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New Order

How to streamline your vanity table.
New Order How to streamline your vanity table.

We're sure you've been in makeover mood since the year started, but why not start where it really counts? Get in true spring cleaning spirit and overhaul the most important thing of all: your vanity.

A well-edited vanity table isn't just for aesthetics; having clean, updated cosmetics and tools at the ready is also extremely practical. Not only will they shave precious minutes off of your mornings, they'll also make things much easier to find, ensure your items are both up-to-date and equally used, and prevent any redundancies (alas, one bright blue eye shadow is more than enough).
Read on for a few tips on keeping your cosmetic arsenal 2010-ready:
Lay it all on the table. Yes, that means putting everything out on a flat surface, including cosmetics inside your purses, totes, travel and toiletry kits, one by painful one.

Itemize. Separate the tools from the cosmetics and arrange everything by category—brushes, foundation, moisturizer, hairspray, etc. Subcategorize as you wish, going by color—all your red lipsticks, for example, go in one bunch—or by texture or benefit—volumizing mascara, lip gloss, or body butters may each get their own groups.
Check the shelf life. Toss out mascara that's been open for more than six months (even if it doesn't smell funky, its consistency has been compromised); liquids, wax and gels that have been open for more than a year have to go, too, as well as lipsticks that have started to chalk or drag on the skin. When in doubt, go with your instinct: if your body lotion has started to separate, or if nail polish has gone gooey, then ditch those as well.

Spot the doubles. Keep, at most, two items of the exact same shade or formula: one for your vanity and one (preferably smaller version) for travel. Any more and you'll just forget you have them. Although different textures are forgiven, like shimmer vs. matte or whitening vs. moisturizing, try your best to keep it simple. Consolidate all you can into one container, like two half-empty bottles of the same body oil, to save on space.

Simplify. Makeup artist Bobby Carlos takes editing one step further: he removes the eye shadow squares from their compacts (not for the faint-hearted or packaging junkies!) and groups similar colors together in one big, transparent plastic palette, available at most supply stores. It makes finding shades easier and reminds you of all your options in one go.

Clean and groom. By this, we mean everything: scrub your vanity table, wash your makeup brushes (ideally a once-a-week habit), have your tweezers filed, de-fuzz your hairbrushes, sharpen your pencils and restock your sponges. Invest in some desk and drawer organizers to neatly display your wares, so you have them always accessible and ready to use come crunch time.

Time it. For the really serious, arrange your vanity into frequency of use, or separate your cosmetics into “day” vs. “night,” “work” vs. “play,” and the like. Again, the minor detail saves on time and decision-making effort, especially for those who switch colors or fragrances by occasion.

Oddly enough, cleaning out your vanity helps you maximize your products even more, so don't be afraid to get ruthless in editing stuff out. Organizing your war paint perfectly gets you in battle-ready shape faster—and really, isn't it a crying shame to waste precious minutes of a brand new year on rummaging through messy makeup piles?

Get crackin'!

—Eunice Lucero, Beauty Editor

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