Struggling to keep on top of your beauty stash? We asked the experts how they tidy up …
Speaking as an inveterate hoarder, I find that keeping beauty and skincare organised can be a challenge. Regular clear-outs are essential, but lipsticks and mini perfumes still find their way into most pockets and areas of the house. I have a weakness for style over function, and favour glass candle jars (much prettier than Perspex) for things like brushes and eyeliners; maybe it’s a throwback to the rainbow Crayola crayons we loved as kids, but I find I use them more if they’re on display. So I have a preference for candles that don’t just smell great, but also with a view to their afterlife – I always rave about Cloon Keen’s silver glass pots as they make unbeatable brush holders, chunky and solid, with an antique-ish reflective quality.
These Jo Malone London charity candles are an annual favourite (since 2012), too: they’re €60, with 75 per cent (less VAT) of the RRP going to support charities, including mental health charities. This year’s scent is Hemlock & Bergamot; I haven’t smelled it but the pot, with its bright butterfly design, is lovely, though my favourite is the lush purple and green Iris & Lady Moore.
I re-use all kinds of boxes to keep samples in, such as a beauty advent calendar with little drawers to keep lipsticks in. My main storage is a haberdasher’s grass-fronted cabinet, so that palettes and bottles are on view, like an old-fashioned sweetshop but for beauty. I have an ancient wooden storage unit from an old school – bought slightly accidently at a fire sale many years ago – which has pull-down doors, so is ideal for skincare, protecting bottles from the light. Perfumes are also in a glass-fronted cabinet – crucially away from light.
I now put a sticker on a new mascara noting the date I open it, so that I’m not tempted to keep hold of it too long; I’m trying to do this with skincare too, to keep track. I confess to having an “archive” box of old and past-using make-up just for research/interest/historical interest (mainly my own), and felt slightly better when make-up artist extraordinaire, Christine Lucignano told me she does the same, keeping prized items such as an original brush given to her by Mr Shu Uemura himself back in the 1990s.
I make regular visits to Fusion in Dun Laoghaire, one of the many drop-off points nationwide for the Hygiene Bank (@hehygienebankire; www.thehygeinebank.ie) – the ideal home for new and unused shampoo, shower gel and similar items (perhaps unwanted gifts) – go online to find a drop-off point near you.
Ask the experts
Since I seem to be the polar opposite of a “cleanfluencer”, I consulted an expert. How does a pro make-up artist keep control of all their creams, brushes and samples? Christine Lucignano (@cloochy) has both her pro kit, for clients such as Angela Scanlon, and her own products to keep track of. She keeps the two entirely separate. “Organisation is key. I have a trolley for my beauty products, with clear inserts for brushes. I arrange everything by section; I travel so much that I have to be super-organised. I’m generous with samples – I always try out new things, but will then pass on rather than not finish a product; I hate waste and do anything I can to avoid it.”
Her key tip is arming yourself with BeautySoClean sanitising mist (available online) – “it’s the perfect way to keep samples really clean, particularly cream products, as it doesn’t mess with the formulas of cosmetics and has no horrible scent; I’m addicted to it and use it all the time.”
She also advises: “Get familiar with the scent of your favourite products so you can tell when they are past their best. And don’t use your fingers to apply – I keep cotton buds handy at all times, and it’s a good habit to get into. The most important use-by dates to observe are of course mascaras.” You shouldn’t keep a mascara for more than six months, and keep an eye on the smell and texture of it.
We asked journalist and podcaster Aisling Keenan how she sorts her beauty buys and samples.
“When it comes to storing and organising the (frankly insane) beauty collection I have, I have to keep on top of it or it’ll spiral out of control. I have a “new in” container from IKEA (called Drona) that houses everything recent, so from the preceding fortnight usually, which I then either trial and test, take pictures of for social, or decide doesn’t fit with anything I’m writing. When I’ve made the decision on each product, I then sort them into larger containers (Kuggis from IKEA). I have one for skincare, one for haircare, one for cosmetics, and then a miscellaneous one that houses tan, devices and accessories. I also store things I love and will definitely use in my “backstock” box.
For my personal beauty use, I organise using those little Skubb boxes from IKEA (again!) that fit neatly into my drawer unit, so everything is kept tidy. I display my fragrances, mostly because they’re so pretty but also because if they were locked away I’d forget to use them 90 per cent of the time. I’m a big believer in not saving the good stuff for special occasions, just use it, that’s why you have it. Anything to make a dull day feel a bit brighter!
In terms of organisation in general, my number one rule is: find a place for absolutely everything. Make a room map, writing down where everything is and where everything goes (I use Google Sheets for this) and then when it comes to tidying, your job is easy and – dare I say it – enjoyable. If something new comes into the space, as often happens, find a space to store it straight away, and if no space is available, donate something, recycle something or find something a new home so that the new item has a place. It takes being ruthless to be meticulously tidy, and it also takes patience to get the initial system in place, but once it’s in, you’re winning.”