So I Found $1000 of Makeup Dumpster Diving...

December 02, 2017

Yeah you read that right...dumpster diving. No I'm not homeless, and I'm certainly not doing badly even for a college student. I stumbled upon videos of girls like myself, who wanted to reduce waste, as well as save a few bucks, for seemingly meaningless products such as makeup. In these videos, the girls talk about how they nervously started going into dumpsters behind stores like Ulta and finding $1000s worth of product thrown out in perfectly useable condition. Some of the product was returns, others were opened boxes from the store or last years trends that weren't selling.

So all of this got me intrigued - I could find all the makeup of my dreams just by digging through a little bit of trash? In the videos, the trash didn't even look too bad, it was all makeup and maybe an employees lunch here or there, and the thought of so much potential payoff was too enticing.

I jumped in.

I started at an Ulta near me which I quickly found out was useless as it has a trash compactor where I decided losing my legs wasn't worth it, and felt discouraged already. The following day-- or rather night, because I was too embarrassed I'd be seen -- I headed to another Ulta, only to find out it was trash day and nothing much was left to sort through. Where was my gold mine? The free makeup? The pride in searching and finding what I wanted for free???

Then, just about two weeks later of finding little to nothing and claiming used eyebrow pencils as a "find", I happened upon an Ulta store right after they had thrown out four boxes of returns. It's store policy the employees destroy all the product and mix it in a "soup" of other products such as conditioner, body soap and foundation, and I strapped on my gloves ready to sort through the goop for my finds. The first two boxes were like this, filled to the brim with opened and sliced products where I found a few foundations that were unopened, and felt pretty good about myself, but picking up the third box I had a good feeling.

I opened the box to see untouched, beautifully wrapped, brand. freaking. new. makeup. (and maybe some angels singing and a bright white light coming out of the box)

Just a couple of my finds from that box

I called my best friend to facetime and show off my find, after her badmouthing my "hobo" ways she was shocked and begging me to send her some of the product. All in all, I found at least $700 worth of stuff in that one box, including two huge eyeshadow palettes, three foundations, and five skincare items just for starters.

So how did I do it? How can you do it? It's really easy frankly, you just find an Ulta (or other store that you like the product from) and hop on in the dumpster behind it. What surprised me most was how not gross it was, I mean I wouldn't wear your Sunday best, but it really wasn't bad. Here are some tips to get started that I've learned through my experiences and reading:

  • (at Ulta) don't waste time looking through the black trash bags, they're from the salon portion (and can contain hair ew I know but get over it)
  • look through the white clear-ish bags and don't be afraid to rip them open and sort through a little
  • wear gloves, especially when going through return boxes as it gets very very messy
  • try multiple locations at multiple times, once you figure out when they dump stuff and what time works best, you're golden
  • grab a friend to go with you, seriously it's not as weird as it seems and hey it's also good for the environment
  • especially if you go at night, bring a flashlight
  • it's all about the hunt, sometimes you find a lot, other times nothing...and that's what makes it so exciting

For the environmental side of things, I'm going to link the girl I learned a lot from on how to dumpster dive and not only that taking a palette out of the trash is taking it out of the landfill and reusing, but all the waste that goes into creating a palette that I never even thought of! Check her out here.

Although makeup, a couple of candles from Bath and Body Works and some household items from World Market are all I've ventured into for dumpster diving, I can see how people are into it. Companies are throwing away perfectly good items that not only shouldn't be polluting our landfills, but could go to people in real need as well. I've seen countless videos and blogs about stores throwing away perfectly good food, childrens toys, or even clothing! When I move to my new apartment next year I fully plan on going dumpster diving for some accessories around my place, I'm bougie on a budget. Some people have said they've turned this into their day job, collecting items and selling them, but I haven't found it that easy or had enough time to commit to it, so for now, it'll be my dirty little secret.

So what do you think? Am I disgusting or a genius?

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