners. 
Cleansers : 
Cleansers work well as a gentle body wash. Or use them to shave. They also make great brush cleansers. 

Oils and butters: 

These can be used on the hands, feet, or to protect the hair ends. Try them out as a hair masque. Also you can use them as bath oils -- mix a the oil with a bit of emulsifier (milk cream works in a pinch) and add it into your bath. You can add a bit of emulgator to oils and use it as a makeup remover. Add salt or sugar to make a scrub. Or condition your wooden or leather items with it. 

Foundation, concealer, face powder: 

Slightly wrong shades can be used to contour or highlight, or mixed with body lotion to make a tinted moisturiser for your legs. All three might work as a good eyelid primer. Light mattifying powders can be used as dry shampoo. 

Shower gels, liquid soap: 

These make good hand soap. You can test it out as a floor detergent, depending on the ingredients they might work well or be a tad sticky. 


A simple hair-addict trick is to use less favourite conditioners as masques before washing the hair. Conditioner softens wool sweaters! Add it into the washing machine where the fabric softener goes. If you ave a particularly scratchy wool item, you can treat it with conditioner. I used this guide to softening wool and it worked well on a very scratchy wool cape. I also love to use hair conditioners to shave with. 

Hand cream: 

These make great leather conditioners! Of course you can use them on your feet. 

Hair spray: 

Makes dried flowers last longer. Also keep charcoal or pastel paintings from smudging. You can also use it to tame your eyebrows, or spray it on leggings or pantyhose to prevent static. 

Eye shadow and blush: 

Mix with clear nail polish to get a new shade. You can also give more colourful or sparkly ones to someone with kids to paint their faces for Halloween or at parties. 


Use scrub that didn't work for your face on your body, and the harsher ones can be used on the feet. 


Use SLS-free shampoos as a body wash, or as a detergent for woollens. In fact some wool fanatics recommend always using shampoos instead of detergents. Gentle shampoos also work as shaving gels. Shampoo makes the best cleanser for cosmetic brushes. 


It's the best cleaning product for silver jewellery. It also helps heal cheliosis. 


I use the ones in spray for as shoe deodorisers. You can also try them out for your feet.


If it smells good, tuck it into your lingerie drawer. Essential oils Add a few drops to the rinse cycle in your washing machine, or on a cotton pad which goes into the bottom of your trash can. 

Lip balm: 

These make good cuticle moisturisers. Many work as eyebrow wax -- just use a clean spoolie. They also work as an anti-chafing product for the feet -- apply where blisters might appear.

Coloured lip products: 

It's worth trying them out as blush or eye products. You can also give them to someone with kids to paint their faces for Halloween or at parties. 

Highlighter, bronzer: 

What doesn't work on the face often looks good on the body (decollete, legs). I like using my bronzer as eyeshadow. You can also mix it with moisturiser to create a tinted product for your legs, or make a diy shimmer body oil. 


Animal shelters in some places use mascara wands to remove parasites from hedgehogs. 

Coloured pencils, sticks: 

Try to use them on other parts of the face -- as highlighter or blush, lips, eyes. You can also use them as art supplies.

Don't reuse: 

Perfume, unless it's natural. Legal loopholes mean ingredients of perfumes are trade secrets and don't have to be disclosed. Perfumes often contain known carcinogens or allergens, so I don't recommend using perfume as air fresheners or laundry perfume.

How do you repurpose your cosmetics? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: VanessaC

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