It's a sad fact that there's no Goodwill equivalent for giving away gently-used beauty products like you can do with gently-used clothing. If you (like me) have an obscene number of cosmetics, toiletries, and beauty products, the task of organizing your bathroom can seem incredibly daunting. Besides constantly wondering how the hell I got all of this stuff, my main question has recently been: How the hell do I get rid of all this stuff?
I move frequently and every time I pack up to head to a new apartment, I am amazed at the number of beauty products I own. It's not that I don't like these beauty items, but it's a tremendous stress to move and organize them all. Plus, as I've gotten older, I've moved more towards a cruelty-free, natural beauty routine.
It's counterproductive and not Earth-friendly to just trash products (even when recycling the containers), so in late 2014, I put my focus toward getting rid of as many cosmetic products as I was physically able. Although I know this will be a continuous battle, no polish, scrub, spray, or cleanser was (or still is) safe from my wrath.
For those fellow borderline hoarders out there, I have gathered the lessons I learned so far in successfully getting rid of my beauty supplies. Whether you just want to be able to organize your bureau or bathroom or you're looking to feel that sense of accomplishment of finishing a product you've had since high school (guilty as charged), here are my top 13 tips for using up your beauty supplies.
1. Only Put Out The Products You Want To Get Rid Of
Making sure I only saw the products I wanted to get rid of was honestly the key to my moderate success. When I hop in the shower, my brain is usually pretty foggy from sleep and I just default in picking up whichever shampoo I've been using. If I have new products mixed in, it wouldn't be until I was rinsing my hair out that I realized I hadn't grabbed the product that I was working on finishing up. By clearing out the shower, the bathroom cabinet, and my bureau of items that I wanted to keep (I just placed them in a container in my closet) and replacing them with items I was hoping to use up, the bottles with only an eighth of product left in them disappeared quickly. And a sense of accomplishment swept my body.
2. Keep Products On You At All Times
Cream on your nightstand? Body spray in the car? Lotion on your work desk? Hand sanitizer in your purse? Check, check, check, annnddd check. If you really want to get rid of your products, you have to use them and a key to using them is having them easily accessible. I always try to carry travel-sized hand lotions in my purse, and not only does it help me out when I want to moisturize my hands right then and there, but I oftentimes find myself being asked to share (particularly in the winter). Spread the lotion wealth!
3. Shower More
Listen: My threshold for filth is pretty high and I can go an unacceptable amount of days without bathing. When you're trying to get rid of beauty products, that's a huge detriment. With showering comes the use of all your shower products, plus face lotion, body lotion, and hair products. Now, I'm against showering just for a shower's sake (that's just a waste of water) but if you're an undershower like me it wouldn't hurt to pick up the pace on your shower hygiene. One great way to make yourself earn a shower is by exercising. Not only will your workout make you feel awesome, but you'll be getting rid of those products too. It's a win-win!
4. Check The Expiration Dates
Most people know about how quickly makeup expires (I may know, but I still don't play by the rules), but what about shampoos, lotions, and perfumes? Go check out the dates on any of your older products and decide if that medicated lotion or that conditioner needs to be tossed. If something is only a couple months old, doesn't contain anything harmful, seems to still be effective, I'll keep it around. But if the expiration date is years old . . . uh, well, I think it's time to let that baby go.
If an expiration date is approaching, make that one of the products you focus on using up. Sometimes even if there is no official date on a container, the product could still be bad. Perfumes are affected by light and heat and I've had some cheap ones take on a funky smell after turning. Sometimes little tester products you've had for years that you forgot about just don't smell/feel right. If that's the case, it's also OK to just get rid of them. If they came in a recyclable container, take the extra time to dump the product in the trash and recycle the bottle — even if it's a hassle.
5. Make An Attempt To Use Every Last Drop
Shower products are the easiest when it comes to using them up completely since you can still use watered-down shampoo, face wash, and conditioner. It's a different story when dealing with hair care products, lotions, and perfumes. During my reduction efforts, I have become very skilled in digging out the bottom of containers as best as I can. While this tip may not be super conducive to using up products at a high-speed pace, it is the least wasteful way to do things. And if you're feeling particularly frustrated with the end of a bottle of lotion, you can always purchase a Spatty.
6. Give Away Products You Just Don't Like Anymore
Sometimes a body spray may be just fine and dandy, but it really isn't for you. Trust me, you're never going to use it up if you don't like the way it smells, so it's time to take action. People have clothing exchange parties, so why not beauty product exchanges? Lay out those toiletries that are still presentable and have some friends bring over their stuff too so you can swap over drinks. You'll feel like you went shopping for free if you end up with something new you've never tried before. (Although, don't take on any new products if you're an extreme beauty product hoarder — more on that later.)
7. Don't Buy Any New Products — You Already Have Enough
As I just referenced, while you may host a beauty product exchange party, if you're legitimately trying to get rid of a significant amount of beauty supplies, do not buy or accept any new products. It's truly fascinating how often people will encourage you to try new beauty supplies. When you get your hair cut, the salon will push a new spray wax or color-safe shampoo on you. When you go to your mom's house, she'll try to give you a conditioner she isn't using anymore. Until you've gotten your current stuff to a manageable level, don't let those capitalists and loved ones get the best of you.
8. Just Say "No" To In-Home Beauty Shows
In the same vein as my previous point, do not let consumerism enter your home in the form of a Mary Kay consultant or Avon representative (or any other in-home beauty supplier). Unless you have magnificent self-control, you'll want to purchase something — even if it's just out of guilt. It will not be easy if you have a friend who just recently entered this workforce, but you are not available to host an in-home product show until you get rid of your own beauty gear. And avoid any beauty product emails or magazines you are subscribed to like the plague.
9. Politely Ask That No One Give You Beauty Supplies
While you may have the strength to stop purchasing products or accepting quasi-used freebies, getting items as a gift is a whole other deal. For example, every birthday my grandmother gives all of her granddaughters a Bath & Bodyworks 8 oz. body lotion. As much as I completely appreciate these gifts from my grandmother (and love her completely), I currently have six bottles of Bath & Bodyworks 8 oz. body lotions in varying degrees of usedupness.
When I started to embark on this beauty product journey, I asked my mom-mom over drinks if she'd be OK bypassing the lotions for the time being until I can catch up with whatever I have. I didn't want to appear ungrateful and she was very understanding. Of course, sometimes you get cosmetic gifts without a warning, but as your birthday or holidays approach, you can delicately ask family members and friends to avoid getting you anything dealing with body care.
10. Change Up Your Hair Color
I have a graveyard of products that are dedicated to one color of hair since I can't use my John Frieda Brilliant Brunette or Radiant Red products when I'm a blonde! I save this stuff, since I go through the color spectrum about once a year. Lately, I had been staying my true light brown color for quite some time and my Aveda Color Conserve shampoo and Blue Malva conditioner were just wasting away. Besides wanting to have my hair lighter for the spring and summer, I decided to get some blonde highlights so I could use up these products. If you have a product for a specific hair color you don't have anymore, either it's time for a dye job or to find a buddy who is sporting that look.
11. Style Your Hair More
It's OK to have hair products that aren't for everyday use, but how often do you let your hair go completely unstyled? If you only have one hairspray, fine. But if you have four different hairsprays and five different mousses, it's time to step up the hair game. I'm extremely low maintenance, but by taking an extra two minutes to add one of the plethora of volumizing products I own to my wet hair before blowdrying it, I not only used up some old hair styling products, but my hair looked better too.
12. Pamper Yourself More
A lot of my products that don't get used fall on that "pamper" side of things. Face masks, exfoliants, bubble bath, hand and foot treatments — these are things that I'm not using everyday, or really every few months. However, you probably bought all this stuff because made your skin feel smooth, you like treating yourself sometimes, or you just feel plain pretty after using them. Well, smoke 'em if you got 'em! Luxury products are not benefitting you by sitting on a shelf.
Once I put my body scrub in my shower, I was shocked at how quickly I used it up. There's no need to have a full-on spa session every other day, but some items don't actually take that much time to use — face masks, for instance. About 10 to 15 minutes before I was planning on taking a shower, I'd put a face mask on. I could put the coffee on and finish making my lunch for the day and then hop into the shower to wash it off.
13. Embrace Your Accomplishments
After months and months of focusing on reducing my beauty products, I can say my efforts helped me to finish:
- Body scrub from 2011;
- Body spray and perfume from 2006;
- Face exfoliant from 2010;
- Body lotion from completely unknown origins;
- Hair mousse from 2008; and
- Face lotion from circa 2003 (!!!!).
While those were the accomplishments that caused more celebration, I also used up duplicates of some products I owned, regular shampoo, and travel-sized toiletries. No matter if your goal is to get rid of three lotions or a boatload of cosmetics, you're allowed to pat yourself on the back whenever you've unloaded yourself of one more thing. Give yourself a cheer as you pop that container into the recycle. It may feel like a drop in the bucket, but you still have one less thing than you did yesterday. And that is seriously worth celebrating.
Now excuse me as I browse Sephora's website and admire all the pretty things I won't allow myself to buy right now.