Our Best Tips on How to Organize Your Makeup and Declutter

Organize Your Makeup

Whether you have a small or a big makeup collection, it’s always nice to look in your makeup drawer and find it neat and organized. Having your makeup storage organized makes life that much easier, not to mention, being able to find things without trouble. Like, not having to dig everywhere to find your favorite hypoallergenic mascara is a big plus. 

If you’re like me, the best part of organizing is getting the cute organizational tools & organizers – amiright?? PLEASE, resist the urge to go buy out container store just yet because you don’t know exactly what you’ll need and your needs will most certainly change as you move through decluterring. For now, save any little tiny boxes, random organizers you find, and food storage containers. Those can fill in the gaps to get you organized right now, then you can use the links at the bottom of this post to buy exactly what you need for what you actually have!

Having an organized space will help you enjoy your beauty routine, save you time searching, and allow for creativity. Organizing has also been linked to mental health and it’s a great way to self-care. I personally find it very satisfying and feel accomplished when I organize things around the house. I LOVE ORGANIZING. But it can feel daunting to start – that’s where this post will help, keep reading!

Organizing your beauty products and makeup drawer will help you keep track of when your products go bad and expire, making it easy to know when to replace them.

Make sure to check out When Does Makeup Expire article to know when your makeup products expire and to know what to look for in expired products. Of course, though, we all know that it can be hard to keep that makeup drawer organized and even harder to get started especially when you do not know where to begin. But I promise, you can do most of your organizing in under 3 hours with a little focus.

**Pro Tip: If you prefer to take your organizing in smaller chunks (like everyday after work, or during nap time, or with a glass of wine or tea in the evening) – follow this same process but do it for each category or space. For instance, in the decluttering phase – just gather all your eyeshadows on day 1 and follow the same process lined out below. Then once you’ve gone through each category of makeup and/or personal care items – and there’s nothing left to declutter, you can quickly see what you have to re-arrange, purchase storage for and place all together in one location.**

In this article, we are sharing our best inspiration to get you started on how to organize your makeup collection. You can decide when is the best time of the year for you personally to do some serious organizing and decluttering. Some people like to do so at the beginning of the year, for spring cleaning. Others like to do so later in the year, right before those major sales begin (aka those Holiday sales), so that they can do some shopping to replace any needed products.

Keep in mind that certain products, like mascara and liquid eyeliners, expire a lot sooner than others so make sure you are decluttering and replacing those every 3-6 months, mark it on your calendar now to not have to remember later. 

Alright, now that we’ve covered the WHY – let’s dig into the HOW. So, put in those headphones, turn on your book/podcast/playlist and LET’S GOOOO.

How to Organize Makeup: Step 1- Declutter 

“How do I get started?”, is probably the first question you ask when it comes to organizing your makeup. The first step, or the first thing you want to do, is declutter. This can be quite hard, we know, but it’s important. So, here’s our favorite way to go about it.

Lay out all your makeup.

You want to gather all your beauty products, every makeup item you own (even the ones in your purse, but don’t get distracted by your purse…just grab the makeup). Lay out a big towel, and spread all your makeup out so you can see everything. This should take you 10 minutes tops, if you’re ADD like me, set a timer so you don’t get distracted.

Quickly Arrange Them By Category 

You can do this without much thinking and it will take it from a jumbled mess to an already organized looking situation, making the rest of these steps much easier. Foundations/Powders in one section of the towel, eyeshadows and palettes in another section, lipsticks in another, etc. This should take less than 5 minutes.

Check Expiration Dates and/or PAOs

Now that you have everything all out and in one place, start checking the expiration dates on them. Not every product will have an expiration date, but some will. The majority, though, will at least have a PAO (period after opened) symbol, that little open jar with a number of months in it. This represents the number of months you have after opening a product before it expires, or is safe to use.

If any of the makeup products have expired dates or you know have been opened for longer than the PAO suggested dates, just go ahead and throw those out. Say a little thank you for each product’s purpose in your life – even if that was to show you that you’re not a fan of that brand. (Letting Things Go With Gratitude was my favorite part of Marie Kondo’s book…anyone else?)

You can also refer back to the general timeline of when makeup products expire that is found in the When Does Makeup Expire article. 

Common makeup expiration dates are usually in 6 month or 3 month increments. Products generally expire at 6 months, 12, months, 18 months, 24 months.. like that. So if you don’t have the original box, just try to remember back to what was going on in your life when you bought that product. If Lilly was just starting 3rd grade around that time, you can guess pretty well how old the makeup is. If you can’t remember, or you’ve had it since high school (guilty!) then just toss it.

This should take 15 minutes tops. Get your game face on and don’t slip into feeling guilty. It’s all ok sister, sometimes we buy makeup and only wear it once. P.S. It’s also why we have a 6 month refund/exchange policy so that you don’t keep any makeup you aren’t going to actually wear. This should take 10 minutes.

Give Your Makeup Stash The Look & Sniff Test

Next, you want to check all the products you are left with after going through them and checking expiration dates. Sometimes products can go bad even before the expiration date or the PAO date, so you always want to check for any signs of them being expired as you would not want to continue to use old/expired makeup products.

(For more on why it is very important not to use expired makeup, make sure to read the What Happens To Expired Makeup Post if you need convincing)

Check to see if there are any changes in texture or consistency, or if you notice any separation happening. You can check your products by doing swatches. Is there any lack of pigmentation to them, or a difference in their application? Smell your makeup items. Do they smell bad? These are the things you want to be checking and looking for. Common signs of expiration include: 

  • difference in smell (if it smells off)
  • changes in texture and consistency 
  • lack of pigmentation
  • difference in application
  • notice any separation happening

If you notice any of the above in your makeup products, they most likely have gone bad, toss em. Depending on the size of your collection this should take 10-20 minutes.

**Pro Tip: If you’re going to replace any items you threw out, jot down the brand, product name, and shade name before throwing it out. Open a note on your phone, or an actual piece of paper – don’t just take photos…make it easy on yourself. Then when sales happen, or a coupon appears, or you have Points & Rewards to use you’ll know exactly what you need to replace.**

Get Rid Of Old Makeup You Won’t Wear 

Now it’s time to go through each category again. This time ask yourself what products you actually need and know you will use. In each category you may have a favorite, and then a few others. Gather the ones you NEVER wear, not the special occasion items – but items that you know you don’t like. Let them go with gratitude, don’t clutter your life with things you don’t like. This is the hardest part, so it’ll probably take you 10-20 minutes depending on the amount of items you have. If you don’t have much left at this point, then congrats it’ll only take you 2 minutes and you’re done!

Here’s some ideas for what to do with any of those items that you never used:

  • Offer them to friends and family
  • Sell them on eBay or Poshmark
  • Donate them to a women’s shelter in your area – you could make another woman smile

How to Organize Makeup: Step 2- Clean 

Everything is still on the towel in tidy little groups…now clean them all. Clean anything that looks messy and dirty, things tend to collect dust over time. Your makeup collection will feel new and fresh with a good wipe-down. EyeShadow Palettes and blush containers not only get super dusty but they also can get messy on the inside, so make sure to check any palettes you may have and give them a good cleaning. 

Go grab a drink and a mini vacuum and a wet paper towel or rag. Now you’re going to wipe down the makeup drawer, any makeup drawer organizers you have, drawer storage, makeup vanity area/space, and all DIY organizers where you keep your makeup. Basically, wherever you’re about to put all this makeup – clean it.

You can sanitize most makeup products if you think they need it. Pressed powder products such as eye shadow palettes and lipsticks are some items that can be sanitized easily. It isn’t necessary to do this often unless you share your makeup with others (which we don’t recommend).

How do you sanitize beauty products? Well, aren’t you happy to have a beauty blogger as a friend?

Powder products can be sanitized by gently scraping off with a clean butter knife, or by wiping off with tissue paper, the top layer of the product. Then lightly spray with isopropyl alcohol (70%), this will help kill bacteria without altering your makeup. You can simply let the alcohol evaporate and you’re done.

You can also cut off a thin layer from the tips of your lipsticks and/or just spray the exposed part of lipsticks with alcohol and then wipe them clean with either tissue paper or a paper towel.

You for sure want to clean your makeup brushes right now, they can be drying while you move onto organizing. You should be cleaning makeup brushes and sponges about once a week if you wear makeup daily or twice a month if you only wear makeup on the weekends. This will help keep bacteria from spreading. If you want to learn how to clean makeup brushes click here.

And of course, it’s a great idea to sanitize your makeup storage containers, and any makeup drawer organizer you may own.

Cleaning should take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

How to Organize Makeup: Step 3- Time to Organize!  

You are now ready to start organizing your products. Find the best way to organize your makeup, makeup storage and makeup drawer/s that works for you. It is a bit easier when you have a smaller collection as it wouldn’t need much space to get the job done.

We could tell you exactly how we do it, but that doesn’t set you up for success. Everyone has a different idea about where they like to store their makeup and HOW they want to see their items displayed. We’re coming at this from a “teaching you to fish” perspective instead of giving you the fish.

Here are my favorite tips:

  • Look at everything and go grab containers around your house to use as staging. Use Tupperwares, jewelry boxes, gift boxes, shipping boxes with lids cut off, etc…then you’ll know the exact storage solutions to buy. You likely have TONS of things to use as “staging” organizers while you complete this process – gather them all up.
  • Store your lipsticks upside down to see the names of each
  • Store your brushes in cute cups/containers to display and see them all
  • Store your “daily-wearers” all in one place and separate from your seasonal, just for fun, or sometimes shades – this is KEY to the 5 minute makeup look!
  • Remember to leave space for products that you’ll be replacing but have already thrown out/recycled
  • Organize your containers by product categories. Which should be easy because they’re already in those categories on your towel.

For example, store your base products together, such as foundations and concealers. Then store all your blushes and bronzers together, and all your eye products together, lip products, self-care items, etc. 

If you keep a separate makeup bag for on the go items – now’s the time to put all your bag items in there, and go put that bag back in your purse, backpack, or work satchel.

Vanity tables that have storage drawers where makeup can be organized are excellent if you have the space for it. If your collection is much bigger, you’ll want to use drawer units to organize each category.

Below you will find our favorite organizers and vanities – so you don’t have to do your own searching.

Once you get everything put away in what you have now – step back and look at it from the perspective of getting ready in the morning or before a night out. Remember, you will purchase your storage solutions later – for now just get it organized, usable, and clean. Here are some questions to ask before you call it done (not perfect):

  • Is everything I use regularly easily accessible or even visible/displayed?
  • Can I easily find my fun lipsticks, glosses to switch out my look or match my outfit?
  • Is it obvious which products are going to expire next – so that I make sure to use those first?
  • Do I feel overwhelmed by the quantity of products still left, or is it just right?
  • Do I feel good when I look at this?

If everything is just right – then congratulate yourself, you’re done! Doesn’t that feel good? Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, just lovely, useful, and clean.

Now, you’re armed with your list of things to replace along with a visual cue of what kind of storage solutions/organizers you actually need. No wasting time or money. Keep scrolling for our favorites.

We hope this process breaks the decluttering and organizing tasks into manageable bits so you’ll get into the habit of doing this every 6 months or so. Mark it on your calendar now, then you’ll be using products more effectively, not over-buying because you can’t find something and using what you have.

And of course, here’s a shameless plug for replacing your expired products with our cruelty free, vegan, gluten free makeup that’s non-toxic, sustainable and feels luxurious – your lips, eyes, and cheeks will be glad you use Red Apple Lipstick!

What are some ways that help you organize and maintain your makeup collection? Do you find going through your collection and decluttering a challenge? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments below!

Makeup Storage Ideas

Full disclosure, we earn a small commission from any purchase made from the links below even though it doesn’t cost you any extra to shop from these links. These just happen to be our favorites and we want to help shortcut the process for you of finding makeup organizers and storage solutions that work great!

Makeup Vanities

These makeup vanities have great reviews, and great storage!

Sometimes, a minimalist approach is best. These makeup vanities have a small footprint

Countertop/Cabinet Makeup Storage

I like my countertop makeup storage to be beautiful! These selections would look great almost anywhere.

Highly Functional

Sometimes function takes a priority over looks.

Makeup Drawer Organizers

Makeup Drawer Organizers are great because they help you keep your makeup neat, tidy and together in one place rather than spread out throughout your entire drawer or vanity case. And the best part is that they can be made at home. Makeup Drawer Organizers are also great because they can be customized to fit the dimensions of your specific Makeup Drawers or Makeup Stands.

Companies like IKEA have a variety of Makeup Drawer organizers that you can choose from, but it is better to make one yourself. Makeup drawer organizers can be made out of a variety of materials, including wood or even cardboard that you might have lying around the house.

But here are some easy and simply solutions we found that we like.

Makeup Brushes Organizers

Makeup brushes can get messy and disorganized very quickly. Makeup Brush Organizers are a great solution to help you quickly clean or store makeup brushes.

Makeup brush holders have been designed with different shapes and sizes depending on what the user is trying to accomplish. Makeup Brush Organizers can be used as Makeup Brush Holders for specialized specific tools, Makeup Brush Stands, Makeup Brush Traveling Cases, Makeup Brush organizers for counter tops – the choices are endless

Frequently Asked Questions: 

When should you declutter makeup? 

You want to declutter makeup when it expires. It is a good idea to go through all your makeup products at least once a year and check to see if anything has expired. Some products, however, will expire a lot faster so you will need to declutter every couple of months when it comes to those. To have a better idea of when makeup expires, please check out the When Does Makeup Expire article and refer to the general timeline that is found there. 

How do I organize my makeup in a small space? 

Makeup organizers are your best friend! These are perfect to help you organize when you do not have much space. There are many options to choose from, from trays to small drawers, you will find exactly what you need. Shop around and choose something that will work best for your space. 

Where should you keep your makeup? 

To help your makeup last, you should keep your makeup products in a cool and dry place. Avoid storing in the bathroom, if possible, where the temperature is always changing and there can be more moisture as well. 

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2 Comments

  1. Andrea Harper Andrea Harper says:

    I’m so glad this was inspiring to you Mary! Great idea about not storing makeup in the bathroom – keep those germs from growing! I keep mine in my closet. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Avatar Mary Babineau says:

    This was very helpful. Thank You.
    I’m inspired to make my own make-up drawer with a lid, because I don’t want to store my supplies in the bathroom anymore! so will keep it in the room next door and simply take it in in the morning, easy peasy. I’ve been keeping my make-up brushes in a favourite mug and it has been working well plus reminds me to regularly wash them. You gave a lot of tips to help me organize, and think about, too 🙂
    I am not good at organizing so really appreciate your writing this for us.

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