I’m not the most organized when it comes to maintaining my collection (read: heaping mass) of beauty products . I’m that person who thinks they’ve run out of something, buys said product, then realizes they’ve had what they thought they needed way in the back of the cabinet. This explains exactly why I have about 10 different brands of lipstick —from Maybelline to Becca—in almost the exact same berry color.
The fact that I work as an editor who follows new trends doesn’t help. I’m constantly bringing home beauty releases to test, which definitely takes up space in my cozy, New Jersey apartment (and by cozy I mean small as hell). Many times I’ve told myself that I’d take a weekend to get a real organization system in place, but after years of procrastination I decided I need professional help to get my beauty life together.
Tova Weinstock—aka Tidy Tova —is a NYC-based professional organizer who agreed to help me get control over my beauty products. After one video chat session, where she took a look at my space and products, she saw where I was going wrong and suggested a few key organizational tips to totally overhaul my storage system. Here’s what she taught me.
Tidy Tova's first tip was to identify the problem, which may seem like common sense, but who wants to admit that they’re actually a hot mess when it comes to keeping their shit together? I knew off the bat that my main issue was I had way too many products shoved into my beauty drawers. Loads of individual eyeshadows , lip liners , and serums that I should have thrown out months ago but either didn’t want to part with, or didn’t have the time to deal with.
Beauty products do expire! I had to throw out some luxury products I’d been hoarding because they were well past their expiration dates. (There should be a small jar symbol on the label; the number inside the jar tells you how many months you can keep a product once it’s opened.) It physically hurt when I checked the bottles of some of my favorites and realized it was time for the trash (ta ta, last fourth of my SK-II Facial Essence). The lesson: If you don’t use it, you lose it.
When downsizing, Weinstock suggests going section by section to simplify your beauty collection. “Sort through each category at a time and get rid of the things that you don't wear, are expired, or are extra,” she says. “Only keep what you use and need!”
I had to empty my trash can at least twice before finally getting down to beauty essentials that I actually would continue to use, or would get around to using in the near future. Any product that hadn’t been touched in quite sometime, or I was OK to part with got tossed in the bin, and I actually felt fine about it. It almost felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders . I even asked myself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Weinstock says drawers are the best system to use for storing beauty products because you can see all of your items at once. My old drawer unit was an impulse buy at my local Target when I need something cheap and fast. Weinstock suggested I purchase the Alex drawer unit from IKEA ($80) (it’s the go-to for beauty bloggers and editors ), but I opted for a slightly wider three-drawer unit called Lote ($40), that matched the airy aesthetic of my bedroom.
Originally, I had my old three-drawer unit dividing up my essentials by type of product. My makeup usually was placed in the top drawer, skin and body-care items in the next, and hair products and accessories in the last drawer. Eventually, as I began to acquire more products, the lines between these drawers became blurred and anything went anywhere. So, my edge control ended up next to my Kat Von D eyeshadow palette.
This time around Weinstock suggested I divvy up my smaller products (like eye creams and lip balms) with internal dividers. While I decided that pre-made dividers were the easiest route to take in separating my products (especially makeup ), she says that virtually anything in your house—from old candle holders to tin cans—can help keep products organized. I took Weinstock’s advice and moved any products I use on a regular basis (for me it’s items like foundations, moisturizers, and eyebrow pencils ) to the front of my drawers to make them the more accessible. When I’m rushing around to get ready in the morning , I definitely don’t have time to rifle through my makeup drawer searching for concealer .
“Don't just take things because they're free !” Weinstock says, and I agree. Adding endless freebies (even if they’re really good freebies) to my beauty organizer was part of the reason I ended up with clutter in the first place. It’s a perk of the job, but I need to be more selective about what I take home from work (besides, how many eyeshadow palettes do you really need anyway?). I also need to stop buying dupes of things I already own—which will be a lot easier now that I can actually find the dang things in my newly organized makeup corner.