Amy M. Spagnola


How To: 5 Tips for Ulta Dumpster Diving

As the old saying goes, "One man's trash, is another man's treasure." In no case is this more applicable than in the world of dumpster diving. If you've never heard of it, think it's just for hobos and desperate people or is a nasty, dirty thing to do--you're all wrong. Diving for trash--also means diving for treasure. There are countless stories online of mad hauls, incredible loot and fierce freebies from some casual dumpster diving.

The beauty retailer chain Ulta has become a popular spot for aspiring divers. From perfume to palettes, there is a never-ending supply of throw away items that are comprised of barely used returns, off-season haircare and clearance cosmetics. Before I learned of the phenomenon of Ulta diving, I assumed the mega makeup giant would donate all extra merchandise--this is not the case. In fact, many Ulta stores purge all 'throw away' items straight into the trash.

Many YouTubers (see HERE, HERE and HERE) claim to have accrued thousands in beauty products and goodies from a single dive. Other stores like Vitamin Shoppe, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walgreens and Big Lots are also popular 'dive chains.' Beauty stores like Sally's and CosmoProf offer potential dive spots as well.

If you're an intrepid beauty lover, unafraid of some crime and punishment and willing to get a little dirty, here are 5 tips to dumpster diving at Ulta.

1.) Nocturnal Prowling
Most Ulta divers like the secrecy, privacy and dignity afforded by nighttime scrap scavenging. Ideally, the Ulta store is closed and rummaging is done with a headlamp, sanitary gloves and a Dexter-esque disposable bodysuit. Also, a flashlight is a must and some empty cardboard boxes are a necessity for loading loot. And getting into trash bins can be tricky business--it's also prudent to bring a step stool or little ladder. If night isn't your jam, scavenging at sunrise is also a great time for diving--especially during summer. 

2.) Scour Every Day
Do not go on a diving binge and rotate Ulta stores. The key for successful diving is keeping records and repeating the same route over and over. It can be hard to predict which stores will unload their excess merchandise at what days and what times. Make sure to be diligent about noting any trash activity in a journal or phone log. 

3.) Gold Digger
Many times, Ulta stores will throw away merchandise in traditional trash bags and layers of plastic sacks. It may take some cutting, digging and maneuvering to expose topnotch trash. Don't expect to pull up to the back of the Ulta lot, jump in a trash can and find a huge Lancome, Vichy and Clinique supply ready for the picking.

4.) Rubbing Alcohol, Sanitizer and Baby Wipes
Once you've managed to find those hardly touched Tarte palettes, unused Olay lotions and like-new Ogx hair oils, it's important to sanitize the goodies as much as possible. Cleaning makeup brushes is a must and lipgloss, eyeliner and lipstick might be unwise to use unless it can be shaved down to the point where the product is fresh. Mascara is probably a risky sanitary bet. Nail polish and hair accessories are likely two of the safer items.

5.) Organizing and Sorting
Many items found in a dumpster are ruined by products that have leaked, spilled or contaminated other products. Prepare to bring home a lot of stuff--good, bad and icky. In all likelihood, there will be the need to throw away or donate tons of products.

Dumpster Haul

1 comment

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