My makeup bag is a giant mess. There’s so much stuff packed in there, it’s only a matter of time before I
- Dig to the bottom in search of bronzer, only to find a secret vortex to a parallel dimension;
- Can easily substitute it for a dumbbell during at-home workouts; or, far more likely
- Open it to find an eye shadow container has exploded, and in turn ingest an unhealthy amount of purple glitter from the ensuing shimmer cloud.
Ladies, are you nodding your head in empathy? If you, too, have a cosmetic case that’s in need of some serious cleaning and a modern-day update, check out these easy tips to get started!
Discard Any Unused or Old Products
Right before your eyes, your seemingly innocent bag could be turning into a little science experiment and spawning nasty bacteria – the kind that’s often the cause for acne flare-ups and eye infections. If a funky scent or change in texture isn’t apparent, it’s best to adhere to general makeup expiration guidelines:
- Mascara: 2–3 months
- Cream foundation/concealer/blush: up to 1 year
- Powder foundation/concealer/blush: up to 2 years
- Eye shadow: 3 months
- Eyeliner: 3 months
- Lip products: 1 year, or after you’ve been sick
Clean Your Stuff
Speaking of gross bacteria, you should be giving your makeup brushes a good wash every two to three weeks, depending on the amount of buildup and quality of the bristles. I use plain old baby shampoo and let my brushes air-dry overnight, but several brands, like Bare Escentuals, now sell cleaning sprays and solutions intended for daily use if you’d prefer to wash yours more frequently. I like to give my eyeliner pencil sharpener a rinse, and I generally clean my eyelash curler, too, as it often collects sticky residue that can tug and tear at fragile lashes. And when it comes to makeup sponges, it’s best to toss those in the trash weekly.
While you’re in the cleaning groove, you’ll want to give the interior of your bag some attention as well. A disinfecting wipe usually does the trick for plastic-lined bags and sturdy train-style cases, and soft cloth versions should be as good as new after a machine wash. I also have to do a quick swipe over the outside of all my products with another one of those disinfecting wipes because… germs.
Salvage Broken Items
Before you toss a perfectly good product that’s just become misshapen or has crumbled into smaller pieces in its container, give it a second chance. It’s easy!
- For compacts, blushes and eye shadows: Add a drop of rubbing alcohol, use a butter knife to reshape the powder and then let settle
- For lipsticks: Scoop what’s left into an empty lip gloss pot, use a blow dryer to melt it into place and then let settle
Consider Investing In Multi-Purpose Items
While these are often expensive, just remember that they’ll last a long time and their versatility can eliminate the need to purchase several other products. One of my all-time favorite beauty brands, Benefit, offers several colors of cheek/lip stains and an array of luminizers that suit almost any skin tone, require minimal effort to use and are travel friendly. “The Multiple” by NARS is another functional product that’s the stuff of legend, and a favorite among professional makeup artists and beauty addicts alike.
Try Something New
I worshipped bareMinerals mineral powder foundation for years for its ability to counteract unevenness and conceal acne without looking caked on. But as I’ve gotten older, my skin’s once-oily tendencies have changed – and so has my foundation. (I will always love you, bareMinerals.)
The moral of this story is that it might be time for you to update your cosmetics based on your aging skin’s needs – and the times. Does your concealer draw unwanted attention to your crow’s feet? Does your white eye shadow make you look like a boy-crazed teenage girl? Does your cream blush make you break out? Does your climate call for a foundation with SPF? You get the point.
If you’re afraid to buy without trying, beauty retailers like Sephora and Ulta typically offer free consultations – AND FREE SAMPLES! – to help you find products that benefit your unique needs. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for anything in particular, but dig trial-sized items, consider a monthly subscription club to experiment with new trends, discover up-and-coming brands and score discounts on full-sized products. Birchbox and Sample Society are my favorites!
Get Things In Order
Sure, your beauty products can mingle in your bag – but separating them into smaller groups can condense your daily routine and keep you organized. Here’s a basic guide to help get you started.
- Base: primer, concealer, foundation, eye shadow primer
- Face: blush, bronzer, cheek stain
- Eyes: eyebrow powder, mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner
- Lips: lip balm, lipstick, lip gloss, lip stain
- Finishing touches: luminizer, loose powder, setting spray
- Tools: brushes, tweezers, eyelash curler, pencil sharpener
If your makeup collection isn’t quite as extensive, try something like this:
- Basics: foundation, eyeliner, mascara
- Office: neutral eye shadow, rosy blush, tinted lip balm
- Date night: smoky eye shadow, bronzer, shimmery lip gloss
- Special occasion: glittery eye shadow, luminizer, bright lipstick
- Tools: brushes, tweezers, eyelash curler
Now that you’re organized, isn’t it time you let that old cosmetics case off the hook? Stay tuned for my next post with creative, functional and DIY ways to store all your beloved blushes, bronzers, brushes and more!
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