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How Can I Find Discontinued Cosmetics?

By S. McNesby
Updated May 21, 2024
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Discontinued cosmetics still offer plenty of appeal to consumers and are worth seeking out if you have a favorite shade or formula. Just because cosmetics are called discontinued doesn't necessarily mean they are old or out of date; most are simply pushed aside to make room for new shades and offerings. Looking for discontinued cosmetics at drug and department stores, cosmetics warehouse stores, and via online research can yield great results. Cosmetics manufacturers or direct sales representatives can be excellent sources for discontinued items as well.

Some cosmetics companies offer customers the opportunity to purchase discontinued items for up to two years after an item has been removed from the active product line. Contacting the company directly is one way to see if discontinued cosmetics are still available. Department store brands like Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Lancome also sell discontinued cosmetics online, while drugstore brands like Revlon and L'Oreal continue to sell and ship discontinued cosmetics and colors until they run out of stock.

Some online beauty businesses routinely stock discontinued cosmetics; a quick Internet search of the item in question can often identify an outlet with extra stock. Searching the brand name along with the item's name and color will likely yield the most accurate results. One advantage of buying discontinued cosmetics online is that all the legwork can be done without leaving home.

Don't overlook local pharmacies and big-box stores in the search for a discontinued item. When a manufacturer decides to discontinue an item, it simply stops producing it. The discontinued color or formula is not recalled and may very well be in stock on the shelves of a local store. Calling ahead is a good way to save some travel time; most stores know what they have in inventory and can send a clerk to verify the presence of the item when asked.

For direct-sales cosmetics brands like Mary Kay and Avon, an independent sales representative may have items in stock. Even if an individual's sales rep doesn't have a discontinued color or formula in stock, she can likely track it down. Every direct sales organizations has multiple sales representatives, and they are usually more than happy to make a sale — and clear a discontinued item from their inventory.

Once a discontinued item has been located, resist the impulse to overbuy. Cosmetics have a definite shelf life, which varies by the type of item and the manufacturer. Buying a dozen of a discontinued shade may be a great way to stock up, but if the makeup expires before it can be used, it is a waste of money.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On Feb 14, 2014
Also, Heavanet, if you find cosmetics that have been discontinued for a very long time, it's probably not a good idea to use them. I saw a brand for sale online last week that hasn't been produced for at least ten years.
By Heavanet — On Feb 13, 2014

Cosmetics definitely have a longer shelf life than is usually indicated on the package, but there are some signs you should look for before you use them. If they are discolored, cracked, or have a strange smell, they aren't worth the discounted prices.

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