Decluttering Your Makeup Collection For Good

how to declutter your makeup


ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I may not be a firsthand expert when it comes to makeup and beauty products, but I know a lot about winning decluttering methods that can help you parse through the toiletries that are littering your bathroom counters and drawers.

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Which Makeup Products Should I Declutter?

Which Makeup Products Should I Declutter

Makeup, toiletries, and beauty products are some of the biggest culprits in clutter crime. You take a sample mascara here, a quicky snagged travel-sized lotion there, another little beauty product splurge in the dollar section, and before you know it, your bathroom cabinets are filled with items you’ve never even used.

When it comes to deciding which beauty products to declutter and which ones to keep around, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you reorganize and prioritize your precious counterspace.

what makeup to declutter

Questions To Ask Yourself When Decluttering Old Makeup

Questions To Ask Yourself When Decluttering Old Makeup

As with anything in the world of minimalism, intent matters. It’s important to be intentional with the why behind your decluttering spree so that you can keep your eye on the prize when you’re in go mode. I have a list of intentional questions that might be helpful when decluttering makeup and toiletries.

When Decluttering Your Makeup, Ask Yourself

  • When was the last time that I used this product?
  • Does the color palette of this product complement my natural features?
  • Would I recommend this makeup product to a friend?
  • Do I actually like the product, or do I like the brand?

declutter challenge

Determine The Makeup Products You Use Regularly

Determine The Makeup Products You Use Regularly

As a minimalist, I can’t justify keeping any items around just for the heck of it. With makeup especially, it can be easy to keep products just in case we want to use them later, just because they look nice, just because they’re a fancy brand, or what have you.

However, the key to decluttering makeup and toiletries like a minimalist is to genuinely evaluate the items you use regularly, and separate these from the ones you dream to use someday.

Two very handy decluttering rules that I use to do this are the 90/90 decluttering rule and the 20/20 decluttering rule. Both of these minimalist rules can help you track how frequently you use your products.

20-20 decluttering rule

How To Determine If A Makeup Product Has Expired

How To Determine If A Makeup Product Has Expired

If you have a product in your makeup drawer that you haven’t used in years, there aren’t a ton of reasons to keep it around. However, with makeup specifically, it can be hard to tell if a product is actually expired. After all, beauty products don’t exactly come with an expiration date.

However, there are a few ways you can tell if a makeup product is expired that you might not know about. First, you can check the Period After Opening (PAO) date, which is printed on the product and shows how long after opening that you should use it. Not every product has this, so you can also often find out the product expiration by scanning the barcode on the back of the bottle or tube. If neither of those methods are available, use this list to help you get an idea of when to toss a product.

Shelf Life Of Makeup Products

  • Foundation: 2 years
  • Concealer: 1 year
  • Mascara: 2-4 months
  • Eyeliner: 3-6 months
  • Eyeshadow: 2 years
  • Lipstick: 1 year
  • Lip-gloss: 2 years
  • Powder: 2 years
shelf life of lipstick

How To Declutter Your Makeup In Seven Simple Steps

How To Declutter Your Makeup

Once you have a solid idea of what you hope to declutter, it’s time to dive right in. With any decluttering regimen, I always start by sorting the items and then putting them in categories of what to keep and give away. I use the four-box method because it helps me to sort products into four tangible categories: throw away, give away, keep, and store.

1Put Items Into Smaller Categories

First things first when it comes to decluttering makeup and toiletry products: sort your items. Literally turn those makeup drawers and cabinets right onto your floor, counter, or another central dumping ground. Get all of those products out in the open.

Then, start putting your items into smaller, more manageable categories. Decluttering can easily become daunting and overwhelming when you try to tackle everything you own in one fell swoop. Smaller categories are far more digestible.

Categories Of Makeup To Declutter

  • Foundation, concealer, creams, powders
  • Mascaras
  • Liquid eyeliner, liner pencils
  • Eyeshadow (individual and palettes)
  • Lipsticks, gloss, lip balm, lip liner
  • Costume makeup (falsies, glue, face jewels, etc.)
  • Makeup brushes, sponges, tools
  • Nail polish, manicure tools
Categories Of Makeup To Declutter

2Discard Empty Or Expired Products

Next, take a look through each of the categories that you’ve created and determine which products are expired based on the advice above. Throw out anything that’s beyond its expiration date.

If you don’t know the exact expiration date, take a closer look and throw it out if it’s crusty, extra sticky, or smells foul. There’s no need to put anything in that state on your skin! You should also discard any empty or near-empty makeup tubes or containers.

3Discard New, Unused Products

This is a category that people don’t often think about when decluttering their beauty products. Not only do you want to prioritize nixing expired products, but you’ll also want to get rid of all of those brand-new products that have just been sitting in your makeup cabinet collecting dust.

It may be tempting to keep unused products around in case you need or want to use them someday. However, if you haven’t needed it so far, it’s not very likely you’ll want to use it down the line.

declutter brand new makeup products

4Set Aside What You Know You’ll Keep Per Category

Now that you’ve gotten all the unused and overused beauty products out of the way, you’re left with the items you use regularly. However, it’s likely that you still have more makeup products at your disposal than you want to have by the end of your decluttering process.

Take this time to set aside the items that you know you want to keep. These might be the makeup products you use every single day. Maybe it’s a beloved lipstick shade that you always whip out for fancy events. Identify the items you plan to keep for sure.

5Parse Through The Makeup Items Left Over

All you should have left at this point in your categorical piles are the makeup products that you’re on the fence about. Defer to that list of questions at the beginning of this post to help you decipher which items to add back into your collection and which ones you plan to give the boot!

6Tackle Your Makeup Tools

Don’t forget about your tools, brushes, and sponges! Your beauty tools are just as much a part of your makeup collection as any of the products you’ve gone through during your decluttering venture.

discard old makeup brushesThe same rules apply here. Discard any caked-on sponges, frayed brushes, clogged blenders, or anything that hasn’t been cleaned in years.

When you use old brushes and sponges for too long, they add unwanted bacteria to your healthy skin. Get rid of those old, gross tools and make room for fresh, clean ones.

Viola! All you should be left with at this point are the makeup products and tools you plan to keep in your collection for the long haul.

Tips To Maintain A Clutter-Free, Organized Makeup And Toiletry Collection

Tips To Maintain An Organized Makeup Collection

The last thing you want to deal with after putting in all that work is for your makeup collection to immediately become a disorganized mess again. I wanted to share a few simple tips to help keep your makeup collection from getting cluttered as soon as you clear it out!

Organizing Your Makeup Collection Tips

  Follow A One Product In, One Product Out Rule

I apply a one item in, one item out rule to most of my decluttering sessions. What I mean by this is that I don’t let myself buy something new until I’ve discarded an old product. This is a good habit to get into in general because it will keep clutter from piling up in all areas of your life.

  Don’t Stock Up On Small Sample Sizes

I know it may be tempting to snatch up every sample size in Sephora under the impulse of wanting to try out new makeup products, but this is one of the easiest ways to fill your drawers with products that you don’t actually need. Instead of stocking up on sample sizes that you don’t end up liking or using, take the time to invest in full sizes of the high-quality products that you already know you enjoy.

  Be Honest About What Truly Works For You

We often buy makeup and beauty products similarly to the way that we travel: we buy for our dream selves. With the advertising overload that goes on in the world of beauty, it can be easy to get caught up and spend hundreds of dollars on products that we think we want.

One of the best ways to keep your makeup collection clutter free long term is to identify the products that you know actually work for you. Be honest about which products complement your skin, eyes, and face structure, and invest in those first.

  Don’t Buy More Storage Space

One of my favorite tips when trying to keep any groups of small items clutter free (like makeup, office supplies, or miscellaneous trinkets and doodads), is to refrain from buying more storage space. This means that if there is a designated drawer for your makeup products and the drawer gets filled, it’s time to empty it.

Don’t go out of your way to buy new plastic drawers or additional bins and boxes just to fill them. Stick to what you already have!

  Keep Makeup Items Sorted In Categories

Another stellar tip for keeping your makeup from piling up is to keep your items sorted into their respective categories, even after the decluttering process has ended. Organize your makeup similarly to the way you would organize sections of food at a grocery store.

Keep lipsticks with lipsticks, eye liners with eye liners, and beauty brushes with beauty brushes. If you keep your products sorted, it will be much easier to see which items you have too much of and need to be decluttered again.

Helpful Organizers For Makeup Products

Keep Your Makeup Storage Simple

Keep Your Makeup Storage Simple

Overall, the key to keeping a clutter-free, well organized makeup collection comes down to sticking with the basics.

Keep only your essentials on-hand, with a few extras that make you feel great on special occasions, and make sure every item has a place to live.

After all, when you feel good about your space, it’s easy to wear that glow all day long.

simple makeup storage

Your Turn!

  • What makeup products will you keep and discard when you declutter?
  • Which tips will you use to keep your makeup collection clutter free in the future?

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