6 Steps For Organizing Even The Most Overwhelming Makeup Collection

There’s something really satisfying about sorting all my cosmetics into their own little space.
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Alle
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There’s something really satisfying about sorting all my cosmetics into their own little space.

A couple weeks ago, I showed you guys my five-minute makeup routine and you told me all about yours. And I noticed that there was a common lament: “I could probably do this faster, but I can never find the makeup I need!”

If there’s only thing you ever learn from me, make it this: Disorganisation is expediency's worst enemy. If you don’t know where your stuff is, you can’t get ready quickly or efficiently.

So today we’re going to talk about something near and dear to my heart: organisation! I’m going to show you guys how I keep my formidable makeup collection organised, as well as give you some ideas about how you can get yours well-sorted too.

1. Invest in a good case.

Are you shoving all your nice makeup into a beaten-up shoebox under your bed? Come on, we are grownups. We can do better than that.

Most of my makeup lives in a steel traincase that I bought over ten years ago from Sephora. It is the best hundred-odd dollars I have ever spent.

MY PRECIOUS!

MY PRECIOUS!

This case has been through eight major moves, three trips to and from Australia, and on more public transportation adventures than I can count. It has nary a scratch on it. The case itself is made of metal rather than metal-covered cardboard, so you’ll never have that moment where you go to pick it up and find yourself holding a handle (and nothing else). The small feet on the bottom mean that it won’t scratch up hardwood floors or vintage counters, and the sturdy double-locks make sure everything is safe and secure inside. 

Plus, it looks way more chic than a plastic container flopping around on the floor. It’s wonderful.

Speaking of inside, that’s where this case REALLY shines.

Only not literally, because it's still drying.

Only not literally, because it's still drying.

Instead of being lined with cardboard or plastic, the drawers are made of a solid yet squishy material. This soft foam helps keep my teeniest perfume samples from breaking, even as the case itself is jostled around. It’s also really easy to keep clean--a washcloth and some soapy water, and you’re good.

The dividers are removable, so that you can customise the size of each section. This is SO HELPFUL--gone are the days of Hulk Smashing one’s Caboodle because it doesn’t have a section long enough for mascara!

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Finally, down at the bottom are deep partitions. I usually keep my brushes down here, but they’re definitely deep enough to stand up bottles of foundation. This is really important, especially if you have a lot of them.

The best thing about this case, though, is that it’s positively TARDIS-like in its capacity for storage. As I’ve said, I have had this one for ten years and it’s only in the last six months or so that it’s gotten full. It holds a lot of stuff. I didn’t plan to take this photo, but allllllllll this makeup fits perfectly into this case.

DID I BLOW YOUR MINDS?

DID I BLOW YOUR MINDS?

When you guys are looking at cases, make sure you ask yourself the serious questions: Is it big enough? Does it have the right kind of space for everything that I need? Is it easy to clean? Can I transport it without much hassle? Is it sturdy? Because honestly, what is the point of buying awesome makeup if you don’t have something good to keep it in?

2. Location, location, location.

As much as I love my makeup case, I do not keep all of my products in it. Lip colours, for example, primarily live on the edge of the vanity in my bedroom.

Quite the collection.

Quite the collection.

This is because, like a lot of people, I skip most makeup on my off days. When I’m running errands, I usually get dressed, kiss my dog on the head and then zip out the front door. I always like to wear a lip colour, but I don’t make a detour to the bathroom to dig through my case, so it makes way more sense for me to keep them where they are accessible.

This also helps keep me organised, because I can see exactly what I have. No more buying multiple pink lip glosses, all exactly the same, because I’ve forgotten that I already have one. Now, whether I’m just walking Oliver or road-testing a look to write about, I know exactly what I have.

3. Divide and conquer: type.

When I first took my makeup out of its ratty shoebox and transferred it into my shiny new traincase, the question was “How am I going to split this up?”

For me, the answer was pretty simple: divide first by type, then by colour.

First, let’s talk about type. Here this refers broadly to product, or what beauty “area” things are for.

Foundations, primers and powders go in one deep bottom section, loosely designated “skin.” This has grown to include all concealers that I like, but don’t use on a daily basis.

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Blushes, bronzers and shimmer powders/highlighters live across the way in the "shine" section. This used to include loose glitter, but I don't have a lot of that anymore.

MUCH COLOUR. SO BLUSH. WOW.

MUCH COLOUR. SO BLUSH. WOW.

Eye and lip liners have their own area. These guys are grouped together more by shape than anything else, and this section now also includes a couple mascaras.

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Fake lashes hang out by themselves because they’re delicate, and a few of my more major lip colours hang out across the way.

Finally, brushes (and other tools, like lash curlers and combs) live in their own section. They all lay down, which keeps them nice and the bristles unbent.

Splitting up products not only gives you a really good idea of the products that you have (as well as showing you the stuff that you need), it also makes it really easy to find everything--especially the little, prone-to-getting-lost stuff, like lash glue and thin eyeliners.

4. Divide and Conquer: colour.

The product that I have the most of is eyeshadow. I have so much of it, and I love it all!

My dragons!

My dragons!

But figuring out how to keep it organised was a bit of a challenge. I used to just keep it all piled in one of the deep sections at the bottom of my case, but that was a disaster. I was spending 20 minutes searching for the one bronze eyeshadow that I needed--no, not that one, the OTHER one--which was not expedient when it came to getting to class on time.

Eventually I settled on splitting my eyeshadows up by colour. This way I only have to look to the general area to find the shade I’m looking for.

This pleases me in a deep, weird way.

This pleases me in a deep, weird way.

Because some colours are over-represented, the customisable dividers are once again seriously helpful. Now I can have a big section for my browns, bronzes and taupes--seriously self, why so many?--and a littler section for my purples and pinks.

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Knowing exactly where everything is really helps me do even the most complicated eyeshadow looks quickly.

5. Have an “every day” section.

There is a section in my makeup case that doesn’t seem to belong. It’s crowded with a hodgepodge of small brushes, eyeshadows, concealers, liners and mascaras.

One of these things is not like the others... actually, none of them are.

One of these things is not like the others... actually, none of them are.

But if you know anything about my makeup routine, you may recognise some of these items as those that I use every day. Keeping them all together like this is the very best way for me to get made up and get out the door in under five minutes. Who has time to wonder where they put their concealer? NOT ME!

This trick only works if you make sure to put stuff back after you’ve used it. If you’re a person who uses an eyeliner, sets it down and forgets about it, this can be hard to do. Establishing good habits ARE hard! But think about how much you want to stay organised, and how quick your makeup routine will be once you’ve got this down. Let that be your motivation.

If you don’t have a makeup case, that is OK! Set out a space on your counter, vanity, bedside table--anywhere, really--and lay out the products that you use most frequently. So long as everything goes neatly back when you’re done, anything will work.

6. Designate an overflow area.

You’re probably looking at my case and thinking “There’s no way that’s all the makeup that Alle has.” And you would be right. My case houses what I call my “normal” makeup. My “work” makeup primarily lives in a series of bags under my desk.

Spot the xoVain sticker on my wall!

Spot the xoVain sticker on my wall!

This is some of the makeup that I use for specific looks, rather than for every day. Because I love keeping bags within bags, I split products in here up by type and occasionally by brand, so that it’s very easy for me to find stuff.

The post-its say "eyes," "fragrance samples," "lips," "face/skin" and "nails" all the way in the back.

The post-its say "eyes," "fragrance samples," "lips," "face/skin" and "nails" all the way in the back.

I have a freakishly good memory, so I always have a good record in my head of the stuff I own. If I didn’t, I would probably keep a spreadsheet of the products and colours that I had to keep organised, and also to prevent me from accumulating duplicates.

Having this overflow area prevents me from stuffing my case to the brim with makeup I only seldom use, which in turn helps me remain organised. And when I need, say, a neon orange eyeshadow? I know exactly where to get it!

Any other Australians remember those weird Kookai ads back in the 90s?

Any other Australians remember those weird Kookai ads back in the 90s?

Keeping my makeup organised makes it about a million times easier for me to keep my beauty game--and life--on point. And maybe it’s just me, but there’s something really satisfying about sorting all my cosmetics into their own little space. I like knowing that everything is in its right place.

Things organised semi-neatly.

Things organised semi-neatly.

How do you organise your makeup, everyone? Bonus points for pictures!