Spring Cleaning Your Makeup Bag: Experts Give Their Best Tips

Aly Walansky

cosmetics on a table

With the new season comes new makeup trends and the craving to buy all sorts of new products. While how much you invest in is between you and your credit card, you may also want to embrace a bit of “out with the old, in with the new” this spring. Make room for new loves by tossing the broken, old, and tired products sitting around since last season.

Throw out anything broken or old.
This is especially true with mascaras and lipsticks as these will go bad (and spread dangerous bacteria) the quickest.  “I love the sectional separator inserts from Bed Bath & Beyond and The Container Store. When your makeup is divided in to sections, you can organize better and it saves time, because you can see everything and grab what you need,” says celebrity makeup artist Amanda Shackleton. While sorting out old from new, follow the general rule that mascara and liquid eye products once opened should only be kept 2-3 months, liquid foundation up to a year, and lipstick up to a year (unless you’ve been ill, then toss immediately). Many of our favorite skin care products have active ingredients that lose their efficacy as they sit around. Everything has a shelf life!

While you’re in the cleaning groove, you’ll want to clean the interior of your bag as well. A disinfecting wipe is good for any type of plastic-lined bags, and soft cloth versions you can just throw in a washing machine with your laundry. Don’t be afraid to be zealous and do quick swipe over the outside of your products with another one of those disinfecting wipes.

MORE: 10 DIY Makeup Organizer Ideas to Help With the Clutter

Minimize the amount of product you have.
Do you really need hundreds of the same type of pink lip gloss? If you crave variety, opt for smaller, travel-size products to save space. “Mini tester size mascaras and glosses are great. Most cosmetic companies will give you samples when you buy a larger one, so don’t be afraid to ask for them!” says Shackleton.

Separate products by category (lips, eyes, blush, etc.) and place in a container or organizer that separates the products. “I like to organize by color palette within the category and then from light to dark,” says professional organizing consultant Donna David, president of Donna David Company in New York City. David recommends you then store makeup in a drawer or in a cabinet away from sunlight and humidity. Do not keep makeup in the bathroom — it’s too humid of a spot where germs and bacteria can grow.

Follow the same rule on the go by using a small makeup bag.
“The bigger the bag, the more you’ll cram in there. All you need is a powder, blush, mascara, and eyeshadow. Carry products that do double duty. Instead of carrying an eyeliner and shadow, carry an eyeshadow quad that contains a dark color and then an eyeliner brush so you can apply liner if you want,” says Spafinder Wellness 365‘s de-clutter expert, Tracy McCubbin.

MORE: Spring Cleaning: Bloggers Share How They Organize Their Products

Or, go for products that do triple-duty.
“The Multiple by NARS is fantastic!” McCubbin says. “It can be blush, eye shadow, and lip color. It comes in lots of colors, so there are options for everyone. This one item is a game changer. In fact, if you’re carrying a tiny evening bag, this could be all you need.” McCubbin also recommends Smashbox CC Cream. “It’s a foundation, concealer, and sunscreen. It also comes in a .5-oz size that’s perfect for makeup bags,” she says.

It’s okay to let the guilt go.
“A huge part of de-cluttering makeup is the guilt we feel because we spent a lot of money on our makeup. We don’t want to let it go because it was expensive, so we hang on to colors that we’ll never wear or scents we don’t like because they were expensive. Those unused products are just cluttering up our makeup bags,” McCubbin says.

“Take a deep breath and acknowledge that there are a handful of products that you’ll never wear. Then take a deeper breath and acknowledge that you spent a lot of money on them. Admit you made a bad decision and then put all the makeup you don’t wear in a cute little bag and either give it to a girlfriend or drop it off at your local runaway shelter,” she recommends.

Image via Tetra/Getty Images