This may sound like a painful exercise, but it’s guaranteed to simplify your makeup wardrobe faster than anything. It will also keep you from spending money on things you already own or repeating the common mistake of buying products that you never use.
Gather up all the makeup products in your life your essentials from the bathroom cabinet or vanity table, your ancillary items stuck in various tote bags and pocketbooks, coat and jacket pockets, and from the glove compartment. Dump everything on the floor and arrange like products together, i.e., put all lipsticks in one pile; foundations in another; shadows in another; pencil liners in another; and so on.
Toss anything that you’ve had for two years or longer (see Expiration Dates).
Smell everything. Toss anything that has a funny or musty odor.
Toss anything that’s chipped, messy, or runny.
Throw out brushes that are falling apart and puffs and sponges that are dirty or falling apart.
Check to see if any liquids have separated. If so, dispose of them.
Throw out anything that you have not touched in the past six months even that perfect red lipstick you’ve been saving. If you haven’t found an occasion to wear it now, you probably won’t ever like the aqua eye shadow you bought to match that aqua bridesmaid’s dress. (I try to apply this same cleaning-out standard to my wardrobe.)
Edit out any colors that are just plain ugly or garish.
Throw out any colors that are pasty or dull-looking shades that don’t do anything for your skin tone.
Weed out makeup that has a strong shimmer or frost.
Analyze what’s left: What are the dominant colors? What are the products you use every day? What were the most obvious mistake purchases? The optimum makeup organization is to have two kits your home supplies, from which you never steal for travel or daytime touch-ups, and your day kit/travel kit, which ideally comprises a stand-alone system in smaller sizes.
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