Spring Makeup Declutter

Beauty Clean…

ADMIT IT: You have that one drawer in your bathroom (or maybe more than one) that looks like a beauty product cemetery. Dusty. Cluttered. Forgotten. Well, this is the time to declutter that mess. Don’t worry – I am not going to tell you to throw it all away, but you do need to know what is safe to keep and what should be tossed, pronto!

First, assess what you’ve got. Lay everything out on a giant white sheet or towel. This clean background allows you to see the shades and textures of your makeup. Separate by category: skincare, makeup, hair care, then again by subcategory according to product type. If you haven’t used it in two years, toss it. Don’t lament over how much money you spent, just set it aside (more on what to do with those products later).

Next, assess the quality of what is left. Any change in color, texture or smell is a telltale sign that it’s past its prime. If the color is separated on your nail polish, even after you shake it, it’s time to get rid of it. Skincare products usually come with an expiration date, so anything expired should go, not only for hygiene purposes, but also for effectiveness. With makeup, it’s also for efficacy purposes – anything that’s dry, cracked or crumbly isn’t going to apply evenly. 

Once you purge the old stuff, look for multiples. How many pink lip glosses do you really need? Keep the one you grab for the most. 

Now that you’ve streamlined your stash, it’s time to organize it. Containers with clear, stackable drawers allow you to see what’s inside (try Caboodles or Separate your makeup according to face, eyes and lips, and then by size to keep everything tidy. Commit to a deep cleaning twice a year, at change of season when you’ll probably swap out your colors and skincare anyway. 

Now for when to toss what. 

Let’s start with concealer and foundation. Concealer has a shelf life of up to one year, while face powders can last up to two years (pressed and loose). Be more diligent about eyeliner, shadow and mascara. Your liner is one of the products to be most skeptical about – and never share with anyone. Pinkeye is no fun! Although the pencil version lasts up to three years, sharpen regularly to avoid bacteria. The twist-up versions should be tossed more regularly. Shadows can last up to three years, but change brushes after two. Mascara is the most important product to change out, and should be disposed every couple of months. The tube can harbor bacteria. Cream products, such as blush and lipstick, have a shorter lifespan and should be tossed after six months. But again, check for a change in smell or texture on a case-by-case basis. You can typically tell by their consistency once they’ve gone bad. To prolong the life of your lipstick, store it in the refrigerator.

Nail polish is one of the easier products to determine whether it’s expired (typically one year, though it depends on the quality). We’ve all had those polishes that clump and no longer go on easily. To salvage polish, pour a little bit of polish remover into the bottle to thin it out. Just be careful not to add too much. 

As for brushes and sponges, sponges should be thrown out after a month. Sponges are meant to absorb, and they do exactly that. In the process, they absorb all kinds of bacteria. So even if you wash it after every use – as you are supposed to – it is not 100 percent clean. Just picture your kitchen sponge every time you apply your makeup and you’ll think twice. Makeup brushes, on the other hand, can be kept for a few years, as long as you are regularly cleaning them (wash with baby shampoo once a month and lay flat to dry.)

Now what? Resist the urge to throw it all in the garbage. Donating these items is a great idea, but for hygiene reasons, the products must be unused. Check your local women’s shelters and churches for who has what needs. Much of what’s left over can be recycled, and some companies, like MAC, Kiehl’s and Lush even offer incentives for bringing back empties.

So now you have room for all those new trends in beauty. Just be sure to keep up with the purging and organizing. After all, you didn’t do all of this work for nothing! •

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