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How to organise your makeup for a 2024 reset

Beauty collection flowing out of control? Check out our pro decluttering tips  

Assortment of makeup products
Orin Carlin
Content Writer
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Forget spring cleaning, the blank slate of a new year - and the occasion of our February digital issue - presents the ideal opportunity to streamline your beauty arsenal.

No mean feat for those of us who value the "more is more" approach, and our bulging drawers pay the price. (Guilty as charged.)

Tackling the issue head-on might feel agonising at first, but it will totally be worth it when your morning routine no longer involves wading through a sea of red lipsticks merely in order to reach the front door.

Assortment of makeup products © Unsplash
Slimming down your current beauty collection will make for an easier morning routine

"Follow your instincts, but remember, the less makeup you have, the less have to rummage through."

- Helen Sanderson, decluttering expert 

The first order of service? Introducing a horticultural metaphor into the mix. "Decluttering is like clearing an overgrown garden," psychotherapist, leading organisational expert and author of The Secret Life of Clutter Helen Sanderson explains. "To keep your make-up collection beautiful there are three stages: weeding, planting and maintaining."

Helen recommends that you begin with the weeding stage, which involves gathering all the makeup that you currently own. "One of the ways we deceive ourselves about how much stuff we have is by keeping it squirrelled away in lots of different places," she says. Categorise the products into sections (eyeliners, blushers, foundations – you get the picture), ask yourself which ones you genuinely need and/or love.

Assess the quality of each item, then enter the planting stage. "Organise things neatly in sections so they are easy to find. I recommend using transparent carousels, which means you can find things easily to grab and go," Helen explains. "Organise according to a logic that fits your lifestyle. So, if you have a set of make-up for work that you like to keep in a handbag sized case, and another one for events and parties, do that. Follow your instincts, but remember, the less makeup you have, the less have to rummage through."

Finally, the maintenance stage. "Try to replace lids and close containers, tidy things up and put them away straight after use. Most cosmetics have a short lifespan, so schedule in an annual review, when you let go of the older items. When buying new make-up, go for quality rather than quantity," Helen advises.

If you prefer the step-by-step approach, we've also enlisted the help of Master KonMari Consultant (yes, she's Marie Kondo-approved) and professional organiser Katrina Hassan to take us through how she would go about the task from start to finish.

Decluttering your makeup in 6 easy steps  

Dressing table with makeup on it © Getty
Begin by taking a look at everything you currently own

1. Assess the situation  

Take everything out of your makeup bag, bathroom cabinet and root around in the bottom of your handbags to create a pile of everything you own. "At times, especially when we own a lot, we can mindlessly purchase items we don't need because we are unable to find something due to the overwhelming volume," Katrina points out. "Not only is this a waste of money, but the more items you own, the worse the accumulation problem becomes."

2. Divide and conquer

"Separate the items into their categories so you have a pile of eyeshadows, blushers, bronzers, pencils, lipsticks, makeup brushes etc," she says. This will help you get a better understanding of the different types of products you own.

"Express your gratitude by saying 'thank you' and let them go."

- Katrina Hassan, professional organiser 

3. The refined William Morris approach

"With each category, pick out only the items that spark joy for you by holding them in your hands, one at a time, and asking yourself: 'Does this item bring me happiness?' and 'Do I actually use this item?'" Katrina advises. Taking stock of what you have and how these items make you feel should help you feel more in control and may result in your becoming a "more mindful consumer" in the future.

4. Quality control

"When you choose to keep an item, before you set it aside in a 'keep' pile, check that you're still happy with its condition. Most makeup products have a shelf-life however, unlike medicines, makeup doesn’t have an explicit expiry date," Katrina explains. Assess each product individually and cast your mind back to when it first entered your life. Has it seen better days? 

Printed on the packaging you will find a period-after-opening symbol, aka a PAO symbol. Depicting an open pot of cosmetics, the graphic indicates how long you should continue using a product after you first opened it. Combining a number and an 'M' (which stands for months), you should be able to work out whether your product is still suitable for use.

5. Say Au Revoir

"For the makeup items that you no longer wish to keep, if you feel like they've already served their purpose, express your gratitude by saying 'thank you' and let them go," Katrina says. "If you decide to discard something, and the item is still in good condition, you can donate these items to those in need. New and lightly used makeup can be donated to Women's Aid and Refuge shelters. Other organisations to look into are Dress for Success, Project Beauty Share and Beauty Banks which all accept makeup products, but please note it's best to check their donation criteria before sending your items to them."

6. Spick and span

Katrina's parting piece of advice is to wash your makeup bag so that it feels fresh and ready for a new makeup chapter. Refill it with all the items that have passed your "joy check", and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

PS: See more exclusive stories from the Hello! Fashion Self Love Issue here.

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