Are you an aspiring makeup artist? Tired of digging through drawers or cosmetics bags to find that perfect eyeshadow? Either way (or simply if you’re a neat freak), organizing your makeup products is a must! But what’s the best way to sort and store your cosmetics collection?
Take it from the pros: proper makeup organization helps your products last longer and your makeup designs look better! That’s because you’ll be able to find the right item in less time and keep it from getting spoiled or damaged. Follow this step-by-step guide on how to organize your makeup, along with some expert makeup organizer ideas.
Select the Right Organizer
First, let’s talk about where you store your makeup. If you’ve been keeping it in the bathroom, that needs to change immediately. Bathrooms are warm, wet environments — perfect for mold and bacteria buildup (yuck!) No matter how sanitary you are, your products are at risk of contamination if you keep them in the bathroom.
So, let’s say you’ve moved your makeup to a vanity, dresser, or even a dedicated glam room. (Yasss!) You could keep it all in drawers or those zippered bags you get from the beauty department. But makeup is delicate. Any pressed-powder products (eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, etc.) can easily shatter if they’re knocked around or crushed. Liquid products (e.g. mascara, concealer, etc.) generally need to be stored upright for best results. And let’s not even think about the horror of a slightly open pot of glitter bouncing around your drawer.
The solution: a dedicated cosmetics organizer. There are many types on the market. Generally, you’ll want an acrylic or vinyl organizer that can be easily cleaned. These organizers also help keep moisture and dust off your products.
To choose the best type of organizer, look at the products you need to organize. Are you an eyeshadow addict? Choose an organizer with lots of slim drawers to store all your palettes flat. Need to keep all your lip glosses in a clean, leak-free place? Some organizers have vertical compartments perfect for storing liquid products.
And don’t forget your brushes: they last longest when they are stored in a dry place with the bristles facing upward. To keep dust and stray hairs off them, look for a dedicated brush organizer with a lid.
Declutter and Clean Your Makeup Collection
Once you’ve got your basic setup for your makeup storage, it’s time to clean house. Start by getting rid of any makeup you no longer want. (Time to make way for amazing new hues!) Then, declutter by removing any spoiled makeup.
Sadly, most makeup does not last long. Liquid and cream products are prone to oxidation, in which oxygen reacts with the ingredients. This is what causes your foundations and concealers to turn orange over time. Obviously, any oxidized makeup should be discarded.
Anything that comes into contact with your face will start to grow bacteria over time. The same is true for products that rely on a wand or built-in brush. This means that mascaras, lip-glosses, liquid concealers, and liquid eye color all should be discarded after 3 months.
Makeup products that you dispense onto a sponge or brush last longer, but they still go bad over time. Liquid foundations last between 6 months to a year. Cream- or wax-based concealers, color sticks, lipsticks, and eyeliners last about a year. Pencil eyeliners last 2 years.
Powder-based products last the longest. You can generally keep your setting powder, eyeshadow palettes, blushes, and bronzers for about 2 years, assuming they don’t break.
Here’s that toss-it guide in a nutshell:
- Liquid foundations: 1 year (sooner if it oxidizes/the color changes)
- Liquid concealers: 6 months to 1 year
- Cream-based foundations and concealers: 1 year
- Wax-based concealer and color sticks: 1 to 2 years (sooner if it oxidizes/the color changes)
- Loose powder (including setting powder and bronzer): 2 years
- Pressed blush, bronzer, or setting powder: 2 years
- Liquid eyeliners: 6 months (sooner if it thickens or smells funny)
- Pressed-powder eyeshadow (single and palette): 2 years
- Cream eye color: 6 months to 1 year
- Eye glitter: 2 years
- Mascaras: 3 to 4 months (sooner if it gets clumpy or smells funny)
- Pencil eyeliners: 2 years
- Gel or wax-based eyeliners: 3 to 6 months
- Lipsticks: 6 to 8 months
- Lip glosses: 3 to 6 months
- Pencil lipliners: 2 years
- Gel or wax-based lipliners: 3 to 6 months
Categorize Your Makeup
Once you’ve decluttered your collection, it’s time to sort all your products into categories.
First, let’s review the types of cosmetics products and their purposes:
- Prep: primer
- Corrective color: foundation, concealer, highlighter, contouring powder/ cream
- Face color: blush, bronzer, color sticks
- Eye color: eyeshadow, cream eye color, eyeliner
- Lash color and styling: mascara, eyelash curler, false eyelashes, spoolie
- Lip color: lip balm, lipstick, lip gloss, lip stain
- Brow styling: brow liner, brow shadow, brow gel, brow brush
- Finishing: setting powder or spray
You should keep similar products together — and make them accessible in the order you need them. For example, keep your primer and corrective color within easy reach so you can get started quickly.
Most professional makeup artists sort by type, then brand, then hue. This allows them to instantly find the precise product they need for a given look. If you don’t have multiple products from a given brand (or if all your products are the same brand), skip this and start with sorting by hue.
Sorting by hues can be tricky. You could sort by color family: blues, golds, pinks, etc. However, many pro MUAs sort by color family and temperature so they can find complementary shades for each client. For example, your warm pinks and reds (coral, berry, crimson) can be grouped together, with cooler pinks and reds (magenta, burgundy, wine) in their own category.
Your overall color organization scheme is up to you. However, many makeup pros find it easier to keep similar purposes and hues together. You could group complementary products together as well. For example, your coral lip gloss goes well with your champagne eyeshadow, while your bubble-gum-pink lipstick pairs with your navy-blue eye cream.
Another option is to break out your evening/glam looks into their own category. Intense eyeshadows, vivid glitter creams, and dramatic lipstick hues could be included in this group, then sorted by purpose and hue. It’s up to you!
Make Use of Makeup Organizers
So, now your makeup’s categorized and inventoried. It’s time to give each group of products a home! You have two main options:
- Designate each compartment of your organizer for a specific purpose, then subdivide color family/hue/complementary group. So, for example, keep all lipsticks in one drawer but sort by hue (blue-reds, corals, purples, nudes, etc.)
- Group your cosmetics by overall tone and style, then sort by style. So, for example, keep all warm hues together, then group them into eyeshadows, lipsticks, etc.
Only have one organizer? Want to further categorize your products? Here are some makeup organizer ideas from pro MUAs:
Use a spice rack to hold your nail polishes and liquid products.
Keep your go-to hues (especially pressed-powder products that need to stay flat) on a cake stand.
Store your liquid products upright in beautiful candleholders.
Attach magnetic strips to lipsticks, color creams, etc. and attach them to a magnetic bullet board above your vanity.
Of course, the best option is always to invest in a durable, easily cleaned makeup organizer to keep your products safe. Check out Lumina Pro’s 5-Slot Brush Organizer and 5-Drawer Acrylic Organizer for some great options!
What makeup organization tips do you have to share? Let us know in the comments!