Update: A rep from Poshmark has reached out to let us know the app does not support the sale of any beauty product that has been used or opened and encourages its users to report these items.
This article was originally published on March 15, 2017.
Archaeologists who dig up our civilization hundreds of years from now will report that we're a culture obsessed with gathering "things." They won't, however, note that we're equally obsessed with purging these things when they're no longer useful to us. Try as we might to hold up our hole-y, pit-stained t-shirt and answer "does it spark joy?" with a simple no, we find ourselves feeling guilty for trashing it. And that's never more true than with beauty products. If it's not completely empty, it seems wrong to toss it.
So, what are you to do? You could recycle — some of our favorite brands offer rewards to those who bring in finished products. You could vow to only buy minis until you're sure you love something enough to blow through a full-size. You could donate your mascara to be used as a brush for a wild animal (seriously). Or you could, but should absolutely not, set up shop.
I guess I knew in some small, faraway part of my brain that people resold used makeup, but it didn't happen in my parts of the internet — it was like the beauty Silk Road. Then, over the weekend, I downloaded Poshmark, an app that lets you shop other people's virtual closets (and bathrooms, apparently).
I got my first taste of the underbelly of online beauty selling when someone asked if I wanted to trade one of my items for one of hers. I clicked over to her closet, quickly scrolled down, and that's when I saw them: half-empty pots of gel eyeliner, palettes so old the entire name had faded off the top, opened body washes — all priced at a few dollars. Shockingly, there were comments below from people who were actually considering purchasing a worn-down nub of drugstore lipstick.
Just so we're clear, I didn't make a trade. But I did fall far enough down the rabbit hole of used product listings — I'm talking mascara, lip liner, eyeliner, blush, foundation, fragrance, lotion... — to realize this practice is indeed a thing. And it's not good for so many reasons.
I wouldn't consider myself a huge germaphobe, but I shudder at the thought of applying lip gloss a stranger was previously using on her lips. It's one thing to borrow your best friend's in a pinch; it's a whole other thing to just cross your fingers and hope the seller doesn't have herpes, stores her products correctly, throws them out on the expiration date, and always uses clean brushes (as opposed to fecal matter-covered ones).
Believe me, I understand the appeal of luxury and limited-edition items — but doesn't all glamour kind of go flying out the window the second you open up someone else's beaten-up box of dingy bronzer that's been sprayed with isopropyl alcohol? And while you can sterilize the wand of, say, a mascara brush, you can't control what bacteria the formula inside the tube has been exposed to.
So before you click to buy, ask yourself: Is saving a few bucks really worth risking breakouts and infections? And if you're strapped for cash, let me ask you: Have you checked out the drugstore beauty section lately? Because that shit is good — and shrink-wrapped in plastic, too.