Keeping your beauty products organized and easy to grab can be a pain, no matter whether you own a few pared-down products or collect eyeliner obsessively. But a well-sorted collection makes it easier for you to find everything—and also keeps you on top of when it’s time to throw out or replace your products.
“Keeping your makeup collection organized is just as important and game-changing as keeping your wardrobe organized,” says Suzy Gerstein, a Honey Artists makeup artist. “I encourage clients to go through their makeup bag or drawer every season and assess what is working, what needs to go in a separate area for less frequent use, and what additions need to be made to round out their beauty routine based on how their needs might be changing.”
If you’re organizing your makeup from scratch, the first thing to do is gather all your products in one place and evaluate your whole collection.
“It’s really important to go through your makeup and toss whatever you don’t use or anything that may be expired,” says makeup artist Sona Gasparian. “Your makeup can expire and hold bacteria, so it’s crucial to be aware of the general timelines for each product. Most products will let you know on the back or on the packaging when it does expire.”
You can often find a number on the back of makeup items indicating the expiration date. For example, something marked “12M” should only be used for 12 months after opening.
Often, common sense will dictate when a product is past its prime. “If your mascara or lipstick smells off, time to chuck it,” Gerstein says. “If your foundation is separating, time to get rid of that. Powder products tend to have a longer shelf life, but make sure that the color payoff is still there. As eyeshadows and powder blushes age, they tend to lose their hold on the skin. These guidelines hold particularly true for green or non-toxic products, which contain fewer if any chemical fillers or binding agents.”
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The fun part comes after you’ve thrown out old products, replaced your necessities, and ditched anything you don’t use. Then, you can put the internet’s greatest makeup organizing hacks to good use. Here are 10 we love.
If you want to keep things simple, clear, labeled boxes go a long way
Image credit: Jamie Greenberg
That’s what Jamie Greenberg, a makeup artist who works with celebrity clients like Kaley Cuoco, Rashida Jones, and Anna Faris, relies on to keep everything organized and visible.
“If you can see everything you have, you’ll become more efficient in your beauty routine,” Greenberg explains. “Also, if you can see it all, you know what you can use to be creative. If you don’t see your blue liner, you may never experiment with it.”
Group items by brand as well as color
Image credit: Sona Gasparian/Instagram
Especially if you have a large collection, organize your items by product type and then by brand or collection.
“I like to organize my drawers in sections,” Gasparian explains. “I start off with all things lip-related, then move on to the eyes, foundation, and then any additional miscellaneous items. I do try and organize by brand so it’s much easier for me to find a specific [product].“
Buy or DIY a magnetic makeup board
Image credit: Margaret Janicki
If you want everything super visible, apply magnetic tape or stickers–like this set of 30 from Z Palette ($20; amazon.com)–onto the back of your products. Arrange them all on a board, and voila! You can find sleek magnetic boards for under $30 on Amazon.
Use a spice rack to store nail polishes
Image credit: Trisha Bartles/Makeup Files
Mount a spice rack on your wall, or put one on your countertop, to keep nail polishes organized and visible. We like this IKEA birch rack ($30 for a set of 4; amazon.com).
Elegant candle holders make great cosmetics containers
Image credit: Sona Gasparian
“If you have any pretty candle holders, they make the best storage to hold all of your makeup brushes,” Gasparian says.
Once you’re done burning a great candle, pop it in the freezer for a few hours. When it comes out, it will be easy to scrape out the remaining wax. Give the container a quick rinse, then use it to store makeup brushes.
A tiered cake stand can make a pretty display
Image credit: My Darling Clementine
Repurpose an inexpensive dessert stand and organize your products by tier—say, fragrances on the large bottom tier, eyeshadows on the middle tier, and lip products on the top.
Store false eyelashes in a pillbox
Image credit: Stella Rose Saint Clair/Pinterest
Keep all your false eyelash strips in one place in a pillbox. As a bonus, this will prevent the eyelashes from getting squashed if you need to travel with them.
Pop bobby pins and hair barrettes onto a strip of magnetic tape
You can purchase magnetic tape and squares at the hardware store, or online at Amazon ($8) and The Container Store ($13). Put a strip inside your medicine cabinet or below your mirror, so items are easy to grab when you need them.
File your palettes in a mail organizer
Image credit: April Lee/The Pixel Odyssey
Use a letter sorter, like this hammered gold one from Target ($13), to neatly stack eyeshadow and contour palettes.
Depot lipsticks and eyeshadows to create smaller palettes
Depotting is a method popular with makeup artists and collectors. Basically, the idea is that you take makeup out of its original packaging and condense it into smaller palettes. That way you can make custom palettes or downsize your collection for easier storage and transport. Check out YouTube tutorials to learn how to safely and effectively depot your own items.