Best Places to Dumpster Dive for Makeup

Published January 13, 2020
Dumpster diving for makeup

Dumpster diving for makeup is a popular for cosmetic enthusiasts to save money. While its popularity has prompted many store managers and owners to take drastic measures to prevent dumpster diving, there are still some places you may find usable makeup.

Best Places for You to Dumpster Dive for Makeup

A list of the best places to dumpster diver for makeup may give you a good starting place. The two most popular dumpster diving destinations are Ulta and Sally's.

Ulta Beauty

Dumpster diving at Ulta stores is one of the most popular cosmetics stores for divers. In the past, divers could find tons of product tossed out. What types and condition of makeup you find largely depends on your location and if divers have been before you.

Sally's Beauty Supply

Another popular stop is the dumpster behind Sally's Beauty Supply. In addition to cosmetics, expensive hair products and accessories such as brushes, curling irons, hair dryers, etc are often gleaned from the dumpster.

Your Local Best Places to Dumpster Dive for Makeup

While you may not have an Ulta Beauty store in your town or a Sally's Beauty Supply store, you certainly have other stores that sell makeup. This can include department stores, such as Bloomingdale's and Macy's.

Department Stores and Stand-Alone Shops

Most department stores are located in shopping malls, unless located in a downtown city. It depends on where you live.

  • You'll need to know which dumpster is theirs. That's usually easy enough to deduce from observation and/or investigation.
  • You'll also need to discover when and how often the cosmetic department trash is dumped. Most stores remove trash on a nightly basis at the close of business.
  • You'll soon discover if the store is a good choice for dumpster diving, depending on when and how they throw away cosmetics.

A few other stores that carry cosmetics include:

  • Dillard's carries Estee Lauder, Lancome, Mac Cosmetics, Triforce, Clinique, Elizabeth Arden, and Dior cosmetics.
  • Saks Fifth Avenue presents you with many cosmetic brands that include, Saks Fifth Avenue, Givenchy, Dior, NARS, Tom Ford, Laura Mercier, Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Armani Beauty, RÓEN, La Mer and others.
  • Neiman Marcus offers Neiman Marcus, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Hourglass, Kosas, Bobbi Brown, and other cosmetics.

Types of Makeup Often Found in Dumpsters

The type of makeup you can find in dumpsters covers a wide range. Divers report finding lipsticks, foundation makeup, mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner, hair products, hair accessories, perfumes, and skin lotions. Occasionally, you may luck up with unused samples or testers, but more likely you'll come across opened returned products, used testers, final sales, expired products, damaged, broken seals, and/or used.

Ruined Makeup Deterrent to Dumpster Divers

A few years ago, you could find a wider range of salvageable cosmetics in dumpsters. With dumpster diving for makeup becoming so popular, retailers grew concerned about possible lawsuits from expired and used/contaminated products.

compact powder and concealer

Souping Makeup

This threat of legal ramification has motivated managers and owners to break, damage, scrape, and make the cosmetics worthless and unusable prior to placing in the dumpster. This practice was duped "souping" by divers since the employees often pour liquid cosmetics over the ones they've cut, slashed or gouged to make them unusable. This practice has deterred many divers.

Some Stores Still Just Toss in Trash

There are still stores in towns/cities where retailers haven't had to contend with dumpster divers and therefore have no need to start this practice, since it requires additional time and effort when dealing with throwaways.

Tips for Dumpster Diving for Makeup

There are several makeup dumpster divers who have created successful YouTube instruction videos. These divers eagerly share their expertise with helpful tips and record their dives and hauls for loyal viewers.

A few popular tips include:

  • Wear gloves that can't be pierced by broken plastic containers or other sharp objects.
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you and use frequently.
  • Wear high boots when climbing into dumpsters.
  • Makeup divers use alcohol to sanitize makeup packaging/containers and brushes.
  • Divers describe how they cut away questionable parts of found lipsticks.
  • Don't leave a mess. Nothing will put the skids on dumpster diving faster than making a mess of someone's trash. Be respectful and leave the dumpster the way you found it.

Dumpster Haulics scored an unexpected $7,500 Ulta haul!

Is Dumpster Diving Legal?

Technically, dumpster diving is legal. According to a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) discussion, the Supreme Court ruling of 1988 declared that a warrant wasn't needed for police to rummage through curbside trash. This ruling has been a green light to dumpster divers.

Local Laws May Ban It

However, some counties and/or cities have banned dumpster diving. Be sure you know the law for your area before taking the plunge.


If you retrieve trash from a company bin, chances are the trash will be viewed as abandoned and no longer anyone's property. If this were contested in a court of law, it might depend whether the company was paid to discard the merchandise. If that's the case, taking the product from the trash bin isn't theft since the company was previously compensated for the merchandise and chose to discard it in the trash.


If the dumpster you're searching is on private property, then you could be brought up on charges of minor trespassing. If the dumpster is on public property, then you can't be charged with trespassing.

Health Risks in Dumpster Diving

There are certain health risks you take when using any product retrieved from a dumpster. Rarely is trash sorted when placed in trash bags, so the makeup you retrieve could be in a bag with half-eaten meals, discarded customer tissues from testing makeup products, used hygiene products from a bathroom, and other kinds of daily trash. The germs found in trash bins can be dangerous to your health, especially when you put contaminated makeup on your skin. In addition, expired cosmetics could

Searching and Finding the Best Places to Dumpster Dive for Makeup

You will need to spend a little time finding the best places in your town/city to find makeup for dumpster diving. Keep in mind that others may already be diving in the places you select and be respectful when diving.

Best Places to Dumpster Dive for Makeup