What if I told you your beauty habit could result in some serious discounts? Nope, not making it up. And along with that, you’ll be doing some serious good, too.
Mother Earth is powerful and beautiful thing, and we’re, of course, all certainly interested in assuring we take thoughtful care of her, but the beauty industry is something of a paradox when it comes to eco-responsibility. Like most consumption-based industries, there is a tremendous amount of waste and excess that goes hand-in-hand with each product’s ingredients, packaging, and shipping.
Thankfully brands—and consumers—are taking notice. We’ve gone from hidden practices to radical transparency with production and recycling efforts from many companies.
And if that wasn’t enough, a few, stand out brands are taking it one step further: Select companies will give you a discount for recycling used products with them. Yep, they’ll give you a substantial kickback to simply return that empty bottle. That’s how motivated a handful of companies are—they are willing to give you money back, or free goodies, to incentivize you to simply bring back something you have no use for anymore. It’s pretty incredible when you consider it.
So who will pay you for your trash? Here, a list of our favorite companies who want to help you do a little good.
Lush is already a brand known for taking a stand, whether it be animal testing, turning ocean plastic into packaging, environmental transparency, or simply recycling. Lush takes their recycle program very seriously. Not only is most of the packaging made from recycled materials, but to incentivize you to do even more good, they’ll give you a Fresh face mask for free if you bring back five empty, clean black Lush pots to your local shop for recycling.
Now, which face mask to choose? While all Lush face masks are pretty fantastic, why not try out their popular fruit enzyme mask Just To Clarify ($13.95), which gets major bonus points for being effective yet gentle thanks to a super blend of tropic fruits (plus it has a super clever name). And the whipped gel texture is super unique, making for an interesting experience.
While you’re there, or if you simply want to support a brand and their admirable transparency, check out the beloved face and body exfoliator Ocean Salt ($21.95). The cult classic scrub has a whopping 1,851 positive reviews on its site, which is pretty damn impressive. It exfoliates while also hydrating—a hard to find blend.
You might be thinking this recycling incentive is great, but no high-end brand could possibly be participating in this, right? Wrong. The brand that launched a thousand Santal 33 competitors is very much focused on Mother Earth, too. Get this: Le Labo will refill your empty Le Labo fragrance bottle and give you 20 percent off the original price when doing so. I mean, isn’t that incredible?
“Le Labo” and “discount” are two words that are never aligned—there really aren’t sales or traditional markdowns with the beloved boutique brand. So take advantage of this not-publicized promo, while helping to reduce waste.
Need some suggestions for which scent should become your signature? While Santal 33 is one of the most iconic scents ever created, maybe go with one of their more low-key fragrances. You literally cannot go wrong with any scent created by the brand, but I’m partial to Lys 41 ($184), with a unique blend of florals that don’t smell too sweet. Jasmine, lily, and tuberose add light, Earthy scents while vanilla and musks add depth to what might feel like just another floral perfume.
Do you ever worry that your cleaned out, recyclable beauty products aren’t really being recycled properly? I think about it all the time when placing my empties in my recycling bin along with other plastic and glass products. If you want to be assured your recycling is being handled properly, leave it with the pros.
Which is exactly what L’Occitane has done with their partnership with TerraCycle, the international recycling leaders. With this duo, you can now drop off ALL brands’ (not just L’Occitane) empty beauty products at all retail locations, and you’ll then receive a 10 percent discount towards one full-size product purchased that same day.
It’s pretty incredible that L’Occitane is helping keep their own beauty packaging out of landfills and dumpsters, but beyond impressive that they’re working to keep their competitors’ packaging from damaging the environment, too.
Wondering what to spend your 10 percent discount on? Try out the new Overnight Reset Oil-In-Serum ($59), which is suppose to make you look more well-rested in one night. Over time, it can refresh and revitalize skin like a retinol, but much more gentle.
The beloved, OG pharmacy brand is just the best, right? The effective, lower-cost products are a breath of fresh air, but if you need another reason to love the brand, look no further than their long-standing recycling program. For each empty, full-size container you bring into a Kiehl’s, you receive one stamp. Once you’ve got 10 stamps (they’ll add up quick, trust), you receive a free travel-size Kiehl’s product. And those travel-size products are not only great for testing out potential new favorites, but perfect for bringing along in either your daily work bag or carry-on while traveling (obviously).
Need some travel musts inspiration? Try their Ultimate Strength Hand Salve ($16) to soothe even the driest of dry hands. Also: Their Lip Balm #1 ($9.50) is one of my plane musts, it stays on forever and hydrates with the very best of them.
MAC is making it perfectly acceptable to be a makeup hoarder and sampler. If you return six finished MAC products to their stores or online, you get to pick a free lipstick of your color choice. Of your choice! I greatly admire any brand making it easier to reward recycling, but MAC is taking it one step further by giving you the freedom of choice with your reward. What are you going to do with all this power?
It could be the perfect excuse to try that bold shade you’ve been meaning to check out, like that Nico Kiss deep blue shade (you’d look great in that, you should try it out!). Or go for a forever classic, like the universally perfect red Ruby Woo ($18.50).
And this recycling initiative, which has been in place with the brand for many years, perfectly aligns with their other forward-thinking practices. One of the most famous and extraordinarily being MAC AIDS Fund, which was created in 1994 to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS. Impressively (and unprecedentedly) 100 percent of the purchase price of any VIVA GLAM product goes to the fund. A beautiful brand continuing to do beautiful things—what more could you ask for?
The most popular brand in Korea is entirely focused on making incredible products incredibly accessible for all budgets. But a low price point doesn’t mean they sacrificed quality or consciousness; the brand has made their smart approach to ingredient sourcing very transparent, publicizing that they source most products from their fields on Korea’s Jeju Island. They also support reforestation efforts on the island, planting 80,000 plus trees to date.
And with that Earthly focus, they’ve also aligned with (the above mentioned) TerraCycle to collect empty packaging in stores and online in exchange for Innisfree loyalty Green Points. With enough points, you can nab discounts on future purchases online and in stores.
What are we going to pick up with our newfound discount? I’ve already mused about how incredible cushion foundations are, and this Aqua Fit Cushion ($12) is full coverage, yet as light as air. And they are super portable, making them perfect for travel or as a staple in your bag for midday touch-ups.
I’m also a huge fan of their Pore Clearing Clay Mousse Mask with Volcanic Cluster ($18), which is a clay mask, but with superpowers. The lightweight mousse draws out impurities, while the Jeju volcanic clusters exfoliate skin gently. Hardly another mask can clarify like this beauty.
The brand making cleaner beauty budget-friendly, is also hoping to clean up the Earth with its new recycling program. Pacifica has partnered with Preserve to safely recycle empty packaging, but they take it a step further to ‘reincarnate’ previous plastic products into new purchasable items like toothbrushes and razor handles.
When Pacifica gets your recycled items, they give you loyalty points, which can be used for discounts on any product you wish. What are we wishing for? Gem Serum Radiant Drops ($16), which give skin a major boost and glow, thanks to Rose quartz, watermelon, lemongrass, and mica.