Stop the Madness: 6 Expert Tips on How to Declutter Your Makeup Collection

Last week, my Instagram stories were filled with similar images: mountains of clothes piled high atop various beds. “Marie Kondo made me do it,” one person captioned their picture.

Netflix’s new series Tidying up with Marie Kondo—which follows the well known Japanese organizing consultant as she tries to declutter various people’s lives—has clearly left people shook and examining their own hoarding tendencies. Even I took to my own closet shortly after watching to see about making some (much needed) cuts. And while I breezed through that process, when I got to my bathroom it was a whole different story.

I rummaged through the bins of overflowing makeup and the cupboards filled to the brim with skincare. I tried holding each lipstick in my hand, realizing with panic that although I owned 15 nudes, I couldn’t part with a single one. It made me wonder, what exactly does a makeup lover do when everything under Sephora’s roof sparks joy?

To answer this philosophical dilemma, I called up makeup artists Sheri Stroh and Jodi Urichuk who schooled me on how to downsize the right way. So get ready to purge, because spring cleaning is coming early this year.

Pile up your products

That’s right, do the signature Kondo pile up. Take all of your makeup and put it in one massive heap. “You’ll probably be horrified when you see it all like that and you’ll realize how much you don’t use and how much needs to be thrown away,” says Stroh. “Only keep what makes you feel like a million bucks.” She mentions that this is also a great way to rediscover old favourites; when we’re constantly buying new stuff we often forget about the gems we already have at home.

Figure out what your essentials are

Determine which products you can’t live without. This will be different for everyone depending on what “sparks joy”. For Urichuk, she prioritizes skincare. “I feel like if you take care and protect your skin, the rest is simple.” For Stroh, her must-haves include bronzer and a creamy cheek highlighter. “I think makeup is so intimidating for some people and that’s actually why they end up keeping so much,” she says. “When decluttering, first go through and pick out the things you never use, the things you bought on impulse or that you haven’t even opened yet. Then you’ll find your essentials.”

Keep a couple of fun items

Neutral palettes definitely get a lot more use than colourful ones, but decluttering shouldn’t mean throwing out everything fun. Keep a couple of things that aren’t in your everyday makeup routine. “And don’t just save these items for special occasions,” says Urichuk. “They go bad or turn if they’re creams or liquids in six to 12 months.” For products that will last a little longer, Stroh recommends fun items like pastel or jewel-toned eyeliners and bold lipsticks.

Be wary of expiration dates

As discussed above, makeup does have an expiry date. When you’re decluttering, don’t hold on to things you know are beyond their time. Pay extra attention to products that are cream-based, contain water or get exposed to the air often. “I use a lot of green beauty products and I do find that they don’t last as long as conventional brands,” Stroh mentions.

Keep multi-purpose products

Multi-purpose products are amazing when it comes to space saving and they’re great for the bank account, too. “I’m a working mom and I have zero time,” says Urichuk. “So I live for these multitaskers.”

Get your makeup storage just right

“If you can’t see it, odds are you won’t use it,” says Urichuk. “Like your closet, the rules are the same for your makeup bag. I have a few clear bins with things that I love but don’t wear regularly and I switch them in for a change-up every couple of weeks.” Both makeup artists also recommend make-your-own palettes and de-potting things you already own. “I know that people love palettes, but for me whenever I buy one I only use a couple of eyeshadows and there always ends up being ones that I don’t even touch,” says Stroh. “So building your own is really nice. You get exactly what you want and what you’ll use.”