Spring is finally here, which means it’s time to clean your makeup brushes, switch up your skincare routine and of course, update your beauty stash. But if cleaning out your makeup bag gives you as much anxiety as Marie Kondo-ing your closet, don’t panic: we tapped the pros to share the secrets that keep their kits organized on a daily basis.
Below, the brilliant tricks that will save your hands and products from ever being smeared with black eyeliner again.
1. Store creams in a pill box
One of the most Instagrammable components of any makeup artist’s kit? Perfectly-curated palettes of lipsticks and concealers, which cut down on bulky bottles and keep everything in one place. Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes says, “If you’re at the end of a lipstick, scoop that out with the end of a spoon or something and smush it into a pill box to create a little on-the-go makeup palette.”
2. When in doubt, throw it out
“Mascara should be replaced every two to three months, even if you’ve only used it a few times,” says makeup artist Laura Geller. “Now is a great time to throw out the old one and swap in a new one.”
Don’t remember when you purchased any product? Give it a whiff — if it doesn’t smell right to you, chances are it’s had its day. And “if it’s something you haven’t used in six months, you’re probably not going to use it at all, so get rid of it,” says Hughes. (A good rule of thumb for everything in your wardrobe, though it’s easier said than done.)
And going forward, keep a Sharpie in your makeup bag to date jars or pots from the time you opened them. That tiny icon of a jar with a number inside it on the bottom of all your moisturizers and concealers? That’s how many months the product is good for, which will help keep you honest and your makeup bag tidy.
3. Always keep anti-bacterial wipes on hand
“Straight up Wet Ones are the best — not a makeup wipe,” Hughes says of what she relies on to clean up a makeup mess. “Anything that doesn’t have too much oil, because then you’ll have to clean it again to get rid of the oil.” Throw a few in a sealed plastic bag, or buy a travel-size pack to stash in your bag.
4. Don’t abuse your BeautyBlender
Your beloved BeautyBlender might make your skin look flawless, but the sponge itself is prone to getting icky. So after you wash it right away (right?), make sure to store it in a smart way. “Ialways see my friends with a nasty BeautyBlender in their bag,” says Hughes. “I tell them to keep it in a mesh jewelry bag — something that lets air in, but keeps it concealed from everything else in the makeup bag.”
5. Re-purpose small containers
If you’re struggling with a messy pigment or a crumbled eye shadow, makeup artist Kristofer Buckle recommends buying empty paint dispensers (yes, the ones you used during arts and crafts as a kid) from the craft store and pouring one shade into each compartment. It’ll be easy to take on the go, while also keeping things neat.
For other random items like spoolies or cotton buds, Hughes works with things around her house. “I keep my Q-Tips in metal bandage boxes, or I buy the travel size cotton bud boxes and keep re-using them. Any nice packaging that comes with products — the packaging that Warby Parker glasses come in? I use them to store things,” she says.
6. Beware of broken lids
“The things that actually make your makeup bag muddy are broken lids from eye liner and lip liner pencils, and pencil sharpeners,” Hughes warns. “I keep my pencil sharpener in a tiny Ziploc bag, or a cloth jewelry bag.”
And Buckle’s trick might seem obvious, but it works: “I just buy a pencil cases at a craft store,” he says.