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How to Organize Your Product Stash

Retail_Therapy's recent photos of her beauty stash got me thinking about how to store makeup. It's easy to let your collection grow out of hand, and even if you're a beauty minimalist, staying organized can be tricky. So here are a few tips for keeping your stash neat and under control.

1. Purge the crud
You know that wacky lipstick you wore only once? Or that half-used bottle of foundation just sitting neglected in your closet? Get rid of anything you haven't used in six months. Give it to a friend if you can, pitch it if you must. If the product is new, donate it to a nonprofit such as Dress For Success, which helps low-income women prepare for job interviews.

2. Divide and conquer
Clear off a table and separate all of your products into the categories you use most. For instance, my categories include nail polish, blush, lip gloss, lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara. If you have more products, you might want to narrow things down more; if you have less, you can probably get away with fewer categories (eyes, for example, instead of eye shadow/mascara/eyeliner).

For the rest of the steps,


3. Group by color
This one is optional, but I recommend doing it anyway. Group your products by color, which will help you see what's on hand. (You might want to repeat step one at this point if you find out you have, say, five identical blushes.)

4. Contain yourself.
It's easiest if you keep your everyday staples in an easy-to-reach place, while storing the less-used items separately. I use a small Rubbermaid cutlery tray, which has dividers for all of the products I use each morning. Aside from these everyday products, everything is organized into plastic bins by product type and color. You could also use shoeboxes, empty paint cans (hey, worked for Stila), or an inexpensive tackle box. The choice is really up to you.

areidz areidz 9 years
Okay, I definitely need to start a rubbermaid cabinet. I bought a bag from BE but I already have it filled to the brim and I don't have enough room for all of my brushes. I'm going to take a look at the case from MAC as well. I really don't have enough room for something bigger than I really want though. I Wish I had room for a vanity!
tglynn tglynn 9 years
I organize mine in little drawers: Skin care (foundation, lotion, concealer etc) / Eyeshadow (except for the really large palettes lol) / eyeliners / mascaras / lips / applicators (sponges, brushes) I've done it like that for years, and I clean it out every couple of months :P
cleegiants cleegiants 9 years
i have this rubbermaid storage chest - it works great for all my makeup. and i do have a lot. i think i'm pretty organized, but the sheer volume often makes me 'slightly' embarrassed when my friends come over and ask what's in them. i would like a few more compartments though, to separate my eye products, one for lipgloss and one for lipstick, one for foundations, one for blushes...okay - time to stop. maybe this can be my next project.
TFS TFS 9 years
bedmik042 bedmik042 9 years
I love the idea of seasonal make up bags! brilliant!
lennox11 lennox11 9 years
I just cleaned out my make-up train case. I took a picture and uploaded it. I'm curious to see other peoples :)
marcella marcella 9 years
I highly recommend using this inexpensive train case ($49 ) from the Container Store ( It's huge and since it's completely clear, you can see all your makeup at once. I've got two of these cases (one for makeup and one for other beauty products (e.g., nail polishes, nail implements, skin care, and other random products I have around).
the-makeup-blogette the-makeup-blogette 9 years
opps! *blush* at my make up case :p i got the case recently, and i put the stuff i use the most often on the top and middle rack. the mess (i was prolly rummaging through the stuff before the picture was taken) consists of bulky items, and stuff that i dun use so much.
em1282 em1282 9 years
I do the same stuff as a lot of y'all--the clear plastic drawers. I have a big, 3-tier drawer thing for most of my makeup, a smaller drawer for my brushes/eyelash curlers/etc., and a small box for the stuff I use everyday. The train cases look really cute but they are super expensive. For now I'll stick to my little Target-bought containers :)
SugarCat SugarCat 9 years
I did a bunch of purging over the holidays - just another excuse to buy more makeup! ;) I have to organize, though, in the worst way. I have everything divided by category now, but not by color, etc.
rlveronica rlveronica 9 years
Hey I did this a while back! I think it's time to purge some of that stuff though.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Mine is pretty good already :D But I think I need a BIGGER make-up case (mine is already what you wouldn't call small lol)...
Catipa Catipa 9 years
Thanks for the great tips, one of my goals is to be more organized this year and your ideas will help.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I'd like to think I'm pretty organized. I also make sure to throw our cosmetics (even if they are barely used) if they've reached their expiration. It's sad to see the money wasted but why risk bacteria.
desodaro desodaro 9 years
That's funny you did this tonight...I spent the evening sorting my makeup because my internet was down. I have "makeup tower" its two sets of rubber maid drawers (3 each) that I separate my stash into: 1 drawer lip glosses, 1 drawer lipsticks, 1 drawer eye shadows, 1 drawer eye liners and mascaras, 1 drawer nail polish, 1 drawer palettes that are too big too fit else where and misc.; then I also have a separate rubbermaid box of foundations, blushes, and concealers and another one for applicators and such. I AM RIDICULOUS!
Ashveena Ashveena 9 years
I swap all the things I don't use anymore on makeup alley. Love it!
mletrav mletrav 9 years
I weed out everything but the very day essentials, and don't throw them away, but rather store them in a little box for moments when I have more time/want to play. Then, I display the essentials! Everything fits on a plate on my dresser, with the exception for brushes, which go in a little cup - everything's out and easy to reach.
thoroughlymodern thoroughlymodern 9 years
I recently got this ( box at Ikea for the items I use most often, including some brushes and nail polish. It's it's divided into three rectangular compartments and it comes with six extra dividers that slide into little slots for more compartmentalizing. It's like a silverware tray, but with a lid, which is essential for me because I sort of float between living at each of my parents' houses and at school. Before that I kept everything in a makeup bag, but it was just too hard to fish around for things or tell if something was even in there. Now I can find things at a glance.
silly_pickle silly_pickle 9 years
Since I use 99.99% MAC products, I was lucky enough to receive the MAC Train Case as a gift. I love it. It's easy to find everything, holds a ton, looks great, and is perfect for travelling. Only downside is the $$$, but it does hold up very well. I clean it out every few months, but never throw anything old away since MAC has the recycling program, which gives a free lipstick for every 6 containers you bring in. Needless to say, I haven't had to actually spend money on lipstick in years. Lip gloss though, that's another story . . . I swear I don't work for MAC, I'm just addicted to their products. Sephora sells a similar case for about $90 I think, which is a lot cheaper, and looks very close.
kitkatherine kitkatherine 9 years
these are some great ideas. i use fairly new and fairly unused products to close friends or my little neighbor who is entering high school next year. certain things like blush or what not they can use for awhile if i haven't used it in a little bit. it's better to get use than not.
the rubbermaid drawers sound good.
i need to get something. my husband was just talking about all the crap on our dresser. i used to have a caboodle for years, then i got rid of it. i need a substitute. any ideas?
wren1 wren1 9 years
I just cleaned mine out recently. I use the plastic drawers from Rubbermaid. They work great and are so easy to clean.
MotoLinz MotoLinz 9 years
I weed things down a few times a year, and I give the items I no longer want to my almost-niece. She's a few months shy of 16, and she loves playing around with make-up. The smoky shadow and pink gloss that didn't work out for me are a treat for her.
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