How to Declutter Makeup in 5 Easy Steps

September 15, 2017




Because... I used to be a makeup hoarder.
I know I'm not the only one with this testimony. It's so easy to spend money on beauty products because the beauty industry is always coming up with new and improved formula's, techniques and rituals to improve your skin, hair and nails.

Don't get me wrong, I love to purchase (and receive) beauty products as much as the next girl, but my "collection" got overwhelming at times (I'm side-eyeing you, lipstick).

I began my journey to minimalism a few years ago, and creating the perfect minimalist makeup collection has probably been the hardest thing. There are so many great products out there, but if I'm being honest, I mostly use the same few on a regular basis.

As I said before, it's a journey. There is no set time frame or number to make the perfect makeup collection, and it will take time to find what you're comfortable with.

Here are a few of my favorite steps to declutter my makeup collection.

1. Control the clutter.

Did you know makeup has an expiration date?

Most products will expire within 2 years or less. Some products have a symbol of an open can with the amount of time the product can be safely used after opening.

The easiest way I keep track of my makeup's expiration date is with stickers and a permanent marker. I simply jot down the month and year on the bottom of the product, but if your want to get super detailed, who am I to stop you.

Another important reason is it helps to control the clutter.

Depending on how you store your makeup, it gives you a chance to rediscover products you forgot about.

It also helps you take inventory to prevent buying too many similar items in similar colors. Hence, you control your clutter.

2. Save space and eliminate.

How many times have you bought or received a beauty product that was not meant for you?

You know the ones I'm talking about. They either aren't your shade, oxidize horribly, the color's aren't doing you any favors, or end up too chalky.

Let's be honest for a moment.

There are return policies for a reason. So, there's no reason to feel obligated to keep things you won't use.

Immediately donate or return items you don't like. The longer you keep things you don't want the more likely you are to stash it somewhere and forget about it.

Many websites offer free return shipping, and most stores have generous return policies. Use them.

And if you can't return it, give it to a friend or family member. You can also check women's shelters or programs in your area, because some will accept donations for new or barely used makeup.

3. Limit your purchases.

It IS possible to have to many of something.

Most mascara's claim to lengthen, add volume and resist water. So, 3 is the magic number here. If you're lucky, you may be able to find one product that covers all three points. 

I'm also side-eyeing you, eye shadow, foundation and lipstick.

You don't need a palette from every company, or a bottle from every brand, or a tube in every shade.

My suggestion is to invest in one good palette for everyday use THAT WORKS FOR YOU.

For instance, if you prefer neutral colors, there's no point in getting a palette with tropical colors. You'll use it twice, then it will collect dust. That's literally throwing money away, because... Step two. (If you need a good neutral eye shadow palette suggestion, here's my favorite)

Find one good medium to full coverage foundation and one good sheer coverage option for the days when your skin is acting right.

Then, find an amazing nude lipstick for your skin tone, one seasonal color and one sheer.

4. Duplicates are the Devil.

This is where I minister to myself, and hopefully you too.

If you find yourself purchasing the same or to-close-to-call shades, it means you really enjoy that color. Which is great because you'll be more likely to wear it.

It also means you don't know what you have in your inventory, and it needs to go back to the store. (Revisit steps 1 and 2 for a refresher.)

5. Maintain your collection.

One on, one out. That's the mantra for maintenance.

This rule is extremely helpful with keeping your simplified collection under control.

When you finish a product, reevaluate it before you replace it. What were the pros and cons? Is there another product that may work better?

That doesn't mean you have to wait until it's completely gone, but you also don't need to stockpile either.


If you find yourself panicking at the thought of letting go of your makeup, BREATHE. It's not a life or death situation.

Makeup should be fun, and remind yourself that you can always get more. Here are some realistic questions to guide you through the purge.
  • How does it react with your skin? If the formula is not friendly to your skin, you won't (and probably shouldn't) use it again. TOSS IT
  • Does the color match? If not, you probably won't reach for it as often, so you won't miss it. If so, what stopped you from using it? (See bullet #1)
  • I love the color, but it's not something I'd wear daily. We all have that bold makeup choice that only looks good with certain outfits or works well with special events and occasions. Leave it out for 2 weeks. If you don't use it, toss it.
  • I don't use it often, but I LOVE it. The day will come when you will eventually have to purge it, but if you truly love it, keep it... unless it's expired, of course.
After following all of these steps, here's my makeup collection. Everything fits perfectly in a clear organizer I found at the dollar store. It even holds my favorite makeup palette!


Have you already purged? Share your best tips! If you haven't, what's holding you back?

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