We spent the last two days talking about secondhand cosmetics to anyone who spoke with me: my husband, friends, acquaintances, an acupuncturist, dermatologists, and straight up strangers. Every time I broached the subject, I got the most visceral reactions that ranged from shock to horror (“Ew, like, used makeup?” asked a friend, her face scrunched up in disgust).
And yet, there’s a demand for used or pre-owned products. As reported by the Business of Fashion, the trend is big among a small segment of very thrifty millennials in Japan. In the U.S., there are online communities like Glambot, Poshmark, and MUABS, in which its members can either sell or purchase unwanted beauty products for a fraction of the retail price. There are stipulations, of course, and they vary between places. (At Glambot, for example, a product can’t be expired and there has to be at least 50 percent of the original product left, while at Poshmark, it must be completely brand new).
It’s a phenomenon no one really saw coming, but at the root of it, maybe it isn’t all that surprising. Perhaps you were gifted an eye shadow palette you never wanted or you bought a tube of lipstick that, after one use, you decided you didn’t really like the shade after all. So why keep it, unused and neglected, until the day you toss it when you could be giving it a second life? On the buyer’s side, there’s the thrill of scoring a coveted item from a prestigious label for a steal (a similar argument can be made for those who dumpster dive for beauty products).