Get ready for the ultimate skincare and cosmetics decluttering workout! Sometimes these personal care items are the last ones we think of when we’re on an organizing spree, but in many ways they are the most important. Creams, serums, eyeshadows, foundations, brushes – all of these touch our skin, and all of them have a specific shelf life. So put on your yoga pants, and get an exercise playlist ready! Here is our ultimate guide to cleaning up your shelfie:
STEP 1: Take out everything!
From makeup to skincare, as well as your toothbrush, hairbrush, manicure kit – take out everything (and we mean absolutely all of it, including the thirty-or-so cosmetics bags you have stashed in your linen closet). Find a place to spread out your goods – it might be overwhelming at first, but we’ll help you get through it.
Keep items in the various categories they belong to: makeup, skincare, personal care, hair care.
STEP 2: Sort each category into these piles: toss, recycle, save/clean, repurpose.
Unfortunately (and it can be painful) it’s time to get rid of items that are too old, damaged, don’t suit you – or irritate your skin.
For cosmetics, here’s a quick cheat sheet on how long your products can last after they have been opened:
Mascara: 3 months
Eyeliner (liquid): about 3-6 months
Eyeliner (pencil): about one year
Lipstick: about a year
Foundation: about a year for liquid, 2 years for powder
Powder Eyeshadow:about a year
For skincare, each item should have a tiny number on it corresponding to the number of months your product is good. The PAO, or “period-after-opening” symbol (it’s that little icon that looks like an open cosmetics pot) has a corresponding number of months or years that indicates the useful lifetime of the product after opening. All products should have this icon on either the box or the primary packaging.
If anything smells off, or has a texture that has changed – it’s time to say goodbye. With either makeup or skincare, it’s important to always use clean hands when dipping into your product, helping extend the life of the item. Another interesting note: all skincare products need preservatives (the good and safe kind) to stop the growth of bacteria, mold, yeast and fungus in products that are formulated with water and are left in humid environments like your bathroom.
On recycling: some brands take their empties back, which is a great way to ensure the packaging is taken care of responsibly. Empty perfume jars can make pretty flower vases, and a cream that didn’t work for your face can double as a hand moisturizer.
STEP 3: Take a peek at all the products you’ve saved and get ready to do some deep cleaning!
Lipstick: Extend the lipstick, then use a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to clean around the lipstick tube. Then, use the middle of the Q-tip to basically cut off a thin layer on the top of the lipstick. Dip your lipsticks in alcohol for about 30 seconds, then let them air dry.
Eyeshadows, powder (or any pressed compact makeup): Take a fresh Q-tip dipped in Soft Sweep and wipe along the rim, cleaning up any excess powder or spills.
Makeup brushes: Take a small, shallow dish and pour a little Soft Sweep into it. Swirl your makeup brushes around one at a time, and then rinse in water and allow to air dry. Alternatively, you could use a mild soap.
Foundation, creams and jars: I just take a paper towel with a little alcohol and wipe around the dispenser or around the rims of the jars to clean up. You can also use a cotton ball and saturate with Soft Sweep to wipe around the dispenser and rims of the bottle or jar.
It’s also a great time to change your toothbrush, clean out your hairbrush, and do any of these little yet important things you might be too busy to do in a regular day.
LAST STEP: Organize.
This is a major joy sparker! Those cosmetic bags will now come in handy (if you have too many, you can always donate them, along with any sample size products that are unused and unopened to your local homeless shelter). Use your favorites to categorize the items that you have for proper storage (perhaps eyeshadows in one bag, lipsticks in another). If you have any organizational tools (like bins or brush holders) wipe them down and start arranging the appropriate items within.
When you’re reorganizing your bathroom shelf, it’s good to visualize how you’re going to place your things. For me, the only products that go on my bathroom shelf are the ones I use the most. On the left side, I keep Care’s Deep Moisture Fix, Eye + Lip Nourishing Cream, Soft Sweep Cleanser + Toner, plus a La Mer The Lip Balm. On the right, Tireless Retinoid Night Serum, and The Everything Multi-level Moisturizer.
You could also organize by brand or category – whatever is easiest and most sensible for you.
I hope you’re all set up to thoroughly declutter your beauty routine, and we’d love to hear all about it (send us an email through our blog)!
Once an Estée Lauder Marketing Executive, Michelle is now a Care Skincare Staff Writer and a big fan of their simple approach to skincare. She lives with her husband and two small children, who keep her busy 23/7.