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How to Downsize Makeup to Just the Essentials

Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for a better beauty routine. 

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Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for a better beauty routine. | We Three Shanes

How to Downsize Makeup to Just the Essentials

Last year I decided to cut my wardrobe in half. I came up with a plan, set a date, and got to work. It has streamlined getting ready in the morning, freed up space, cut back on spending, saved me time on laundry day, helps me dress better and beat the mom blahs.

Since downsizing my wardrobe went so well I started to think about what other areas of my life and home needed a good decluttering. So many things came to mind but for some reason makeup wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t until we did a post on our makeup storage that I realized I had way too much.

First of all, I don’t wear makeup everyday. I’m a bit lazy that way. When I do decide to throw some on, I usually stick to the same stuff. If you read our makeup storage post you’d see I was using an organizer that went on top of the counter, one that went inside a drawer, plus my caboodle I got as a tween.

Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for better beauty routine.  | We Three Shanes

While taking photos for the makeup storage post, I noticed how cluttered my bathroom counter looked with a bulky makeup organizer sitting on it. But, I also realized I wouldn’t be able to fit everything in one drawer. A makeup decluttering session was necessary.


Why Declutter?

I love to declutter so I was pretty excited to get started on downsizing my makeup. Why do I love to declutter? Everything in your house takes up space. We get used to stuff being there regardless of whether we use it or not.

Decluttering gets all the unused and unwanted things out of our way. It frees up space which makes things much easier to organize. An organized house is much easier to clean and keep in order. This leads to a much more sane me.

You also might not realize that our things take up time. The more stuff we have to clean, dig through, or put away the less time we have for more important things in life.

Would I rather do 8 loads of laundry or downsize my families clothes and only do 4 loads? How much time do I want to spend washing dishes every day or picking up toy after toy? Decluttering helps us free up our time and no one needs more time during the day than a mom.

Downsizing also helps us to define things we want in our life. If you’ve been keeping up with Marie Kondo, the Japanese decluttering and organizing genius, then you know you should only keep things that spark joy.

For me, once I learned what things really bring me joy, it became easier to keep things out of our home. I wasn’t just shopping to shop and I started to only buy things that spark joy, not just something that was on sale. That hard earned cash isn’t being blown on just anything these days.

Decluttering can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. It’s that exact reason that I love to do smaller projects like downsizing makeup. This is something I can do in 30 minutes and still make a good impact.


Signs You Need to Downsize Your Makeup

While I do think everyone can benefit from a makeup declutter session, if you’re not sure you need one then consider these points:

  • When is the last time you threw makeup away? If it’s been years it might be time for a decluttering. I’m pretty sure I still had eyeliner from high school. Yikes!
  • Do you have favorite shades that you can’t pass up when you see them on sale? This is another big problem of mine. Buying duplicate makeup only fills up your space and makes cash disappear. Those duplicate colors need to go.  I promise you don’t need 20 slightly different colors of brown eyeshadow.
  • They have discontinued your favorite lipstick color and you’ve bought tons of new ones to try because you have yet to find the perfect replacement. It’s ok to let the ones you don’t like go. It’s hard to spend money on something only to realize it doesn’t really work for you. That doesn’t mean you keep it around. If it doesn’t work now it’s not going to suddenly start working for you later. 

How to Downsize Makeup

Ok. Now that I’ve told you the why behind my makeup downsize, lets get on with the actual decluttering steps. Keep in mind that everyone has a different amount of makeup so I’ll try to break steps down as much as possible so you can follow.

  1. First step is to pull out all your make up: day to day makeup, occasional makeup, halloween makeup, every last bit of it.
  2. Now you can do a quick sweep for any makeup that has expired.

Makeup Expiration Dates

I’m going to be honest with you. I would have only been left with like 3 products if I had done this step. Product expiration is not something I’m going to lecture you on. I’ll give you some basic guidelines and you can decide what’s best for you.

  • Anything liquid for your face like foundation, bb cream, concealer, primer should be tossed after 12 months.
  • All powder makeup like eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, compact/loose powder can last between 18-36 months
  • Lip and eyeliner pencils should go between 24-36 months
  • Toss lipstick after 18 months
  • Lipgloss after 12 months
  • Liquid liner expires after 6 months
  • Mascara should be tossed between 3-4 months

Again these are just guidelines. The biggest reason to throw away expired makeup is because of bacteria that can cause infection. Another reason is breakdown, making it more difficult to apply makeup smoothly.

The oils, water, and humectants are where germs and bacteria like to grow so liquid stuff needs to be tossed more frequently while powders can last much longer.


Getting Down to the Basics

Now that you’ve tossed what you wanted to based off of expiration dates, lets get back into the makeup decluttering steps.

Look for makeup that you only use on special occasions. This could be halloween makeup or makeup you use when getting dressed up. Set it to the side for now. We’ll deal with it later.

  1. First, break down all of your makeup into sections. All lipliners and lipstick go in one group, all eyeshadows in another and so on. 

  1. Starting with your smallest category you’re going to break things down even more. Example – all eye primers in one section, all eyeliners in another, mascara in its own section and then eyeshadows grouped together.

  1. Next take everything you just separated and do it again but this time by color. All brown eyeliners are separated from black ones and all color eyeliners go together. Do this with your eyeshadows as well.

  1. Pick out your go-to makeup in each color section. What do you always use? What do you tend to grab first? Those are automatic keepers. Set them aside. You’re keeping them. Example – You have 4 brown eyeliners. Grab the one you use the most and set it aside. The other 3 go in their own pile. Now do the same with black eyeliner, shadows, primers, mascaras. 

  1. In step 4 you want to think about color palettes as well. I go with brown and neutral colors the most so those are my go-tos. I do also wear blacks and grays even if they’re not as often as browns.

I took my go-tos for browns first and then I grabbed my go-tos for blacks. I might not use blacks everyday but I use them enough that I knew I wanted to keep some. I grabbed my favorite brown shadow pack and eyeliner and then my favorite gray shadow pack and black liner.

Example – You have 4 brown eyeliners. Grab the one you use the most and set it aside. The other 3 go in their own pile. Now do the same with black eyeliner, shadows, primers, mascaras. 

Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for better beauty routine.  | We Three Shanes

Most of the time we have our favorite makeup that we grab everyday. We know how to put it on with out thinking about it.  It looks good with anything we decide to throw on that day. We can get it done quick so we can get errands run.

Whatever the reasons we know what looks best for our own day to day adventures. This is the makeup we want at our finger tips. We want it organized and ready to grab. Now we need to figure out why we have the rest and if we really need to keep it.


Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for a better beauty routine. | We Three Shanes

Deciding What Makeup Stays and Goes

Ok. Now that we know what we really use everyday and have set it aside, we have to figure out what to do with the rest of our makeup.

1. We know these aren’t our favorites but let’s examine why. Try to think about the reasons you don’t use these cosmetics regularly. Do they wear off easily? Are they tricky to put on? Is the color not quite what you thought it would be?

2. After asking yourself these questions go ahead and toss any cosmetics that you know right away you don’t want. When I started to ask myself  why I didn’t use certain products it was easy to get rid of them.

I realized after asking these questions I knew exactly why I didn’t use certain pieces of makeup. However, I spent money on them so I had a hard time letting them go.

3. When you have a product you’re just not sure about you can try it on. Trying everything on can take a lot of time. I like to quickly draw lines on my hands to see what colors really look like. I did try on some lipliners and lipsticks here and there to really see what they look like on. 

4. If you like the product but it’s a duplicate, as in similar color to another product, then set it to the side. You only need one duplicate so pick your favorite and get rid of the rest. I know it can be difficult to get rid of good makeup but just remind yourself that it’s going to simply things.

5. You should only be left with two sets, your favorites that you grab everyday and your one backup set.

6. Keep going through this process until you’ve made it through each section of makeup.

7. Now that you have the whole process down go back to your occasional makeup you set aside at the beginning.  Go through everything the same way you went through your other makeup. Get rid of duplicates and anything you don’t think you’ll use again.

Quick Tip:   What if you really like one shade of shadow or blush that’s in a set? Is it worth taking up a big amount of space up for one color? Hold onto that set for now but start looking for the shade in a single pack. 


How to Organize Your Downsized Makeup

Once you’re done going through every last bit of your makeup you should have 3 sets of makeup; your favorites, your favorite duplicates, and occasional makeup.

Your favorites are what’s going to into your makeup bag, drawer, or organizer that you use everyday. All of mine went into the bathroom drawer organizer because it’s where I put my makeup on.

Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for better beauty routine.  | We Three Shanes

Your set of duplicates are going into a makeup bag. Put this makeup bag with into your travel bag. Now when you travel you will take this set of makeup with you. It’s similar to your favorites so you’ll be able to use them the same way and you have one less step when packing for a trip. 

I know I have enough things to stress about before a big trip. Having a makeup bag already packed really does help.

Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for better beauty routine.  | We Three Shanes

Your occasional makeup gets stored away. Somewhere that you don’t have to dig through everyday. You know where it is and on those infrequent times of need you can easily grab it from its hiding place. I use my caboodle for this.

After I downsized my makeup I was able to get rid of the counter top organizer I was using. It gives my bathroom a cleaner, more open feel. Everything fits easily into a drawer organizer, out of sight.Here’s everything that I got rid of during this decluttering process. It’s a great amount that is no longer in my way.

Learn how to downsize your makeup collection to just the essential with this easy to follow, step by step guide and helpful photos. Minimize makeup for a better beauty routine.  | We Three Shanes

Minimized makeup means that I can quickly get my makeup done, instead of wasting time digging through containers of similar colored eyeshadow, trying to decide which one to use. I have a simple beauty routine which is great because I love to sleep in and don’t leave much time for makeup.


Keeping Makeup to a Minimum

Now that you downsized your makeup, you’re going to want to keep it to a minimum. It can be hard to break those bad buying habits. Here are some tips that have helped me stick to the essentials.

  • Think about more important things you might want to spend your money on. Even though one small product might not cost much, it can add up. This is a big problem for me. It’s easy to say it’s only 5 bucks so I’ll just try it out.  Most of the makeup I buy on a whim doesn’t get used much.

  • Research makeup before you buy. Don’t just run out and buy anything. There are tons of blogs, youtube videos, and even friends and family recommendations to try. If you need to buy something to replace an item look into the products first and buy smart.

  • Try to double up on products when possible. I love when I can find a blush that can also be used as a lip color and/or eye shadow. There are some great products that can pull double duty, minimizing your makeup stash even more.

I love this e.l.f. lip & cheek palette I grabbed at Walmart. It’s perfect for days I don’t want to spend much time on makeup. I use it on my eyes, cheeks, and lips. This Watercolour Blusher is another product that’s fantastic and can be used in multiple ways.

Consider a brand like Maskcara Beauty that lets you pick the colors you want and has handy, cute containers to keep makeup in. Check out Kristy’s non-seller review on Maskcara if you want to learn more about their products.

  • Don’t buy anything until it runs out. If there’s a new product people are raving about wait until your product runs out before you buy. Either that or be prepared to trash the one you have.

Final Thoughts on Downsizing Makeup

I really hope you’re able to easily downsize your makeup. When reading all the steps it sounds like a lot but once you jump into the decluttering it goes pretty fast. Honestly, I love how quickly I can put a full face of makeup on. It has definitely spend up my morning routine. Saving money is a big bonus as well.

Having an extra makeup bag for trips has really saved me time and it’s fun to use slightly different makeup from time to time.

Downsize your makeup collection to just the essentials will really create a better beauty routine. 

How big is your makeup collection? Could it use a decluttering session like this one?


You Might Also Like:

How I Cut My Wardrobe in Half and Why You Should Too!

Maskcara Beauty, An Honest Review From a Non-Seller

Our Makeup Organization | Keeping it Real


3 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this- I’ve read a lot of decluttering blog posts but yours is my fave so far! It doesn’t repeat the same guidelines over and over and I could actually relate to these! Thank you!!

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