My Favourite Ways to Organise an Abundance of Cosmetics

My Favourite Ways to Organise an Abundance of Cosmetics

Because there are so many kinds and colors of makeup, it’s easy to amass a large collection, even if you only use a small portion of it every day. Having a clean, organized makeup collection is important—not just because it’s more aesthetically pleasing, but because organization can help you keep track of what products you have and when they’re going to expire.

If you’re ready to get a handle on your chaotic cosmetics, I’ll share some organizational principles to get you started, then recommend a few of my favorite items that help me keep my own collection in order.

Basic makeup organization guidelines

When I reorganized my makeup collection last month, I followed a few decluttering techniques to pare down what I had, then invested in a few new organizational tools to pair with the ones I was already using. The end result looks like this:

This took many days.
Credit: Lindsey Ellefson

The prevailing wisdom is that you shouldn’t store your makeup in the bathroom, since the humidity is no good for it and you don’t want bathroom germs all up in your brushes and other materials you regularly press into your face—but not all of us have the square footage to make that a reality. If you have the space to keep a vanity in your bedroom or a walk-in closet or something, that’s awesome. Personally, I don’t, so mine is all stored on a shelving unit over my toilet.

Make the best of the space you have and remember that the guidelines out there are dependent on your living conditions. (And if you’re going to complain about my over-the-toilet setup in the comments, which has happened before, feel free to send me the money to get a bigger apartment.) If you have to store your stuff in the humid confines of your bathroom, do try to cover up the brushes and sponges so they’re not getting befouled. Keep your toilet lid shut and run your fan.

Other than that, do try to keep up with the general expiration dates of your products. A palette can last forever—but that doesn’t mean it should. It’s not necessarily that the color payoff or product integrity will decline over time (though they may, slightly) but that this stuff just gets dirty. You can use a site like Check Cosmetic to determine the expiration of your specific products. Personally, though, I try to extend mine as long as I can by putting some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and lightly misting my palettes and powders every once in a while. Makeup gets gross for the same reason brushes do: Repeated contact with skin. You clean your brushes, so you also have to stay on top of the age and integrity of your products.

Classic makeup organization products

When it comes to makeup organizing, you have classic options and a few unorthodox ones. I like to use a combination of both. Let’s start with the standard stuff.

Above, you’ll see the gold standard in makeup organizing: The humble acrylic shelving unit. These come in all kinds of sizes and configurations but typically feature a few small holes for lipstick, some drawers, and some larger, built-in containers for brushes, eyeliner, or anything vertical. There are some nice variations available, like these:

My sneaky makeup organizing hacks

And now for the more, shall we say, creative organization tools. Don’t get me wrong: I have a lot of those standard acrylic organizers. But I’ve also found other cool tools that are ostensibly designed to do something else, but work great for storing makeup.

A letter holder works great for palettes. My issue with storing palettes in drawers is that it’s hard to remember what you’ve got when you need it. Having them stored somewhere you can see them—but still organized—is more helpful here. I also use adhesive floating shelves for this, as it saves counter space.

I use two different kinds of pen organizers to store all my brushes. These are better, in my opinion, than a big cup or open container, since they keep the brushes separate and easy to see and grab. Sometimes after washing my brushes, I put them back into these a little damp so they can dry without touching each other or laying flat, preserving their shape.

Finally, I use these lazy Susans to store my larger bottles and my brush holders, so I can just whirl the turntable around to access whatever I need. Putting my other storage solutions on top of these has been really helpful because it has enabled me to use the back sections of my shelves instead of needing to line everything up at the front.

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