Since becoming a beauty writer, my collection of cosmetics has grown into a gross, slobby, overwhelming mess.
I used to be able to count the number of products I owned on two hands, so keeping organized was simple. I had one tiny little pouch and a medicine cabinet that I bought from an antique store and painted, and that was all I really needed.
But as soon as I started buying new things to try (not to mention receiving packages of products), it became clear my system was not going to work anymore. I started shoving products everywhere and anywhere: milk crates in my office, on my desk, under the bathroom sink, on my dresser. They really started to take over my house.
The biggest problem here really stems from the fact that I have the worst bathroom. It is super-tiny, the tiles are cracking, and I don’t even want to talk about the shower situation. I moved in to my apartment for the private backyard and the nice neighbourhood, thinking the bathroom was just a small downfall I could get past. Six months later, I’m still not past it.
Because of the insane tininess (the cat’s litter box barely fit in there), I didn’t have many options when I was shopping around for organizational tools. I couldn’t fit any awesome drawer sets like Hannah uses, and I only had one existing iffy-looking shelf and a scary pit of darkness cupboard to work with. No drawers, no space, no shelving.
So I resolved various little makeup bags were my best bet, and went on a little shopping spree.
I really wanted some of these amazing makeup cases from Groomy, but shipping to Canada was sort of insanely expensive and I just couldn’t justify it. In the end I ordered two Paul and Joe pouches.
I also had the adorable gold and pink pouch that came with my Too Faced brush set, so I figured that would cover me.
When they had all arrived in my mailbox, I got down to work.
For the purpose of not getting horribly overwhelmed, I started off telling myself I’d just try to stick to cosmetics. Nail polishes, hair products and body/face products needed help, too, but the cosmetics situation was by-far the most pressing.
Here’s a step-by-step of what I did:
Get everything together in one place so you can accurately survey the damage. How much do you actually have? What do you have? These are important things to establish early on.
I didn’t actually have that much, but because it was spread out around my house, the problem seemed bigger than it was.
Remove anything that doesn’t belong. I had some random hair clips, some medical supplies, and a whole bunch of gems stuffed in with my makeup, which really didn’t need to be living there. I put the gems in my (very organized) craft cupboard, the medicine in my medicine container, and the hair clips with my other hair clips. I instantly felt a bit better.
If you have a surplus of lip balms like I do, spread them around. Put a balm in each purse, a balm with your face-washing supplies for morning and bedtime, a balm in your bedside table for middle-of-the-night chapping, a balm in your desk at home and desk at work... you get it, right?
Lip balm is one of those things I keep buying even though I never use up a single one, so spreading them out in places I will actually need them helps to diffuse the situation.
Give away anything that you don’t really use. I had a bunch of extra brushes I didn’t need, a junky eyeshadow palette I barely put to use, and a Tony Moly cheek stain that looks horrible on me (like, really bad), so I put them all in a little bag for my friends to pick through. You can also donate anything unopened to women’s shelters.
Throw out the boxes! I am so bad for wanting to keep any sort of cute packaging, but I just put it on “display” and never use it for anything! I allowed myself to keep two cute boxes, and recycled the rest.
Clean your makeup, replace eyelash curler pads, fix (or trash) anything that’s broken, and sharpen your pencils. Now’s a good time to get everything in optimal working order before you put it away again!
Throw out dried-out/used-up products and samples. Make a list of what you need to replace and trash the rest. I had a dried-out eyebrow gel in my makeup bag from the year I graduated high school!
Sort and assign. Once everything in your pile is makeup that needs a proper home, sort it into piles. I sorted mine by lips, face, eyes, and brushes, but you can really sort in any way that you’d like.
Once everything was sorted into piles so I could get an idea of how much I was working with, I assigned each category a place to call home:
Brushes got the pink heart pouch
Lips got the small cat pouch
And everything else got the big(ger) cat pouch! This little case is my new favourite thing because it’s compact but has a ton of great little pockets and places to tuck your makeup bits into. It fit everything I needed it to perfectly, with a teeny bit of room for growth leftover!
I was so pleased with my new system that I went into organizational “clean sweep” overdrive and repeated all these same steps for haircare and skincare, until everything was sorted, clean, and no longer homeless.
Much better, right? I mean, it’s still not the bathroom of my (or anyone’s) dreams, but it’s definitely an improvement! Turns out I had a bunch of stuff crammed into my miniature bathroom (spoons, a mysterious wedding favor, ripped shower caps) that didn’t need to be in there, and once I cleaned all of that out and gave everything a spot, it wasn’t half as claustrophobic as I thought!
How’s your makeup organization game? Show me photos!