Decluttering my cosmetics collection

Makeup

I admit that I’m a beauty product junkie. If it promises to plump, lashify, de-wrinkle, and de-puff in all the right places, I’m on it.

Thanks to this vulnerability to shiny tubes and bottles, I’ve accumulated a mega collection of makeup, products, and product samples over the years–from worthless snake oils to stuff that really does work like a charm. You probably wouldn’t suspect this if you just met me, though, because I go rather au natural in the makeup department. I don’t like to spend more than 30 seconds in the morning swiping on mascara as I run out the door.

Somehow this puts no damper, however, on my desire to own twenty shades of eyeshadow, half a dozen tubes of foundation and concealer, and an arsenal of lip color.

This summer I had a change of heart. After spending nearly 8 straight weekends out of town visiting family nearby, I got so sick of packing every weekend, that I ended up living off a rotation of clothes and a toiletries bag that I kept ready to go at all times. The toiletries were really basic. Shampoo, conditioner, mini bottles of one to two hair products, toothpaste, moisturizer, and makeup: powder foundation, bronzer, a little eye makeup, an eyelash curler, chapstick, and maybe a wildcard lip color.

Once I got used to traveling around with the bare minimum all the time, I discovered how refreshing it was not to have to mess with so many different products and options.

It turns out I’m actually more into the idea of products than actually using products. And that’s been taking up a lot of space in my life.

At the end of the summer, I decided to go through my makeup and products and commit to a massive overhaul. The result is a much more pared-down collection that makes a lot more sense for my personality and lifestyle.

What went:

  • The old, crusty stuff. I don’t really follow those “replace your foundation every 6 months” rules, because c’mon, if I throw down 32 bucks on a product, I’m going to get every last drop out of it. But I had some stuff that was embarrassingly geriatric in makeup years–I’m talkin’ pots of goo going on 5+ years old. Gross. (This included a massive jar of Lancome body cream I got for free for being a product tester for Allure magazine….in 2004.)
  • Nice products that just don’t work on me. I had an extensive collection of department store makeup counter lipsticks, lip glosses and lip stains in colors that I either no longer liked or weren’t that great on me to begin with. Some my mom had bought me, and others I’d shelled out for, but the point was: they were expensive. I think looking at that nice stuff every time I opened my makeup drawer was kind of comforting to me–like, “Ooh, fancy lipstick, I guess I’m a fancy lady.” But I finally got to the point that I just didn’t want it cluttering up my life any more.
  • Cheap products that suck. You don’t have to pay tons of money to get quality makeup products, but sometimes the cheap drug store stuff just doesn’t work well, no matter how many layers of crumbly eyeshadow you try to brush on. I finally kicked some of the cheap stuff out that was causing more hassle than help.
  • Empty tubes and bottles. Yep, I’d held onto some empty bottles just because I wanted to remember the product names. Now I have a page in a notebook with all the info I need for the next time I shop.

What I kept:

  • The everyday basics I actually wear. This now fills up just a small makeup bag.
  • Mini samples of my favorite products. I love my sample-sized products and use them for travel and backup if I run out of the real deal. I corralled all my minis together and stored them in one place so they don’t clutter up my main makeup stash, but I have them just in case.
  • Some extras in case I need to get legitimately done-up. I held on to one or two extra lipsticks and some liquid eyeliner in case I have a wedding or holiday party to attend.
  • One or two funky items just for kicks. I might need that saturated palette of bright blue eye shadows for a Halloween costume, right? I kept it. I also held onto my set of individual false eyelashes, even though I wanted to rip out my own lashes the last time I tried to apply the falsies. Maybe I can get a friend to help me out.

My makeup collection has gone from giant and grungy to easy, breezy and I couldn’t be happier.

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