Dumpster Diving For Beauty Products: Is It Legal And Safe?


Sure, it’s usually pleasant to get a wonderful deal on beauty products, and what’s a better deal than a hundred% off? “Dumpster Diving” — the artwork of sourcing still-usable items from the trash — is not anything new. However, there are growing reviews from splendor bloggers and YouTubers claiming to attain unfastened lipsticks, nail polishes, eye shadows, and other items by sorting through the gadgets that Ulta, Sephora, and others throw out. Is this legal, and if so, is it safe?

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While you may not think two times about salvaging a bookshelf or rocking chair from the shrink, you may raise an eyebrow at the concept of the usage of a bottle of basis or palate of blush plucked from the trash.

Over the holiday weekend, two teenage women have been stopped by police for rummaging via the dumpster of a Texas Ulta, WFAA reports.

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The women advised police that they had watched films on Facebook in which humans claimed to have observed stashes of perfectly accurate make-up in Ulta’s dumpsters.

While the 2 young adults only determined rubbish, the police inform WFAA that they could have come domestic with something extraordinary: a ticket for trespassing.

Additionally, if they had determined cosmetics, they may have walked away with a bottle complete with an infection-inflicting product.

With the trap of scoring loose merchandise engaging splendor enthusiasts, right here are three belongings you need to recognize before you hop in the dumpster and convey domestic closing season’s need-to-have lipstick.

Is Dumpster Diving Legal?

The legality of dumpster diving isn’t pretty as clear-cut as “sure, you can” and “no, you couldn’t,” it’s greater of a gray vicinity.

The well-known idea of dumpster diving received an oblique stamp of approval in 1988 while the USA Supreme Court ruled in California v. Greenwood that police didn’t need a warrant to look at someone’s trash that was left on the scale down.

While this doesn’t explicitly declare that dumpster diving is authorized, it does set up that you have no affordable expectation of privateness for trash that’s ignored at the slash.

“It is not unusual know-how that plastic rubbish baggage left alongside a public road is without problems accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and different members of the public,” the court docket ruled. “Moreover, respondents positioned their refuse at the slash for the explicit cause of conveying it to a third-celebration, the trash collector, who would possibly himself have sorted via it or accredited others, which includes the police, to do so.”

However, in reality, the SCOTUS ruling simplest applies to trash that’s effectively omitted in public. For instance, police would nevertheless want a warrant to look at the trash cans inner your house.

Trespassing continues to be illegal, so if a company’s dumpster is on personal, restrained property, you can violate local trespassing laws. This is on non-public assets, towards the side of construction, or in an area marked with a “no trespassing” signal. In this example, the individual could be ticketed or arrested via police if they’re caught rummaging thru a dumpster.

“An individual can be committing a minor trespass offense by using accomplishing right into a privately owned dumpster, mainly if the dumpster is on private belongings,” explains Darryl Brown, O.M. Vicars Professor of Law at the University of Virginia.

Brown notes that dumpster divers might not face theft fees for anything they do take from a dumpster, as “Stuff that human beings have thrown away in dumpsters and different trash boxes are usually taken into consideration to be legally ‘deserted” using them.”

One exception, says the professor, is waste receptacles where the assets proprietor gets paid for anything in that container. For instance, we recently noted the uptick in thefts of eating place grease from locked dumpsters. Eateries with these grease bins normally acquire money whilst the old cooking oil is sold to a refiner.

“That form of cloth would now not be abandoned, and taking it may be a robbery,” says Brown. “But that’s pretty uncommon.”


There are a few regions of u. S . A. Where dumpster diving is expressly forbidden, some cities have enacted ordinances outlawing the exercise, most often in the name of protecting citizens from identity theft.

For example, in 2005, the Layton, UT, city council surpassed an ordinance outlawing dumpster diving. The Associated Press said that the degree becomes considered a manner to help save you identity theft.


Even if you’re no longer trespassing and you can’t be charged with the objects you salvage, you need to be careful to now not to get messy. While it is probably less complicated for scrounging functions to throw all stuff you don’t want off to the side of a dumpster, leaving that trash there could get you in trouble for littering or possibly vandalism.

Is It Safe?

Putting apart the felony issues for a second, the mere act of dumpster diving increases numerous fitness worries: You should harm yourself even as jumping into the garbage receptacle, you could convey home a pest (like bedbugs) whilst you retrieve a chair, apparel, blanket or other objects, or you could contract contamination from tainted splendor merchandise.

In the case of those seeking out high-quit cosmetics or different splendor products, the objects had been thrown out for a purpose — they may have been lower back, or they are probably expired.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned that the use of shared or expired merchandise is not a very good idea.

“It’s critical to apply beauty merchandise adequately,” a rep for the FDA tells Consumerist. “Cosmetics need to be saved nicely, in smooth and tightly closed packing containers, to avoid potential infection with dangerous microorganisms. Sharing cosmetics or the usage of doubtlessly contaminated merchandise can reason infections or different critical health issues.”

For example, the shelf life for eye-region cosmetics — like mascara, eyeliner, or eyeshadow — and “all herbal” products are more limited than for other items. Both of these styles of products are extra conducive to microbial growth, which could lead to infections.

The FDA additionally warns against sharing beauty products as it may increase the danger of contamination. In dumpster diving, these shared products could come in the form of discarded “tester” items or products again by using other clients. You might experience cozy sharing make-up along with your fine buddies, but do you consider every person that’s ever shopped at Sephora or Ulta?

Additionally, the unsuitable storage of cosmetics may want to reason untimely expiration and boom of microorganisms. So if that tube of mascara has been sitting within the warm dumpster for a few days, it can incorporate infection-causing microorganisms.