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Makeup Spring Cleaning for Hoarders

I have a bit of hoarder in me. Not like in the show Hoarders but enough that it’s noticeably difficult for me to throw things out. Usually I have a decent excuse – for example, with clothes it’s always – maybe I’ll need that someday, maybe I’ll fit into that again, maybe I’ll give it to someone someday. But there’s always that blurry line between keeping something because you want to and keeping it because you just can’t let it go.

Here’s a story. I gave a friend an eye shadow quad in the early 90s. And because I’ve been in the industry for so long I’ve given her makeup of all kinds over the years. Maybe about 5 years ago I was in her bathroom and saw this almost empty eye shadow tray with tiny bits of cracked eye shadow in it. The tray itself was old and scratched and then I recognized it – it was the one from the 90s! I am not even kidding you. And when I told her she needed to throw it away, she looked alarmed, telling me that she can still get shadow out with a brush and it works just fine! So if you’re like me, or my friend, take it slow. There are still things you can do to spring clean, such as reorganizing so everything looks clean and new. 

I love The Container Store. Sometimes I go in just to find something to buy. Everyone there is really nice, the stores are neat and bright and they have clean customer-available bathrooms (this is big in NYC). In addition to all that, the merchandise is fantastic. Who can’t use another airtight container? What about a plastic scraper to scrape scraps off plates and save water too? Or even a clothes hamper with wheels so you never have to pick it up? It’s like watching an infomercial at 2 a.m. and seeing something that looks amazing – only it doesn’t come in the mail and it never disappoints.

Not long ago I was walking around with a friend when we saw The Container Store. I told her I’m obsessed with it and it turns out she is obsessed too. So we ran in, looking for something to buy (this is when I bought the clothes hamper…and I got it because some guy saw me looking at it and said that he had two – one for recycling and one for clothes – and that I really should buy one, so I did).

Meanwhile, my friend was walking the aisles and found a cosmetics/makeup organizer. She was so excited because she had already been thinking about organizing her bathroom counter. As soon as she got home she put everything in it and immediately sent me a picture. That’s the beauty of The Container Store. You are excited when you buy something because you anticipate going home and using it; then when you get home you’re excited again because you get the satisfaction of knowing you made a good purchase and seeing the reason you bought it. The only drawback is that because I’ve got everything stacked in storage bins I often forget I have it or I can’t find it. But you don’t have to go overboard like me.

If you do find that spring cleaning is just a matter of doing it, try these “throw it out” makeup tips:

  1. Get a new trash binto throw stuff out in. And why not a cute one? If you have hoarder tendencies, get one with a lid so you don’t look back.
  2. Go through your bathroom cabinet or wherever you store your cosmetics and look for:
  • Mascaras older than 3 months because bacteria grows more quickly in mascara than in other products. I go a little longer but this is what is recommended. I also go longer on the expiration date for yogurt and cottage cheese so you may not want to do as I do, especially with this one (they call me iron stomach, by the way).
  • Cracked, old eye shadows and blushes. You kind of know when you need to throw these out. So just do it. It also gives you an excuse to go shopping and find new ones.
  • Old wood pencil and/or swivel eye pencils that start sliding out of their tube.
  • Anything that smells funny.

I recently spoke to someone in product development for one of the top cosmetics companies and he told me that even if a foundation separates it’s OK as long as it doesn’t smell rancid. Just shake it back up.

Most companies recommend replacing makeup (that is not mascara) after 2 years. Again, I tend to go longer – my thought is that companies have to be overly careful because they are responsible and liable for their products. So you should be very safe within 2 years (unless it is indicated to throw out sooner). Always check. And, like chicken in your fridge, if you think it’s questionable, throw it out. It is your face, after all.

Once you do all this, sit back and enjoy the organized fruits of your labor. And, have a happy spring!





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