By BR Amelia
How do you get your hands on makeup? Are you one for a touch of online shopping? Are you a fan of going into stores, testing, trying, then buying what captures your interest? Or do you prefer to hang around the back of shops, waiting for night to fall, then diving into their dumpster to see what goodies may have been chucked out during the day?
Yes, I know that last way of procuring cosmetics sounds rather extrame, but it's a thing. Not only is it a thing, but for some people it's big business.
Dumpster diving makeup hauls aren't some flash in the pan trend, they've been going on for a while now, in fact our own members were talking about it two years ago - with the overwhelming response being that it was a big 'no' for them. Yet, one quick look at YouTube shows that the concept is continuing to flourish, with YouTubers uploading their finds on a regular basis.
When I first heard about it I imagined these people were pulling open rubbish bags to find testers and returned goods that had been tossed aside. Except, that's not what happens. Companies in the United States make a huge effort to ensure the products they throw out are unusable. The dumpster divers open up bags to find the products covered in foundation, shampoo, conditioner. Lines (presumably created by using scizzors, box cutters or keys) are run through eyeshadows, highlighters and powders. Perfumes have their lids and nozzles removed. And yet the contents are pawed through, checked over, with products being put in the 'too destroyed to do anything with' pile, or the 'saved' pile.
Yes, these people believe the expired and returned products can be saved. And not just for their own use. In one video the woman set aside the products she'd be keeping for herself, and the ones she would be selling. SELLING.
Now, I'm all for recycling, reusing and repurposing. If I have a lightly used and unexpired eyeshadow palette I will sanitise it and pass it on to a family member telling them I've used it - but because they know me, trust me and I can guarantee I haven't had an eye infection, they're okay with it. Would they take a product from a complete stranger? No.
Yet this is what people may well be unknowingly doing when they buy a 'makeup haul' off an auction site or Facebook group.
Let's think about this for a second. Products testers have been swatched and touched by who knows how many people. People you don't know. People who could have infections of some kind. Returned goods may still look brand new having only been used once or twice, but again, they carry the risk of stranger danger. Not only that, but the products have been sitting in a rubbish bin for who knows how long?
Anyone else remember doing that petri dish bacteria test in high school? We put our petri dish in a rubbish bin for one minute - you won't believe the blooms that grew on the agar gel. It was disturbing stuff. Yet people are scavenging products, then either using them on their faces, or selling them online - and you can't tell me that they disclose where they got it from. My search of ebay showed no mention whatsoever of where the used makeup had come from. No surprises there...
So it is happening in New Zealand? We spoke to Moyra Parker, General Manager of Makeup Direct, and asked if they'd experienced dumpster diving, but she was unaware of anyone going through their rubbish. However at Makeup Direct they do try to minimize waste as much as possible by offering any damaged (i.e. broken lid) or near expiring products to their purchasing customers for free when they have made a purchase (with full disclosure that it is damaged or near expiring). It's also offered to staff or family and friends. They have also donated such product to local schools for their drama/productions and a women’s organisation (again with full disclosure they are damaged or near expiring).
Moyra's advice to people who might consider going through a company’s rubbish in order to take home product? Unsurprisingly, don't do it. "They are putting their own health and safety at risk – glass, chemicals etc," she said. "You also don’t really have any knowledge as to why the products have been disposed of. I certainly think it is wrong if you dumpster dive for a profit (i.e. sell online) – this could possibly cause so many other problems down the track not only to the dumpster diver but also to the buyer, the company/brand …lawsuits if anything happens to them, such as an electrical fault on a faulty hairdryer."