How to Organize Makeup

Nancy Peham
Written by Nancy Peham
Updated June 15, 2021
makeup on counter
Organize your makeup twice a year, discarding old and unused items. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Organize your makeup to simplify your morning routine.

If you're like many women, you probably have more makeup and beauty products than you can use taking up valuable space in your bathroom drawers and cupboards. Digging through an overflowing drawer for the right foundation adds stress and time to your process of getting ready for the day. For a more peaceful morning, brush up on these makeup organization tips.

Discard old makeup

Get rid of the products that have exceeded their shelf life or you simply don't use anymore.

As lotions and creams age, they dry out, separate or lose potency. Experts suggest that water-based liquid foundation be discarded about every 12 months, while oil-based products may last 18 months to two years.

Plan to replace blush and powder foundation after about two years.

Botanicals, or products made from plant sources, tend to degrade faster than synthetic ingredients, so their shelf lives may be shorter. 

Mascara only has a shelf life of about three months. Eye pencils and shadows can be kept anywhere from two to three years. If you've had an eye infection, throw out any eye makeup you used during that time.

Lipsticks and lip liners are good for two years or longer unless they're dried out or smell rancid.

Nail polish usually lasts a year or longer. If you apply makeup using sponges, wash them daily and discard weekly.

When in doubt about a product's shelf life, contact the manufacturer's consumer hotline for the most accurate information.

Organization Advice

Want to know how to organize other items and areas of the home? Check out our related content.

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Store your makeup

Once you've discarded the old and unusable makeup, you can concentrate on how to store the rest.

To get the most from your makeup and beauty products, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and humidity. Keep your products tightly closed to avoid drying, contamination and loss of potency.

You may still have several extra lotions, creams and items you want to keep but don't use every day. They can be stored high in a cupboard or wherever you have space and can retrieve them easily when needed.

If you travel regularly or have frequent houseguests, consider keeping a special container with a variety of sample-sized products to use for those occasions.

Think about the items you use daily and keep them in a convenient location where you have space, whether that be in a drawer, cupboard or on the counter.

When organizing a makeup drawer, I like to buy several small trays in various sizes and shapes to keep beauty items distinct and easy to find. Rectangular and square trays are very versatile and can be arranged in drawers to fit your exact needs. I tend to stay away from large trays with predefined spaces, because sometimes I have trouble fitting things into the compartments.

Trays come in several different materials, such as plastic, wood and metal. Find one that fits your style.

In your makeup area, consider grouping the following items into compartments: lip liner, lipstick and lip gloss; eyeliner and mascara; foundation and concealer; makeup brushes and sponge applicators; eye shadow and blush. If you're a person who never has more than one or two of each type of product in use at one time, you may only need one contained space for everything.

Whether you're a cosmetics fanatic or a minimalist, completing this relatively small task a couple of times a year can make a world of difference in your daily routine. Knowing that everything at your fingertips is fresh, organized and useful will add a little touch of satisfaction to your day.

Do you have any makeup organization tips and tricks? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

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