How I Organized and Prioritized the Beauty Samples I've Been Hoarding

Having samples jumbled in a drawer isn't going to help you actually use them.
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Morgan
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Having samples jumbled in a drawer isn't going to help you actually use them.

I’m a sucker for a free sample. I’ll go out of my way and sometimes even spend more money if I know there are free tiny things involved. 

I can attempt to justify collecting miniature mascaras and moisturiser packets and tiny plastic jars of foundation, but when it comes down to it, I’ve also got major hoarder tendencies. Not make-a-TV-show-about-me level, but definitely ashamed-to-show-strangers level.

For shame, me.

For shame, me.

Last month, when I dug out a miniature YSL Babydoll mascara to use, though, I discovered it was dried up and nasty, even though I’d never used it. I literally wasted a YSL product because I wanted to keep it for having rather than actually use it up. 

I realised that having my samples jumbled in a drawer wasn’t going to help me use them.

The solution to most problems can be found browsing a storage aisle (seriously, how therapeutic can drawers be?) and this was no different. I found a clear acrylic divider tray whose original function is unclear —drawer organiser? chip and dip holder? — but each well is the perfect size for foil packets.

What are you?

What are you?

I went through my mountain of samples and pulled out any that I knew I would genuinely never use — foundations a bunch of shades too dark, for example, or samples of products I’ve used before and know I don’t like. (Why did I even keep those?)

Then, I divided them into categories. There’s no use keeping any nighttime products in this tray because my makeup desk is in a different room, and I’m terrible at remembering to use products if they’re not literally right next to my pillow. Any night creams or treatments that make my skin more photosensitive have gone into my bedroom for bedtime use.

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The front-left well contains serums and eye treatments, as they’re my first step after washing and toning my skin. I’m keeping a hold of my cleanser samples for taking with me when I travel (and then struggling with in the shower… why are foil packets so hard to open when your hands are wet?).

Front-center contains moisturisers, including a few I’ve heard great things about, like the Yu-Be's and Ole Henriksen's.

Lastly, for skincare, front-right contains sunscreens. I’m more picky about the texture of SPF products, but I know that xoVainers love Tarteguard, so I’ve got high hopes!

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Rounding the corner into makeup, the back-left well holds primers and highlighter-y products. I’m generally dismissive of primers because I don’t find they make a difference, but I’ve already started using a wee tube of Laura Mercier primer, and I think it helps my makeup last longer?

The most exciting section for me is base makeup, perhaps because my skin is a little temperamental and finding a good foundation is hard. There’s a huge selection crammed in here.

Lastly you have the "other" category: mostly Urban Decay eye primers of various finish, and mascaras. I found a By Terry mascara sample in the stash, which I’ve hurriedly fitted into my daily routine so it doesn’t suffer the same fate as my YSL one.

So far, I’ve been disappointed by the Diorskin Nude foundation (I tried both 020 and 030 — too gluggy and they oxidised) and pleasantly surprised by MAC Studio Waterweight (NC20, if you’re wondering). I’m starting to use a primer every day, and while I’m still skeptical, I’m going to give it some more time before writing them off completely.

My brush cups have never fallen out of the window. Yet.

My brush cups have never fallen out of the window. Yet.

The best thing about this system is that it’s right on my makeup desk, so I’m reminded to look through it every day. To be honest, the act of flipping through the samples and choosing something new to try is both relaxing and exciting every morning.

I guess the goal is to clear this thing out completely, but I imagine with the rate that I go shopping, I’ll have new samples to refill it with soon enough.

  • Who else has a stash of samples they’ve been hoarding? 
  • Will you give this system a go?
  • Any other ideas for making use of freebies?