Makeup can be expensive. Very expensive.
A simple tube of lipstick ranges from a few bucks to about $50. High-end foundation can cost close to $70 for a single ounce. Then there's mascara, eye shadow, eyebrow pencils, bronzers, highlighters, concealers and the list goes on.
The final tab to keep a full face of makeup can add up into the hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Most makeup addicts salivate at the thought of finding their favorite makeup brand at a discounted price and will go through lengths to pay less for the product.
For some makeup fans this means getting your hands dirty, literally.
On the search for treasure
Beauty vloggers are dumpster diving for makeup and uploading 'haul videos' to YouTube, showing off their treasure troves of discarded makeup worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
Makeup treasure hunters claim to find like-new products from high-end makeup brand names like Naked, Smashbox, Lancome and Anastasia. Many products are testers, samples or have minimal damage but are still in good, useable condition. The product simply doesn't meet the retail standard to sell on their shelves. Beauty dumpster diving discoveries can include everything from skin care products, makeup, designer perfumes and nail polish, to hair tools such as straightening irons and hair brushes.
One popular YouTuber, Shelbizleee, whose real name is Shelbi, vlogs about a variety of topics including dumpster diving. One her most-watched videos include a huge makeup haul from Ulta Beauty which she valued at more than $2,000.
Shelbi's dumpster find included Smashbox foundation, several Anastasia contour palettes, and a jackpot of partially used high-end designer perfume. Most of the products were used, but in good enough shape to keep for those willing to try it out. Shelbi also found dozens of brand new Lancome mascara, lip gloss and lipsticks.
Like Shelbi, many makeup hunters frequent dumpsters behind major beauty retailers such as Ulta Beauty, but some also search for gold behind drugstores such as CVS, which also sells makeup but at a lower price point.
In the video, Shelbi explains choosing to dumpster dive to avoid spending a lot of money on makeup she likely won't use often. Like Shelbi, many young beauty product lovers don't want to spend their paychecks on makeup, so dumpster diving may sound like an attractive option to cut costs.
Dumpster diving isn't a new trend. People have been dumpster diving for years, looking for everything from discarded food behind grocery stores, to used furniture. While some choose to dumpster dive to save money or in efforts to be less wasteful, others look to turn their found treasures into a business.
Many makeup dumpster divers post their finds for sale in Facebook groups at a very discounted price since most of the time they're either used or if new, still found in a dumpster. Many of these social media groups feature thousands of members, willing to risk a product guarantee for deep discounts.
Some dumpster divers feel comfortable sanitizing lightly used samples with alcohol or makeup sanitizing spray, like the ones retailers use to clean sample products. Other makeup dumpster divers stick to only using their new, packaged finds.
In addition to taking a chance on sanitation, makeup dumpster diving may come with other risks.
Is dumpster diving legal?
In California, dumpster diving is technically not illegal according to a law stemming from a 1988 Supreme Court ruling in California v. Greenwood which held that when trash is discarded in a public place, there is no expectation of privacy.
However, every county and city has different laws. Sacramento city code clearly prohibits scavenging, even if the garbage is placed on the street. Sacramento County also has codes in place (Title 2, Sec. 01.360) stating commercial waste lawfully discarded in bins are the property of the business. Recyclable materials are also the property of the business which discarded the items, according to county code (Title 4, Sec. 01.080).
Commercial businesses within the downtown and midtown areas of Sacramento are required to keep their bins and dumpsters locked which prevents scavenging, according to Brenda Bongiorno, spokesperson for Sacramento County.
Dumpster divers also face being charged with trespassing if there's a "No Trespassing" sign on private property. Trespassing is a mischief or damage infraction in Sacramento, according to a spokesperson with the Sacramento Police Department. A person likely won't get arrested for dumpster diving but it's up to a police officer to make a judgment call.
Retailers are wising up to dumpster divers
Makeup dumpster divers will likely run into many purposely destroyed items while on the hunt. Online blogs and articles explain some retailers require employees to use 'damage tactics' when discarding items, such as adding lotion or conditioner to products to ruin them or cutting the bristles off cosmetic brushes.
The tactics are meant to address the loss prevention issues associated with the dumpster diving.
ABC10 reached out to Ulta Beauty and Sephora multiple times for comment but has not received a response.