Confession: Sometimes, instead of self-improving, I just watch Hoarders to feel better about myself. I mean, sure, I could be more accomplished and more organized, but at least I don’t collect living, breathing cats like they’re Swarovski crystal figurines. In fact, ever since I packed up my My Little Pony collection decades ago, I don’t collect anything that would be considered an obsessive, endless and expensive habit… unless you count makeup and beauty products.
Just last week I had friends over to paint eggs for Easter (no joke – crafts rule, and it’s technically not collecting if you make the objet d’art yourself). After realizing that our painting supplies limited our creative potential, I pulled out a box of nail polish from under my bed and suggested we paint with those instead. The results, as you can see below, were beautiful – MoMA-worthy even. But it definitely disturbed my friends that I had so many nail polishes just lying around waiting for the day I’d become a faux Fabergé con-artist.
Enter my (late) New Year’s resolution: spring clean the beauty cabinet. As it turns out, using beauty products as crafts supplies is a great way to downsize your product pile, but it’s not exactly practical. (FYI: Painting with nail polish gives you a massive headache.) Truth: I don’t even have just a beauty cabinet. I have two beauty cupboards and whatever you’d call the wasteland underneath my bed. In fairness, most of them are review products for articles like these, usually geared towards convincing you to buy more products. I give away what I can and use as much as I want, but the rest accumulate, waiting for the day I invent a craft that involves human leg hair removal and lots and lots of green, courtesy of emerald, the Pantone colour of the year in 2013.
Downsizing is fun when it involves throwing out actual garbage, like “albums” from ex-boyfriends’ “bands.” If I wanted a homemade CD of painful, cacophonous melodrama, I’d record my next phone conversation with the bank, right? While throwing out stuff you’ll never use again is easy, parting with makeup and beauty products is more challenging because there’s always some imaginary vacation you can dream up where sporting press-on toenails seems like it might be fun… necessary even. Here’s the most important thing to remember though: makeup expires. Secondly: Hoarders is looking for new guest stars. Don’t let your friends nominate you. Here are some simple spring cleaning tips for your beauty cabinet to keep in mind…
Expiration Dates Are Insanely Important
Sure, the worst side effect of old nail polish is a clumpy manicure, but putting an old mascara on your eyelashes could lead to infections. Do you really want to explain to everyone that you don’t have pink eye or chlamydia of the eye? Check products that are either organic or contain SPF for sunscreen for their expiration dates directly on the bottle. For everything else, here are some approximate beauty product expiration dates (and please throw all the expired ones out immediately):
3 months: Mascara, liquid eye liner, anti-aging cream, acne treatments.
1 year: Nail polish, bath oil.
2 years: Perfume, foundation, lipstick, lip gloss, deodorant, bars of soap, shaving cream, body lotion.
3 to 5 years: Pencil eye liners, pencil lip liners, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, mousse, hairspray, gel.
1987: Crimpers, bottles of Exclamation!, Sun-In.
Clean Your Brushes (Or Throw Them Out, Too)
Think of it this way: If your brushes are dirty, you’re just making your makeup filthier and upping your chances of an acne breakout or blocked pores. You wouldn’t wash your face before bed only to pat it dry with the same dirty towel for a year, would you? So treat your brushes the same way. If you add only one product to your beauty cabinet this spring, let it be a makeup brush cleaner. You can score an awesome one at Shoppers Drug Mart, like Quo Brush Cleaner ($11). Sephora has both Sephora Purifying Brush Shampoo ($8 for 2 oz) for a thorough cleaning, and Sephora Daily Brush Cleaner ($10 for 2 oz) for daily maintenance (it’s just a leave-in spray, don’t stress). MAC also makes the awesome MAC Brush Cleaner ($15 USD), which comes in a pretty MAC bottle for those of us who like to display beauty products like bathroom art (what, like toilet lit is more high-brow?). Now for the actual using them part…
How to clean a makeup brush
Put a drop of brush cleaner in the palm of your hand. Swirl the bristles around gently and in a circular motion to keep them intact while the brush gets lathered up. When it looks clean, rinse the brush thoroughly and squeeze out excess moisture with a clean towel. Leave the brush to dry resting over the edge of the sink with the bristles suspended. This lets them dry as fast and evenly as possible. Don’t make the mistake of drying them by leaving them out on a towel – that just makes them retain moisture.
Get Organized & Downsize What’s Left
Once you’ve thrown out the expired products, cleaned your brushes, and are down to what’s left, it’s time to organize and downsize your makeup. Throw out all of your old makeup bags that are dirty on the inside from product residue and start fresh. I like to make a pile in my living room and separate everything I have into shoeboxes and/or beauty bags designated as follows: Eyes, Lips, Skincare, Hair, Body, Nails. The most important box though is one called Give Away. I put unopened products in this pile that I know I’m never going to use before they expire. I give them to friends and women who could use a little pampering. You can call a local women’s shelter, for instance, to see what they’d be willing to take off your hands for their residents. They receive much less donations when it’s not the holiday season. It’s easier to part with products knowing you’re going to help another woman feel like her most beautiful, pampered self. See… spring cleaning your beauty products just made you an even more beautiful person inside. Didn’t see that coming, did you?