We’re all for the sharing economy and will happily rent items of clothing or buy second hand or vintage pieces – it’s good for the environment and our bank balances. But purchasing pre-owned makeup? That might be a step too far.
But apparently this is a trend that’s taking off in the US and beyond. The West Coast-based website Glambot.com has been selling used makeup for the last few years, since launching in 2015. The service takes your unwanted makeup – whether it’s a barely-used eyeshadow palette or a concealer that turned out to be the wrong shade for your skin – sanitises it, then repackages it in a new container and sells it at a discounted price. A quick browse through the site reveals listings of MAC eyeshadows, Chanel foundation and Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks, all selling for a fraction of their RRP. And before you ask, yes, they do ship to the UK.
While questions have been raised about the hygiene levels of the products they resell, with people wondering whether it’s even safe to use pre-owned items like mascara and lipstick, Glambot insists their cleaning techniques are so rigorous that it’s not an issue. “Depending on the exact composition of the product, we use a combination of different sanitisation techniques, which include the application of heat, the use of various alcohol solutions, detailed layered product removal, and the use of natural emollients,” Glambot’s founder Karen Horiuchi said in an interview with Refinery29.
Then there’s the issue of sell-by dates. Most makeup and skincare comes with expiration dates, usually signified by a symbol printed inside or on the bottom of the product. The ‘period after opening’ date is indicated by a little tub-and-lid symbol, while the ‘best before date’ is shown by an hourglass symbol with a date stamped nearby. But Glambot states they never sell out-of-date products. “All items sent in must be non-expired,” Horiuchi said. “We meticulously check all items for dates that are explicitly specified on labels and other packaging.”
It’s not just the US that’s getting in on the pre-loved beauty action. According to Business of Fashion, the craze is now sweeping Japan too. Yes, you read that right – even one of the cleanest nations on the planet, with its bin-free streets and high-tech toilets, is happy to buy used makeup. BOF reports that Japanese millennials are now scouring resale sites for high-end beauty products at bargain prices, tapping into the more frugal aspect of Japanese culture, otherwise known as Mottainai. Mercari, Japan’s top peer-to-peer marketplace platform, is the most popular site for buying pre-owned makeup, selling brands like RMS Beauty and Nu Skin, which are not usually available in Japan.
A quick poll of the Glamour office revealed that staffers would consider wearing a lightly used blusher or bronzer, an eyeshadow palette or a foundation that came in a jar, but drew the line at the idea of purchasing pre-owned mascara or lipstick. Although one member of staff did admit that, for the perfect shade by the right high-end brand, she might consider chopping the tip off a used lipstick. However you feel about it, it seems this trend is here to stay and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to the UK – reselling app Depop already stocks used makeup. It’s certainly a novel way to curb the fast beauty epidemic…