Your Weekly Organasm: What to Do With All Your Makeup (Besides Wear It)

Because who wouldn’t fall for a magic potion that’s going to make your problems go away?
Publish date:
October 22, 2012
makeup, beauty, organization, your weekly organism

Like Daisy, I’m too lazy to wear makeup most of the time. But that has never stopped me from buying lots of stuff designed to make me look prettier. It’s a trap I fall into every single time because makeup is so tempting. Who wouldn’t fall for a magic potion that’s going to make your problems go away? Plus, it looks so pretty in its packaging.

When it comes to makeup, all those colors need to pop, so I think it looks best stored in a clear container. For my tubes and bottles, I have this double acrylic spice rack. I can put the shorter bottles on the bottom row, and taller bottles on top. I think that if I had four times as much makeup as I do, I might buy more of these and file them sideways on my tabletop. Even better, there are holes drilled into the back so I can hang some on the wall if I wanted to.

Here’s an idea for makeup palettes. Check out this acrylic letter rack. I can put smaller items in the front rows, larger items in the back, and the pen slots are just about perfect for holding a few makeup brushes.

My rows of eye shadow are included in this shot, so I might as well explain what’s happening here. I’m using a combination of Stainless Steel Skinny Strips, heavy-duty mounting tape and mighty magnets glued to the bottom of my little pots. I’m doing it to get them off my tabletop and because magnets are fun to play with. And just so you know, the skinny-strip/magnet combo is also great if you want to store things like scissors, tweezers and nail clippers.

If you have a lot more eye shadows than I do, then I suggest using this 4-Step Drawer. It takes up only about as much room as a magazine file, and it looks like it would hold about 40 pots.

Now for inexpensive storage solutions. There is one thing that everybody keeps and never uses, and that’s flower vases. If you don’t have a stash from every wedding you’ve ever been to, then your mom, roommate or officemate probably has some that they can’t bear to throw away. If you find a short, stubby one with a wide opening, then you’re in luck. Think of it as candy bowl for makeup, and throw in your collection of eye shadow or nail polish. When you need a specific color, dig in with your fingers, like Scrooge McDuck diving into a limitless sea of gold coins.

Whenever I buy new makeup, I like to check out the packaging for storage ideas. There is, I think, no better way to keep my collection of Fresh sugar lip treatments, so I’ll keep it in the original packaging, minus the cover. It’s like a removable tray inside my little desk drawer. As for my set of Dr. Jart’s Beauty Balms, I’ve cut out the paper slots in the packaging to use it as customized makeup storage.

And wait, don’t throw away your old makeup containers! As soon as I’m finished with my Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, this tub is going to find new life as a cotton round holder. And tall bottle caps, turned upside-down, will do quite nicely to hold Q-tips, a mini brush or small tubes of concealer. To hold my cosmetic sponges, I’m using a box once used for a candle. I’m also going to cut the triangles in half so that I have more surface area and corners to work with.

Just in case you haven’t noticed from the photos, I really, really like the travel sets that are coming out for the holidays. I can never use up full-size containers, so whenever I can, I’ll get the mini size so I can test the product before investing any more time and money on it. Also, I feel a lot less guilt when I end up throwing out a travel size when it gets too old/expired.

Makeup wipes are a lazy-girl staple, and that means me. The problem though, is that they usually come in packs of 25 or 50, and by the time I reach the last few wipes in the bottom, it’s all dried out. To combat this, I’ve started putting the wipes in Ziploc bags. Sure, it takes an extra step every time I pull one out, but it’s worth it. The moisture will last and last, down to the last wipe. If you have small tubes of concealer or moisturizer, you might also want to consider using mini ziploc bags for safety. This is a trick that works well for household cleaning wipes, too.

Another thing I do is clean my makeup brushes religiously. Brush cleaner is expensive, so I like to wash them all at once, using Michelle Phan’s recipe. It consists of olive oil and a bit of dishwashing soap. All you have to do is swirl your brushes in the mixture, rinse it off with water, then dry them by storing them upside down in a cup using Brush Guards.

These items are also great for travel, since they protect the bristles from getting all wonky. I’ve been thinking that the original packaging or even plastic drinking straws might make an acceptable, cheap substitute, but the brushes don’t dry as well when they don’t have airflow. Still, I found a few straws that fit my Stila double-ended brushes pretty well. This is great, because I can store them dry and in a cup with the rest of my makeup brushes now that the bottom bristles are well protected.

Speaking of cleaning up, are you planning on getting rid of some of your beauty stash? You can Google how long it takes for each product to expire, but here are some quick and dirty guidelines. Anything more than two years old that isn’t nail polish or perfume needs to be tossed. Liquid products last about six months, while dry products like lip and eye pencils, powdered eye shadows and lipstick will last a year. And you need to be especially careful with eye products like eyeliner and mascara, which are quick to expire, at three months.

Here’s a tip for finding out how old your makeup isL Log onto or whatever other website you use to order makeup to check on the purchase date. If you’re a Sephora girl, be sure to use your Beauty Insider card in-store so that you can build your account history every time you buy something. It creates an online list that will come in handy the next time you need to purge your makeup collection. After all, it’s going to be so much easier to organize once you have less stuff.

Min Lee is tweeting @minjams