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5 Steps For Finally Organizing Your Beauty Closet

How to cut back and make the most of what you have.
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I don't know if I've ever started a year as excited and inspired as I have 2020. I'm not typically an excitable person, but come January 1st of this year, I felt an immeasurable amount of anticipation for everything to come. I'm reading more, planning meals extensively, making time for friends, and going to the gym almost every single day. Life is good...yet that completely contrasted with the state of our apartment.

After two and a half weeks on the East Coast, Rob and I returned to our home, and it felt oddly cluttered. It wasn't something I noticed before we left, but after some relaxing downtime and space from school, work, and the fast pace of daily life, we were able to recognize that our apartment was bursting at the seams. Our once-organized bookshelves had become ridden with books, vintage trinkets, and film canisters, all stacked in precarious piles. Entering my bedroom and bathroom was even worse. A perk of the job means I receive tons of samples and beauty products to try, on top of the many I already buy with regularity. When I looked in my beauty drawers, I was blown away by the disorganization and chaos. It was clearly time for a change, so this past weekend was spent decluttering and organizing everything. Although I donated several bags of clothing and shoes from our closets, I took the most away from cleaning out my beauty collection. Here's exactly how I approached the madness, in case you, too, are feeling the urge to purge and start anew in 2020: 


I'm not a hoarder, but I am attached to a lot of things I own. Sentimentality often brings me down, and I always tell myself that I will start wearing something more, even when I haven't touched it in months. Once all of your beauty and makeup products are out of the drawers, you really start to realize how much you don't need. For my first round of edits, I asked myself when I bought the beauty item. If I didn't know (or have a ballpark idea), I tossed it. Full disclosure, this easily cut my collection by a third. While I do extend some products past their recommended due date (mascara, liner, and shadow in particular), there was a lot of excess that just needed to go. Using expired products can lead to an allergic reaction and possible bacterial infection, so if you're unsure about something, reference this article and get rid of it! 

For my next round of cuts, I picked up each product and asked myself when the last time I used it was. If I could come up with a date (and sometimes I could because my attachment is that strong), I asked myself how many times I've used it over the course of its life. If the answer was only two or three times, I felt safe about adding the product to my "donate to friends" pile. By the end of this question round, I had gone from hundreds of products to a semi-reasonable amount. 


After removing the aforementioned items, I started grouping each remaining product into categories. Within skincare, there's removers, toners, moisturizers, oils, serums, and sunscreen. For beauty, I first separated everything into the area of the face to which it's applied and then the products within that sub-category. Very quickly, you'll start to notice overlap and duplicates. In the same way we approach clothes shopping, repeatedly gravitating towards the same set of colors that look best on us, I, altogether, had multiples of coppery palettes, light-shimmer highlighter, and jet black ink eyeliners. Due to looming expiration dates and the basic fact that no one person can get through 18 eye shadow palettes in that allotted time, it's essential to cut out overlap. I decided to keep the products that were well-loved (but not almost empty), versatile enough to travel with, and a few glittery exceptions (don't forget to keep the things that spark joy!).


Just because I cleaned out my beauty closet doesn't mean I won't be tempted to keep buying. It's a true problem I'm trying to curb in 2020. So, from now on, any time I want to buy something, I will reference the note I've created in my phone that details what I'm out of, what I'm running low on, and what I've been on the search for. If it doesn't meet one of those requirements, it likely does not need to be purchased this time around.


Since I only buy makeup in person, it is typically easier to remember the date of purchase. I exclusively buy skincare online, however, so I still needed to create a clear date tracking system in order to avoid any potential allergic reactions. After buying basic painter's tape, I filled out the proper date for each remaining item and placed it on the bottom of the package. Checking in regularly on the products will ensure that my shelves are cleaned out when it's time for the products to go. 


Part of my beauty hoarding problem is supported by the fact that I store it everywhere. When it doesn't have a designated place, it's hard to tell how much you truly have. Look over your collection and categorize it based on your basic needs. For me, there were PR products I wanted to try (a unique and lucky-to-have category, I know!), beloved skincare I use every night (or try to), daily makeup for the workweek, and the rest of my collection. Before this process, the top of my dresser had everything from deodorant to glitter chunks and fake crystals. I now want everything in my home, including my beauty products, to feel intentional. I bought a metal tray (a great vintage-inspired one here) for the dresser to exclusively display my perfume collection, my pouch of daily makeup needs, a Caudalie setting spray, an old candle full of brushes, and some of my small, favorite investments (an Hermes scarf, similar here, my daily earrings, and a Diptyque candle). 


My daily makeup bag consists of Glossier Boy Brow, Glossier Stretch Concealer, Glossier Cloud Paint, ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara, and my Tarte Bronzer. These few products are my most reached for and need to be in my sightline every morning, next to my mirror.

All other beauty products are organized in my dresser drawer, ready for nights out or experimentation, and still neatly grouped by category and size. Although I skipped on buying clear trays (trying to cut costs in 2020!), they are the best way to separate out brushes, palettes, lip products, and more! 

As for skincare, I wanted to keep it all in one, logical place: The bathroom shelves. Of the two shelves I've claimed as mine, I wanted to have one exclusively for PR samples or products I've yet to try and another for my tried and true staples. Not only will this inspire me to follow my set routine more, but it will also keep everything in one place, next to my mirror and sink, and easy to notice if something isn't being used enough (and should be tossed). 

Overall, the process of cleaning out my beauty collection taught me more about how I want to approach 2020 than anything else: Being mindful and aware of what I already have, investing in the items I've lusted after for longer than a few seconds, and keeping my house as an organized, inspirational place to live, rather than a cluttered cave.  

How are you approaching 2020? Is "cleaning house" how you start? 

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