Here’s How To (Finally) Declutter Your Beauty Supplies, According to Organizing Pros

How many serums do you really need?

<p>Carol Yepes/Getty Images</p>

Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Most of us simply have way too many beauty products and tools. As pretty as the bottle is—or as enticing as the gadget’s claims were at the time of purchase—for most of us, a great deal of our products end up mostly unused. Maybe a purchase was an instant “nope” but we can’t bring ourselves to toss it, or perhaps we loved something at first but ended up gravitating toward something else in the end. Over time, our collection slowly eats up counter space or ends up collecting dust in dark, hard-to-reach corners under our sinks.

If this all sounds too familiar, consider this your sign to finally declutter your beauty supplies so you can reclaim your space and sanity. We spoke to organizing pros about what items you should toss immediately, how to know what to keep, and tips on keeping your beauty cabinet looking sparkling.

Related: Here's What You Should Never Declutter, According to the Pros

How to Declutter Your Beauty Supplies

Step 1: Pull Everything Out

When it comes to organizing, things almost always “get worse” before they get better. That’s definitely the case for decluttering your beauty supplies—especially if you’ve got a lot to go through. Stay the course, though!

The first step is to take everything out from hiding and lay it in front of you. This includes everything in bins, boxes, drawers, cabinets, and anywhere else you stash goods. Seeing everything in front of you gives you a chance to assess what you own, come to terms with the (probably bigger-than-you-thought) pile, and figure out what to toss and keep.

Step 2: Discard Unused and Expired Products

With everything laid out in front of you, go through items one-by-one and figure out what to toss and what to donate. Here are some things you can toss:

Expired Items

Just say no to expired skincare. “Outdated products can irritate your skin and cause breakouts,” notes professional organizer Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founder of the NEAT Method. “Look for the jar-shaped symbol on the container to determine how long the product lasts from the time of its first use.” Some products also have dates.

Katy Joy Wells, professional organizer, says that if items don’t have dates on the packaging, you can use a permanent marker to write down the date when you first open the product. “This way, you can easily check when you need to replace it based on the recommended time frame,” she says.

Related: A Complete Guide to Makeup Expiration Dates—and How Often to Replace Every Toiletry You Own

Unused Items

Hagmeyer also recommends discarding anything that you haven’t reached for in the last three months. This is a sign the product or gadget isn’t an important part of your routine. “Give yourself permission to say goodbye to items that just never worked for you—even if they were purchased recently,” says Ashley Murphy, the second co-founder of NEAT Method. “Giving them to a friend can sometimes soften the blow.”

Alternatively, if it’s a functioning gadget or a product that’s unused, sealed, and not expired, donate it to a shelter. For all other items, in the bin they go.

“Be careful not to fall into the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ trap, which can lead you to hang onto products you don’t use because you might feel that decluttering them would be a waste of money,” Wells says. “This results in an overly cluttered collection.”

Step 3: Organize By Category

Anything that makes the cut can now be organized by category. This step allows for some personalization, but a good rule of thumb is to keep like-items together. For example, keep all your lotions in one spot, all your “everyday cosmetics” together, and eyeshadow palettes in another. Wells also recommends a secondary container to store “special occasion” makeup items that you use, but don't use frequently enough to go into your everyday kit.

“If you happen to keep backstock of any items, you can store them all together in a lower cabinet out of the way," Murphy says. "Be sure to store tall bottles, like hair products, upright—under the sink is a great place." Gadgets can either be put on display or kept together in a bin or box and then tucked into an accessible place.

Step 4: Place Into Organizers

With items separated by category, you can now determine how you want to store them.

“We love an assortment of drawer organizers for providing boundaries to individual categories and to prevent shifting,” Hagmeyer says. “Turntables are a great solution for coraling everyday skincare or perfume bottles on a bathroom counter, or for utilizing the small space in front of under-sink pipes.” Bags, boxes, bins, and acrylic organizers are all great options, too.

Ultimately, the goal is to heighten functionality so your space is welcoming and products are easy to find and use. That means figuring out what beauty organizing system works best for you. For products to consider, check out our list of the best makeup organizers.

Step 5: Keep It Organized

Here are a few tricks to keep things ship-shape once you’ve formally decluttered your beauty supplies.

  • Micro Clutter Audits: “These are micro-declutter sessions that take only seconds to a few minutes,” says Wells. “You can do them in conjunction with a habit you already have. For example, while brushing your teeth, take a few seconds and open your drawer and locate any expired or unwanted items. Or maybe each Sunday when you put on your clay face mask for ten minutes, use that time to audit beauty items.”

  • Label Organizers: It’s easier to keep organized when every item has a designated home. Labeling your bins and containers streamlines this process so you don’t have to think too much when putting an item back.

Finish Products Before Buying New: Wells also strongly recommends abiding by a “finish before you replenish” rule. This means using what you’ve got to the last drop and saying no to shiny new products if you’ve got something similar at home. (This is a great way to save money, too!)

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