How to Donate Cosmetics and Toiletries to Tackle Hygiene Poverty

Plastic Free July is a great time to start replacing everyday items with more sustainable options. For me it is a way to evaluate what I am using and what I actually need before finding a suitable alternative. Although this is a great step in the right direction, we do not want to ignore the fact that throwing away old products with life left in order to start using more sustainable products is not a sustainable practice. It is important that we use up the products we have opened first. Alternatively if you have a range of unused products then these can be put to a good use and help people in need.  You can donate them to a number of great organisations across the UK that help tackle hygiene poverty.

What is Hygiene Poverty?

Many people who live in poorer parts of the UK or live in poverty find themselves in a position to choose between paying for food & warmth over hygiene products. Certain products like sanitary products, cosmetics and soaps become ‘luxuries’ which is humiliating and excluding. These products should be available to everyone and are basic necessities.

The Importance of Using up Your Products Before Switching.

With so many people living in hygiene poverty is it so important that people who are fortunate enough to not be in this position do what they can to use all their products before making a switch or buying something new. Liquid skincare/beauty products should not be poured down the sink as they contaminate the water. You can also recycle a lot of the empty containers, so it is important that we try to use these up and recycle before making a switch.

What if you have un-opened products you don’t want?

Every Christmas I get bought at least 2 cosmetic or skincare gift packs. These are often products I don’t want or will not use because my skin is so sensitive. Fortunately, there are a number of amazing organisations in the UK that will take unused and unopened toiletries and donate these to people in need. This helps support the war on hygiene poverty as well as reducing the waste created by products that you might open and use once before leaving them on a shelf for 6 months before finally chucking them in the bin. If you think you won’t use the whole product then try donating it. Here are just some of the organisations I have found which take a variety of new products.

The Beauty Banks

"We believe that being clean is a basic human right, not a luxury and not a privilege. We exist to make 'hygiene poverty' history while supporting those living in poverty in the UK - those who can't afford to be clean - with personal care and hygiene essentials. This is about dignity, self-confidence and mental wellbeing. This is also about change." The Beauty Banks will accept product donations through Drop Point. 

What they accept: Unused - Shampoo, Disposable Razors, Body wash, Face flannels, personal hygiene and essential beauty items, nappies & deodorant. 

Click here to find out how to donate

Dress for Success

“Dress for Success Greater London accepts your gently-used work wear and interview appropriate clothing for women, in all sizes. We also accept handbags, accessories and shoes and any unused cosmetics or toiletries you may wish to donate.” Dress to success will accept donations through Drop Point.

What they accept: Unused - Cosmetics 

Click here to find out how to donate


The Hygiene Bank

“At The Hygiene Bank, we believe each and every one of us should have a dignified life. It's not right that feeling clean should be a luxury or a privilege for anyone in our society, yet many of us are living in poverty and can't afford to be clean. That's why our network of banks exists – to give people access to the basics they need.”

What they accept: New - Nappies, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes, Face wash, Disposable Razors, Body wash and other toiletries.

Click here to see the full list and to donate.


Bloody Good Period

"Menstrual supplies are not cheap, but for anyone with a period, they are, of course, an absolute necessity. We give period products to those who can’t afford them, and provide menstrual education to those less likely to access it. And we help everybody talk about periods. " This organisation works closely with women who are refugees. Although they don’t advertise this massively on their website, they do accept donations of unused & unopened sanitary products and toiletries. You can drop them an email to find out more about where to send these too.

Click here to visit their website


Toiletries Amnesty

Toiletries Amnesty works across the UK and abroad to alleviate hygiene poverty.

"It all started in an airing cupboard back in September 2014. We realised that too many people were living with too many spare, unwanted or unused toiletry products, and that actually these items could be really helpful to others. The original premise was to collect spare toiletries for one homeless shelter in Cambridge, the donations kept coming… we now support almost 200 organisations."

You can find any local charities that accept donations by using their directory. I found a great local charity which I managed to donate a range a unused toiletries to. Depending on the local charity you find, you can send in cosmetics, hygiene products such as sanitary products, beauty products, shampoos & Conditioner etc.

Click here to view their directory


The Lewis Foundation

“At The Lewis Foundation we source, package and hand deliver free gifts and support packs to adult cancer patients in hospital every week – items they might find difficult to buy themselves or simply cannot afford. It can be a sad, frightening and lonely experience for individuals undergoing cancer treatment, and for many people in hospital, our volunteers are their only regular visitors. We rely on donations, fundraising support and volunteers to make a difference.”

What they accept: New - Cosmetics and toiletries like deodorant, Lotion, Shaving gel, Lip balms etc. You can send these through drop point.

Click here to donate

What About Used Products?

Unfortunately I cannot find any organisations that will take ‘gently’ used cosmetics and makeup so if you have something that is open, they try using it before making a switch or see if a friend or family member will get use out of it. Being sustainable is about reducing waste and not buying products unnecessarily. For anyone who has empties, there are also places where you can recycle these such as teracycle or try contacting the company you purchased from to see if they have their own return scheme. I hope you have found this post helpful and let me know if you take advantage of any of these great organisations.

Stay safe

Lucy x



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