Ever since I got my first sparkly lip balm, I was obsessed with beauty. Like many girls, I was excited and slightly confused by all of the different tubes, bottles, pots, and sprays. There was just so much to choose from! This option overload lead to me buying anything that appealed to me when I was in the store (especially if it was on sale). It did not matter that I already had 3 like it, this one was somehow different.
As I got older and my collection grew, I started coming up with inventive ways to store it all. I evolved from displaying my few items on my dresser to having to buy acrylic boxes and trays to hide the excess. I never thought I had a problem until I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. There, she explains that even though we have so many possessions, there are few that we actually use constantly, and even less that truly make us happy.
I was floored by how accurate this was. I had hundreds of pieces of makeup, skincare, hair care, and body items, yet I still used the same few things on a day to day basis with the vast majority of my collection gathering dust or expiring. I followed Marie’s instructions for cleaning out my stash by finding every single beauty item I own and bringing it to one place then deciding if it makes me happy or not.
By the time I found everything, I was feeling overwhelmed. My neatly hidden boxes were overflowing with things I had not seen in years. I had an entire box of travel sized items yet when I traveled, I always bought new things to take with me. I was wasting space and money and I didn’t even realize it.
After sorting my general piles of “travel sized”, “makeup”, “things in storage” into useful categories “lip items”, “shampoos”, “body lotions”, I got to work throwing out everything that looked scary (separating formula, damaged beyond repair, does not work) and things that I just never liked and never will like. My discard pile was about 1/5 of my collection. It felt amazing.
I then had the idea to catalog my collection so that I could see everything I had in one easy to access place. I got out a notebook and spent the next few weeks writing down every single item I own. Once I saw it all on paper, it was easy to see which things I had never used and which I had so many duplicates and triplicates of, I would never get through them all. I rounded up all of the less favorite items and split them between ebay (brand new high value items likely to sell), friends (new or gently items), and a women’s shelter (mostly unused hair and body items and stolen hotel toiletries).
This finally left me room to breathe. I added color coding to my catalog (yellow highlighter for summer only items, orange highlighter for heavy winter only items), marked my mini/travel items with a T, marked my foils with an F, and wrote down the month and year I got the item (digging through my subscription box history helped with a lot of them).
Now, I make monthly Finish By lists so that I do not have a bunch of nearly done items clogging my storage area. I prioritize the foils and mini products on those lists since they are easier to finish (and go bad faster) and any seasonal items (anything in Christmas packaging is on my Finish by February 29th list).
Was all of the time and effort spent on this endeavor worth it? Absolutely.
Do I regret anything about this project? That I did not start sooner. If I had done this in high school, I would have saved thousands of dollars on products that I bought on a whim that ended up being sucky or useless to me.
What have I learned from this and how can you get started? You can see my continuation post called Why Minimalism 2: Lessons, Pro-Tips, and Motivation.