Would you buy used makeup? Singaporeans weigh in on the pre-loved beauty movement

Would you buy used makeup? Singaporeans weigh in on the pre-loved beauty movement

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Text: Emily Heng

At the risk of sounding like know-it-alls, the Buro. Singapore team is all about saving the environment. Associate Lifestyle Editor, Janice Sim, has ditched disposables for good; Fashion Editor, Jolene Khor, champions sustainable clothing labels; while Culture Editor, Aravin Sandran, uses ecologically sound cutlery when wolfing down his popiah (alongside various other gastronomic delights). You may think our efforts admirable — but it seems we're no match for the new age eco-warrior. Meet the second-hand beauty shopper.

Yes, it's exactly as it sounds, and yes, they exist. From luxury eyeshadow palettes to hyped lip kits, folks are snapping up (and sporting!) used makeup offerings. Purchased primarily from platforms such as Carousell and Shopee, the popularity of this practice is credited to consumers' rapidly-growing proclivity for sustainability and affordability. Heck, there are even chat groups dedicated to buying and selling pre-loved beauty products — hygiene be damned. Or is that truly the case? We speak to an advocate and naysayer to get a full picture of the movement.

"I trust the people I buy from": Arielle Lim, 25

I won't say I speak for the entire community, but I find that people tend to misunderstand why we buy secondhand in the first place. The low price point is one of the biggest draws, of course, but it goes beyond saving money. It's about living am authentically zero-waste lifestyle.

People tend to make a big deal about it because they don't realise the precautions we take to ensure its all safe-to-use. I wipe down everything I get with rubbing alcohol, and remove the top layer of all my powders and lipsticks with a clean blade. For mascaras, I use a separate applicator so I'm not using the one from the tube. I haven't had a negative experience so far, and I've been doing this for about two years. I make it a point to check the product's expiration date when I get it, too, but there hasn't been an instance where I was "scammed." In my experience, it's a pretty close-knit community, and I tend to trust the people I buy from.

A lot of the time, the products are barely used, and it allows me to test out expensive or luxury products without breaking the bank. Sellers also get to offload products to parties who'd use and appreciate it, which reduces carbon emission production because no one is dumping and incinerating their stuff. Everybody wins.

"Health is wealth": Lycia Ang, 24

Don't get me wrong, I've definitely considered purchasing pre-loved beauty products, but the hygiene aspect always stops me. Sure, you can sanitise things or use different applicators, but you can't tell if the whole item is already contaminated with bacteria. This applies especially to liquid items, like foundations or mascaras. Sounds like a hotbed of germs and microorganisms, if you ask me.

I looked up the risks of buying pre-loved makeup before sending you this, and it's a lot worse than I feared. Fungal infections are a given, but as it turns out, you'll also be susceptible to folliculitis (hair follicle infection), impetigo (skin infection), conjunctivitis (eye infection), and even herpes because they can survive on dry, inanimate surfaces for up to eight weeks. Worst case scenarios include facial scarring and incurable diseases.

Props to people willing to take the chance, but it's not for me. I think I'd only ever reconsider if I'm getting it from a friend, or someone I trust. They'll probably be honest with me on how used the item really is. But in the end, I'd say I rather spend more on new, unused makeup than to incur a hefty hospital bill. Health is wealth and all that, right?