THERE’S nothing wrong with owning dozens of mascaras, several shades of nude lipstick, or even shelves crammed with serums and moisturisers – if you plan to use them.
And it’s completely understandable to want to hang on to a certain product because it was limited-edition or has fancy packaging, but if it’s never been worn and storage is becoming a bit of an issue, it’s time for some admin.
Here’s how to downsize your collection quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing too many of your beloved buys.
STEP 1: CLEAR THE DECKS
Start by getting everything out of the bathroom cabinets, the back of your wardrobe and even those storage boxes in the loft.
It may be a little shocking to realise how much you’ve accumulated over the years, but seeing everything laid out will allow you to make decisions on what you want to keep, throw away or re-home to friends, family or charity.
STEP 2: CHECK PRODUCT EXPIRY DATES
Like food, beauty items have a shelf life.
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If you’ve invested, it can be tough to let things go, but if it’s past the expiry date, it won’t work as efficiently and can cause skin irritation.
Have you ever noticed a little open jar symbol followed by a number and the letter “M” on your skincare packaging?
This is the period after opening (PAO), which indicates the number of months the product is advised to be used by once opened.
For make-up, mascaras last from three to six months, liquid or cream foundations anywhere from six months to a year, lipsticks last about 18 months, and dry formulations such as powder, blush and setting powders are good for up to two years.
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But if it looks or smells a bit off, it probably is, so bin it.
STEP 3: RE-HOME
This is the pile for products that are still in date, but you’re unlikely to use.
Consider donating unopened products to a charity, such as Beauty Banks (Beautybanks.org.uk).
Alternatively, see if any local organisations need raffle prizes or donations.
For opened products that are still in good nick, your family and friends may well love to be treated to some beauty booty.
If not, take it to a recycling bin at your local Boots store – you’ll earn Advantage Card points in return!
STEP 4: EDIT
Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting suggests that the essentials of a perfect capsule skincare wardrobe include: a cleanser and a micellar water; two moisturisers (one lighter and one richer, so you have some flexibility, depending on the season and your skin type); two sunscreens (a great untinted one for everyday use and a water-resistant one, possibly with a tint for no-make-up days), and lastly, actives such as an antioxidant, like vitamin C, to use in the mornings, and a “stimulator“ like a retinoid for evening use.
With make-up, place all your items on the floor and arrange them into separate categories to work out what you’ve got repeats of.
Now pick out your staples that you wear most days to keep in your beauty arsenal.
Little extras like a TikTok-trending lipstick or a celeb-approved highlighter can be added in as and when needed, but only on the condition that you know you will get sufficient, if not total, use out of them.
STEP 5: ORGANISE
Vanity case: Store everything in one place and carry it with you wherever you go.
Complete with mirror and handy compartments, it’s the ultimate beauty buff’s accessory.
We love the Nyx Professional Makeup Artist Travel Case, £50.
Drawer organisers: These help to keep certain product types together: serums in one section, eye creams in another, and so on.
They also allow you to stack your products vertically, which then helps you save on space.
Shower caddy: Not sexy, but perfect to keep all those unglamorous but nonetheless essential items, like soap, shower gels and shampoos, out of the way and in one place.
Clear make-up bags: These allow you to see your products, and if you can see them, you’re more likely to use them.
Primark, Boots and Superdrug all offer these at very purse-friendly prices.
Similarly, Mason jars in different sizes are good for storing make-up pencils, hair grips and cotton buds.
Applicator storage: Brushes and sponges can be a breeding ground for germs, especially if they are not cleaned regularly.
So decant brushes into clear acrylic organisers and put sponges into a sponge-holding stand (yes, they do exist).
A quick search on Amazon.co.uk will give a variety of options for both.
Rotating organiser: A great option if you’re tight on space, this allows you to store and get to all your products in a simple spin.
The Home Edit & iDesign Divided Turntable Storage Container, £22, John Lewis & Partners, is brilliant for tricky corners, where space is often unused.
Refills: Most reputable beauty brands offer refillable options for many products.
This means, because you don’t have to buy a new bottle, you get to cut down on waste and space, and get refills of your favourites instead.
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Backup storage: It’s good to have a supply of beauty reserves, but don’t try to hide them completely out of sight, as you’ll end up buying duplicates you already have.
An over-the-door rack is ideal or a box at the bottom of your wardrobe labelled with what’s inside.
The best do-it-all palettes
Another good way to pare back your make-up haul and prevent clutter is to focus on multi-purpose palettes, like these…
Morphe 2 Quad Goals Multi-Palette in Oh-So Nuddie, £16: Playful formulas that can be easily applied with a mere swipe of the finger, housed in a neat stack.
Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette in Beauty Glow, £49: A bronzer, highlighter, two blushers and three eyeshadow – it’s the perfect weekend-away palette.
Sculpted By Aimee Connolly Radiance Full Face Edit, £32: Buildable, pretty finishes for the whole face – if ever you needed a handbag staple, this is it.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, £42: Three highlighters and three contour shades make it a secret weapon for defining, sculpting and brightening.
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