Building a fully-stocked collection of beauty products brings everyone great pleasure, but every once in a while, it pays to take a step back and check your stash's current state. Can you easily find products when you need them? Are you using all the products you own? If you answered no to both, and your collection has indeed turned into one messy pile of products, then it's officially time to declutter.
Although we don't have Marie Kondo on-call to sort out our product-hoarding woes, we do know fellow beauty lovers who have their decluttering system down pat, like Jillian Gatcheco, Cosmo.ph's editor-in-chief. As an editor, she regularly receives new products from brands to try, so even without shopping, the things on her desk just keep piling up. Over the years, though, she has successfully adopted techniques to keep them at bay. Keep reading for her easy tips and tricks on destashing!
1. Limit your beauty shopping.
To effectively trim down your collection, you have to control the number of products that come in. For Jillian, she tries to limit her shopping for replenishing her essentials. "I have my go-to skincare products that I replenish every two months, but for bath and body stuff, I shop every two weeks," she shares.
"The best part [of trying products as an editor] is I get to try items even before they’re in stores, so when I really like something, that's when I purchase the product," says Jillian. Bottom line: Finding out whether a product is really worth your money should weed a lot of unnecessary purchases out. Do your research and be faithful to your taste and your skin's needs!
Another way to control shopping is to commit yourself to a "no buy," which is a trending term for not allowing yourself to buy new products for a period of time. The purpose of a "no buy" is to encourage you to use things you already own instead of purchasing new ones you might not even need. It's a great way to naturally dispose of items as well by finally using them up.
2. Do monthly inventories.
Thing is, we'll never fully grasp how much stuff we own until we have all of it spread in front of us. That's why Jill recommends doing quick inventories of your collection at least once a month. "Knowing each item you own is a good sign that you're not hoarding," she says. Not only that, it can also help you rediscover things you haven't used in a while that you still like, leading you to use them instead of leaving them forgotten.
3. Check consistently for products that need to be disposed.
Part of doing inventory is finding out what needs to be tossed out or given away. Here are four conditions that Jillian uses to determine whether a product has to go:
a) If it's considered expired.
"I always check the little icon that shows how long each item's storage life is. It's called PAO, or Period After Opening. It's basically the number of months you can keep a product after opening it," she explains. Here's what the PAO seal looks like:
"Although I don't exactly write down the date I opened it (I probably should), I always make a mental note and throw away products I haven't used in months," adds Jillian. Sticking labels on your products can help you track how long you've had them open, too!
b) If it's no longer in good condition.
"I am not sentimental at all when it comes to makeup," Jillian reveals. "Sure, it could spark joy, or be associated with a happy memory, but I value my skin more. LOL!"
Yep, if you really want to destash, gather your strength and toss things you know you won't use again—no strings attached! That said, it's completely reasonable to store extra special products (like the lipstick you wore on your wedding day, for example), but do your best to keep this pile as small as possible.
For products that you've had for a while but can't recall exactly how old, Jillian's alternative is easy: "I smell everything, check the appearance [of the product], and make sure the texture feels right. Anything funky-smelling or weird-looking will be thrown away." Refer to the guide below to know when a product is considered expired:
c) If it came in contact with a virus/infection.
"I throw anything I use when I'm sick. For example, during a cold or flu, I use a specific lippie. I throw that away after I get well, just like a toothbrush," the Cosmo editor explains. "I just feel like the item is already bacteria- or virus-infested, and I don't want that back on my skin. This is especially true for mascaras, lippies, and balms."
Not to make you paranoid about your products, but Jillian definitely has a point. In case you haven't applied this rule yet, it's better late than never! Our advice? Switch to products that are already on their way to being used up (or nearly expiring, even) when you're feeling under the weather (or when you have a stye) so it won't feel too much of a waste when you dispose of them. Or, make sure to always use tools like spatulas and brushes to apply your products instead of putting them in direct contact with your sick self.
d) If you haven't used it in months.
Keeping products we think we might use in the future seems practical, but this mentality will also come haunt you in the future. Those unused products in your vanity are proof. To deal with this, Jillian employs her anti-sentimentality rule once more. "If I don't use anything for months, I throw it away, or give it to my mom if it's barely used and it looks brand-new. There's no use waiting for the product to expire and just letting it sit around. Either throw it or let someone else use it!"
e) If you don't like it as much as you did before.
There will be products that you'll change your mind about or lose interest in overtime. According to Jillian, when she finds that a product doesn't work the same way anymore or when she simply grows out of it, she considers it for disposal. "If this goes on for months, I throw the item away," she resolves.
4. Donate responsibly.
Sadly, no matter how sterile you are with your products, not everything is safe to give away. Skincare and makeup that are packaged in pots or jars, for example, are prone to continamination especially when they weren't used with a spatula or brush. On the other hand, those dispensed with a pump or powder type products are safer to pass on. That said, it still depends on the current state of the item and who'll be receiving it.
In Jillian's case, she gives away products when she has used it only once and found that it doesn't suit her. As for her usual recipients, she shares, "I only give products I have sterilized to my immediate family, like my mom or sister." Don't have enough beauty lovers in your circle? Consider donating to causes like The Foundation Foundation, a volunteer group that gives gently used beauty products to victims of sex trafficking.
5. Be strict with what goes to your "keep" pile.
The whole point of decluttering is to only keep what you really need, or in Marie Kondo-speak, what "sparks joy." For Jillian, this means products she uses regularly or at least once every two weeks. "This encourages me to rotate products I use, to make sure nothing goes to waste before they expire. It also helps me keep my collection lean and manageable," she explains.
We know doing this becomes challenging for high-end items, but you just have to go for it! "It's always tough to throw away pretty packaging or luxury brands," the Cosmo.ph EIC admits, "but TBH, they are not worth the clutter. As I said, I'm practical, not sentimental, when it comes to makeup and skincare. If it doesn't work or if it's expired, toss it! I love my skin more." For one, Jill says that if her skin has reacted negatively to a product, no matter how expensive it is, she ditches it. In fact, the more you do it, the easier it'll become!
6. Categorize to organize.
Since Jillian is consistently sent products to try, she tries to organize them the moment she receives them. "[Press samples] usually pile up during summer and the holidays, when brands tend to have more stuff to introduce to the market. I remember going on vacation leave and returning to my desk that had a mini mountain of products. It was like Christmas!"
However, the editor clarifies that most of the products she receives from brands are handed over to Cosmo's beauty department for testing. She says she only keeps around 40% of the products, and here are her tips for organizing those:
a) Use clear storage containers.
"As for the 40% I keep, I add them to my vanity at home, which I like to keep organized using clear acrylic containers," says the editor. "You know how Marie Kondo uses boxes to compartmentalize? I do exactly that. Multiple small boxes for every single thing: lippies, foundations, pencils, brushes, and miscellaneous tubes.
Jillian says clear containers help her find products easily at home. "You'd be surprised how many storage options you can find from your kitchen: Mason jars, wine glasses, and pretty bowls and tea cups can be interesting accent pieces for your vanity," she suggests.
b) Assign categories for each container.
Grouping your products into different categories immediately reduces the mess in your collection. It'll also make things easier to spot when you're looking for a specific product. For makeup, separating base products from those for eyes and lips is a great start. You can even assign a container for products nearing their expiry date so you're more likely to use them up. Arranging them in the order you use them or labeling the containers itself should help make things easier to spot as well!
Got any more decluttering tips? Let us know in the comments below!