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  • Rebecca Landesman

Purge vs. Purchase: Makeup Drawer Edition

Updated: Jul 27


We’ve run out of excuses for procrastinating this. There’s nowhere left to run. It’s finally time you take the plunge. Welcome to Purge vs. Purchase: Makeup Drawer edition. Or makeup shelf? Bag? Bucket? Box?


We’re bringing you a no-fuss guide to decluttering your makeup products and area, so you can make room for the things you actually use and find what you’re looking for without digging through heaps of bent bobby pins and dried out mascara tubes.

A note to the reader: Get yourself into the purging mindset. You will have to toss things out. Sensations of separation anxiety are normal. Reward yourself with some new things when you’re done!


Purge: Old lipsticks, mascaras, concealers and foundations.


All products have a shelf life label on them somewhere near the ingredient list. This is an easy rule of thumb for managing your product turnover.

Check this label on your products to know how long the product lasts after opening.


Products like mascara should generally be tossed after 3-4 months, whereas foundations and concealers can last 6-12 months. Anything beyond that timeframe encourages bacteria to grow on the makeup, and the last place you want to introduce bacteria to is the sensitive skin on your face, eyes, and lips. Powdered products like bronzers and blushes can last up to 2 years.


If you can’t remember how long ago you purchased a product, err on the side of purge. If you can’t remember how long ago you used a product, also purge. Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of products that are relatively unused or aren’t that old, but if you’ve outgrown them or they no longer work for you, don’t let them linger in your makeup space. Give away unused or gently used products to friends or donate them to a good cause like Beauty Bus.

Purchase: One of each, or many of one.


When buying new products think quality over quantity. Splurge a bit on foundation—or your favorite product—if you use it often. Rather than buying multiple lesser quality items purchase one staple item that you know you’ll use frequently and that works well for you.


If you’re really into one specific type of product like lipstick, buy a couple, but don't waste money and space on items you don't really need—buy things you know you’re going to use.

Save space by opting for palettes. Consider one eyeshadow palette instead of many single pots, and opt for a color scheme that’s versatile and works for you. This Tarte palette has 12 matte and microshimmer shades that are perfect for day and night, or this one from Morphe has tons of fun options packed into one.

Purge: Miscellaneous brushes and dirty sponges.


Take this opportunity to get rid of all of the random and single-use brushes that have found their way into your makeup area. Once you've narrowed it down to the keepers, use a gentle dish soap or facial cleanser to rinse your brushes, or try a brush cleaner like this bestseller from Mac. Regularly washing makeup brushes is a must.


Sponges have a short lifespan, especially when they’re used regularly because they absorb bacteria like, well, a sponge. Swap sponges out each month if you can. Brushes can be kept for years as long as they’re cleaned often.

Purchase: Beauty blender or brush set.


All you really need is a full face set—powder brush, cheek brush, a sponge or brush for foundation, a blending brush, and a crease pencil or liner brush—but it can be hard to keep your collection this limited. If you want options, try this brush set from Sephora. It comes with a brush roll for easy storage and 10 essential brushes for a complete makeup look—and then some.


This beauty blender is tried-and-true, but the price point makes it difficult to toss out every month, but at least keep it clean with regular washes!

Purge: Random makeup boxes and bags.


If your makeup is strewn about haphazardly and only you can decode your “organization system,” there’s a problem. Get rid of any random receptacles that you use for storage. Sort and separate your cosmetics by category and determine how much space you really need, whether it’s a dedicated countertop or a drawer (or two).


Purchase: Organizers and containers.


If you’ve got a vanity, counter, or makeup area where you want to keep your makeup visible purchase some organizers that stack vertically so you can make the most of your space. Modular containers are great for storing products of various sizes. Consider trays, cups, or drawers that will help you declutter and will keep things orderly and easy to find.


This Container Store collection lets you mix and match components to perfectly fit your needs, and it’s made of clear acrylic so you can easily locate any products you need. You can also get creative with these Ikea storage units or these drawer inserts.


Make space for new products and trends, and take advantage of this time to get your makeup area in order for the next time you get dolled up, which may or may not be in 2021.

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