How to Organize Make-up and Other Toiletries

Take control of your make-up! How to get rid of old cosmetics and organize the things you actually use.

Today is Day 11 of the 30 Day Decluttering Series and we’re talking about the bathroom. Specifically make-up.

I like make-up. Therefore, I have a lot of it! And because I have a lot of it, of course it is usually a mess.

The stuff I use on a daily basis is generally scattered all over the bathroom counter and sink. I usually am getting ready for work in a rush, so I don’t take the time to put it away.

The stuff I don’t use on a daily basis is all thrown into a bin in the bathroom linen closet, and there is absolutely no organization whatsoever happening in that bin. Basically, I have absolutely no idea what I even have, which means I might be most definitely am spending money on make up I don’t need!

So, I decided to fix that.

I pulled down my make-up bin from the shelf. It was kind of heavy and it was definitely overflowing.

I subscribe to a few different beauty boxes each month, and some of them send a new cosmetic bag each time. I love getting them, but I really don’t need 287 cosmetic bags. They are quite useful for some things (I carry three of them in my purse to keep it organized, for instance), but they are still piling up. Then there are the cosmetic bags I get at make-up counters when I buy something and get their free gift. Oh how I love the free gifts at make-up counters!

But I still don’t need more cosmetic bags…

The first order of business was to go through each bag and sort what was in it. Whenever I get new stuff, I usually try it out right away, but most of it goes into the bin because I don’t need to use a new mascara or eyeliner right now.

Only things I need right now (and sometimes products I fall instantly in love with) get put into my current make-up bag.

1. Sort all make-up/toiletries into categories

I sorted everything into categories, and here is the result of that exercise:

Um. Wow!

In case you’re curious, I had over 30 lipsticks/lip glosses, 19 eye/lip pencils, 7 mascaras, 5 blushes, 17 eye shadows, 30+ random creams, and a handful of hair products. And exactly one nail polish. This made me laugh, because every time I get a new nail polish my oldest daughter makes off with it pretty darn quickly. I don’t even know how this one escaped her keen eye for nail products!

Oh, and I also had 22 cosmetic bags in that bin.

2. Throw away anything that is used up, unusable, or expired

Once I sorted into categories, I threw away anything that was used up. I had several lipsticks that were down to the point of needing a lip brush to use them. I decided to just throw them out, because honestly? I have plenty of other lipsticks and just don’t need to bother with that.

I threw out a couple things because some shimmery powder stuff had exploded all over it and it just wasn’t worth keeping. I also realized that the majority of the mascaras had been used up–I have a bad habit of using things almost up and then throwing them in the bin when I start another tube. I promise to reform myself and use the garbage can instead.

I also threw away a handful of the bags that had seen better days. Many of them I’ve had for several years, and we all know how icky they get on the inside when used for a prolonged amount of time. And then there was the shimmer explosion, too.

3. Get rid of anything you know you will not use

After I got rid of the obvious garbage, I got really honest with myself about some of the products that I knew I would never wear.

For instance, I rarely wear eye shadow, and when I do, it’s usually a very neutral color. I had some really crazy eye shadow colors in there, so I have a pile to give away to others if they want them. If not, I’ll just throw them out so they stop cluttering up my make-up bin and my life.

4. Organize make-up items by type into bags or another storage system

Once I was down to the things I was going to keep, I put each type of cosmetic into its own bag.

All the lipsticks and lip glosses (lipstick is my favorite) went into the biggest bag I had, and the other categories each got a medium-ish bag. I put about half the bags into my give away pile, and kept a couple that weren’t full. I also gave a couple to my girls to help them sort their own toiletries.

Now my make-up bin is nice and organized, and I know where to find everything!

The make-up I use most often (some of it I found in the bin) is in this larger bag that sits on the bathroom counter.

I also took the time to go through my nail polish and get it all in the same spot–a shelf in my medicine cabinet above the bathroom sink. But, like I said, most of the nail polish in this house is in a very large cosmetic bag in the girls’ bathroom that belongs to my daughter. Good thing, because I don’t have enough room in this cabinet for all of it!

This can be done with any sort of toiletry item, not just make-up. If you have a large collection of smelly lotions or body sprays—go through these steps and reduce the clutter!

Do you have any great tips for keeping your make-up organized?

Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.

Want to start the 30-day declutter challenge?

Fill out the form at the very end of this post and you will receive an email each day with a new decluttering assignment.

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Jill Morgenstern

That's a LOT of makeup girl!!!!! Have I ever tried to sell you any Jamberries?!?!?!?!? Seriously, you may as well support my Jamberry habit – we've got great nail lacquers! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Seriously though, I have the exact same problem of rushing in the mornings. It doesn't matter how well I plan ahead the night before – I somehow can't get it together to leave myself time to straighten up the bathroom counter!


I did get rid of about a third of it, if that makes you feel any better. 🙂 I do like my make-up! And I have to keep a lot around for stage performances since that requires a whole different set of stuff.

I haven't tried Jamberry yet. I would probably never wear the patterns–I am just not that fun. But if they have solids, I think it's a way cool concept. Also, I have approximately 2 million friends who are selling it now!

Jill Morgenstern

Isn't that weird? When I signed on as a consultant in December, no one had even heard of them really! Now it's like taking over the world! There are some solids, but there are WAY more patterns. I'll have to work on you for the lacquers. Those are also fantastic. 🙂


Thanks I really can use some ideas for organizing my makeup stash, I don't want my husband thinking I have too much 😉