Terrific Tips for Organizing Cosmetics and Toiletries

This is a blog post from my friend, Eva Wallace, who blogs at ClutterControlFreak.com. I think you’ll find this guest post to be extremely useful in keeping your make up drawer fresh and organized.

Most of us use cosmetics or toiletries of one kind or another, but far fewer of us put a lot of thought into organizing them. Keeping these items organized can shave minutes off of your morning routine.

The first step in organizing your cosmetics and toiletries is to go through and get rid of anything that’s past its prime. Below are some helpful guidelines for weeding out the old stuff.

Cosmetic shelf life guidelines:

Unopened, sealed products usually have a shelf life of 3-5 years or more. As long as they stay sealed, they will last for years. The shelf life countdown begins when you open it. Consider using a makeup spatula or baby spoon to dispense non-pump products to reduce bacterial contamination and extend the shelf life.

  • Oil-Free Foundation: 1 year
  • Cream or Compact Foundation: 18 months
  • Concealer: 12-18 months
  • Face Powder: 2 years
  • Blush and Bronzer Powder: 2 years
  • Cream Blush: 12-18 months
  • Powder Eye shadow: 3 years
  • Cream Eye shadow: 12-18 months
  • Eyeliner: 3 years, sharpened regularly
  • Liquid eyeliner: 3-6 months
  • Mascara: 3 months
  • Lipstick: 1-2 years (longer if stored in the refrigerator)
  • Lip liner: 3 years, sharpened regularly
  • Lip gloss: 18-24 months
  • Nail Color: 1-2 years
  • Cream & gel cleansers: 1 year
  • Brushes: Wash every 2-3 months in a mild detergent
  • Sponges: Wash weekly and discard monthly
  • Natural cosmetics: These don’t contain preservatives and should be discarded sooner. Check with the manufacturer.
  • Perfume: 2 years. Best if stored in a cool, dark place.
  • Hairstyling products: 3-5 years.
  • Bar soap: 3 years.
  • Shaving cream: 2 years.
  • Deodorant: 2 years.
  • Anti-aging and acne treatments: 3 months to 1 year.
  • Body lotion: 2-3 years, particularly if it’s in a pump container.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel: 3 years.
  • Bath oil: 1 year.
  • Sunscreen: Check the package for an expiration date.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Regardless of how long you’ve had it, if it smells different than when you bought it, trash it. If it’s separated or changed color, trash it.If you can’t remember when you purchased it, trash it. The old adage for food applies to cosmetics as well; When in doubt, throw it out.

Handy tip: Keep a Sharpie with your makeup bag. Write your own expiration date on them so you will always know when it is time to toss.

Next, you need to decide where you want to store your cosmetics.

Ask yourself these questions: What kind of storage space do I have available; drawers, cabinets, counter space? Do I want my products out where I can see them or tucked away out of sight? Answering a few simple questions before you begin will help you purchase exactly the organizers you need, and will save you time and money in the end.

Here are a few suggestions for organizers:

·Store lipsticks vertically. http://www.stacksandstacks.com/lipstick-tray-organizes-24-tubes-of-lipstick-or-mascara This way you can easily see the name or color dot on the end and can avoid digging through a pile to find the color you want.

·A nice countertop organizer http://www.stacksandstacks.com/large-makeup-organizer-movable-compartments can keep your makeup looking pretty and in easy reach at the same time.

·Vanity drawer organizers http://www.stacksandstacks.com/large-plastic-vanity-tray fit in most drawers and some are even stackable. They can hold everything from hair accessories and lotions to makeup and nail polish.

·Small drawers http://www.stacksandstacks.com/3-drawer-mini-storage-cube are perfect for the countertop. They are compact and the clear ones allow you to see what’s in them easily.

·A nice travel case http://www.stacksandstacks.com/travel-cosmetic-case work well for home use, too.

Handy Tip: Sometimes we have what we need already. Try some of these repurposed items for your cosmetics:

·Pencil cups: Great for makeup brushes.

·Flatware trays: These make good organizers for drawers and have spaces long enough for mascara and long brushes.

·Portable tool box or tackle box: The ones with the divided trays that lift out make super cosmetic organizers. As long as it doesn’t smell like hubby’s last fishing trip.

·Craft storage containers: There are so many shapes, sizes and styles out there, you may have the perfect one already.

·Stacking drawers: There are a multitude of plastic stacking drawers available to fit anything from a large cabinet to a small corner of your countertop. I have one from Iris in my cabinet for cotton balls, cotton swabs, spare razors and toothbrushes, and feminine products.

What tips do you have for organizing cosmetics and toiletries in your bathroom?

Eva Wallace is the website manager for StacksandStacks.com http://www.stacksandstacks.com, the blog manager for ClutterControlFreak.com http://www.cluttercontrolfreak.com and has become the go-to girl for all things organized.

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About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl, and she is the main voice behind Embracing Beauty.


  1. Oh man, I have some makeup that could definitely be thrown out then according to this. I had no idea that eyeliner didn’t last that long. I bought some cheap white bins that were made for pens, paper, things for a desk and I use them to organize my makeup drawers.

  2. Oh yes, old eye make up could cause nasty eye problems. Nail polish, I’m not so worried about. Desk organizers, great idea to neatly sort make up- I’ll have to remember that!

  3. Fawn Rechkemmer says

    I have been procrastinating about cleaning out my bathroom doors for weeks now. This is a great guide! Thanks for the nudge!

  4. MD Kennedy says

    Once a year, I pretend I am moving and take everything – I mean EVERYTHING – out of the bathroom and put it on a large towel on the kitchen floor. Then I g othrough it and am brutal with the keep or toss decisions; anything unused but still good I put in a show box and donate to a local charity for homeless women. Then I thoroughly clean all my storage areas and carefully put everythign back. That way, nothing gets on top of me!

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